What if I told you that strategic thinking is a mindset that any workplace can nurture and regularly deploy? Your agency is likely brimming with big-picture thinkers, so don’t try to do it by yourself. In this piece I recently contributed to Business 2 Community I discuss ways to teach and empower your team to answer strategy questions as they arise.
By welcoming fear and feedback, you can become a more vulnerable and gracious leader. Here are a few great ways to embrace vulnerability. In this piece I recently contributed to Real-Leaders.com I discuss how leaders can earn their stripes by embracing vulnerability.
When it comes to succession planning, many agency owners think about the eventual closing or sale of their agency. Truth be told, most of you are not really prepping for that day as early or in as detailed a way as you should. You greatly reduce your options when you don’t have a long-range succession plan in place. But sometimes, there is no long-range scenario. Most agency owners have no plan in place for a sudden change — the proverbial hit by the bus scenario. I know it’s not pleasant to think about, but you owe it to your family, your employees, and your clients to have a plan in place. If something unexpected happens to you — your family and team are not going to be in a mental or emotional place to make good decisions. They will be rightfully dealing with the loss. Do not add to their burden by leaving things up in the air. I recorded a video on this topic (I am adding new videos every week on LinkedIn — are we connected there?) that I want to make sure you watch. I know the topic is morbid — but you owe it to those you love, work with, and work for to have a contingency plan in place. I know you get a lot of information coming to you — but please don’t ignore this topic just because you don’t want to think about it. This is far too big a burden to pass onto those you love. Working out the details is going to take you the better part of a year, so set a goal of having this handled by the end of 2021. Do it for [...]
No one is excited to have a difficult conversation with a key team member. But you choosing to avoid that conversation (I initially wrote your inability to have that conversation but we know it’s not really inability) because it’s uncomfortable can cost your agency so much. In today’s super snug employee recruitment/retention environment — you think you’re tiptoeing around that challenging situation or employee, but the truth is, you’re afraid. Giving in to that fear can cost you some of your best employees, your reputation as an honest (remember those values you preach or have hanging in the agency’s conference room) leader and clients. Leaders who fail to address bad behavior tacitly endorse such behavior to other workers. If one person gets away with late starts or low-key insubordination, your team will emulate the behavior (or think less of the manager who allows it). This is a skill that every agency owner needs to embrace and improve. Entrepreneur Magazine asked me to write about the risks of not being good at the difficult conversations and I did a solocast on the topic with what I hope are some helpful tips. If this is an area of growth for you, please check out the article and the solocast. But beyond that — commit to making this a focus for you in the coming months. This should also be a high priority skill for anyone in your shop who manages other employees. You all have to get better at this. The risks are too great to ignore the consequences of letting this slide. This was originally published in the weekly AMI newsletter. To subscribe, click here.
I’m guessing when you read that headline, you snorted, rolled your eyes, or made a “duh” expression. I know you converse with your employees but do you actually have meaningful conversations? Here’s what I observe in most agencies. You greet employees as you see them during the day You have “as you run by them in the hallway” conversations which are 50% social and 50% functional in which you drop little bombs (updates, facts, commentary) on work in progress You have info passing email conversations But most of you are not setting aside time to actually dig in. Here’s what can and should happen on a regular basis: You’re teaching as you explain decisions and reactions to client requests, changes, strategies You’re learning where they’d like to invest their time in terms of learning something new and adding more value You’re giving them an opportunity to give you a heads up on potential client and team issues You’re coaching them through new challenges they’re facing You’re celebrating their growth, their wins, and their best attempts All of this can be accomplished in a 20 minute one-on-one meeting with your direct reports. Every employee should have one at least twice a month, if not more often. This is a meeting that the employee owns. There are huge benefits to you, the owner or leader of the agency as well. Fewer interruptions throughout the week (they’ll learn to save it for their one-on-one) Employees that are fired up to keep learning and understand that it’s part of their job An early warning when trouble is brewing Better employee retention (they want more of your time and attention) A much more accurate sense of what’s going on in [...]
It’s a tricky balance: considering your budget and exploring the benefits of “luxuries” like research. But what if you could benefit from the insights research provides without breaking the bank? In this piece I recently contributed to Business2Community.com, I discuss how to do your own research for your agency because if you want to be effective, research needs to be an ongoing part of your marketing efforts.
You can’t afford to make a snap decision, especially if your revenue took a hit during the pandemic, because the cost of wrong hires is high. In this piece I recently contributed to FastCompany.com I discuss the steps to take if you want to hire for talent—and longevity.
"By prioritizing your people and striking a balance between strong core operations and flexibility, you can set your team up for success, no matter what the new year brings." In this piece I recently contributed to Forbes.com I discuss how to create your business plan for 2021 amid uncertainty.
Agency people are lifelong learners. If you aren’t — odds are you will be “counseled” out of your role if you don’t own the joint and pushed out of the day to day, if you do. We can’t afford to stop learning in our world. It’s simply changing too quickly and to keep up, we have to make learning a priority. What I love the most about AMI is that in everything we do — you are learning from people who are actively involved in agency life. I’ve owned my shop for 25+ years and am still active there. Craig (who runs our Key Executive networks and the Virtual networks) also still has an agency and has been an owner for 27+ years. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The best aspect of AMI is that owners who attend our workshops, network meetings, webinars, etc. — are all both students and teachers. I love how owners are so quick to offer to share resources, forms, best practices, and connections with other owners. That spirit is the best of AMI and of our profession. If you don’t have a posse of other agency owners/leaders — I implore you to find one. If AMI works for you, great. If not, seek it somewhere else. But do not fight the fight alone. Looking for some places to learn from other agency owners/leaders? Build and Nurture your Agency's Sales Funnel— January 21/22 in Orlando on WDW property Running Your Agency for growth, profit & a little sanity — April 6/7 in Chicago Advanced AE Bootcamp –August 17/18 in Chicago AE Bootcamp — September 14/15 in Chicago Money Matters for Agency Owners — Dates TBD We’d love to help [...]
We have all bought clothes that weren’t quite the right fit. Whether too tight, too big or whatever the issue — they are uncomfortable and when you are wearing that misfit of clothes — you are very aware that something is not quite right. In fact, pretty soon, the pinching, sagging or snugness is all you can focus on. You either bought it without doing your homework (trying it on or moving around in it) or it was so cool/cute/dashing that you ignored the intial discomfort, thinking you could either fix it or get used to it. But we don’t. I think that exact same thing happens with clients. We either ignore the warning signs, think we can fix them or, if we’re honest with ourselves, we want their money and don’t care if the fix is off. You know it when you do it. There’s that nagging voice in the back of your head that you shhh every time it raises a concern. We’ve all done it. If you haven’t done it yet — you haven’t owned your agency very long. I get why we do it. But I also get the price we pay. I have never seen an agency turn that situation into a profitable one. In the short run — sure, you can make some money. But in the long run, you are going to lose money and even worse, potentially lose critically valuable team members. That’s why I wrote the article How to Find New Clients That Fit Your Agency Perfectly for Forbes. I not only believe we don’t have to settle for wrong fit clients but I think we’re fools if we do. Take the time to find the [...]