Have you ever wondered what your agency employees want from their boss — AKA you?

I just spent two days with a room full of account executives, teaching them how to add more value to their agencies and their clients. As part of the conversation, we talked about improving employee relations and the difference between what they think their bosses want from them…and what you, agency owners, truly do want from them.

It’s an eye-opening experience for them to say the least.  But then I turn the tables and ask them what they want most from you — their boss. What I always find fascinating is that “more money” is rarely mentioned.

Here’s a partial list of what your best AEs want from you:

  • They want to learn from you, your past experiences and work
  • They want to keep learning and for you to give them access to workshops, webinars, etc.
  • They want to get smarter in terms of how business works, not just marketing
  • They want to know you’re running the business in a fiscally responsible way
  • They want to work someplace that is vibrant and has a fun/cool factor
  • They want the “this job isn’t M-F, 9-5” to work both ways

But the number one thing, time and time again that I hear they want most — they want you to notice their work, their effort and express your appreciation for them going above and beyond.  They work hard and part of the reason they do it is because they want your trust and respect.

We all know, as agency owners, that we get going so fast that sometimes we forget to say “thank you.” This is a great place to start when it comes to improving employee relations at your agency. It’s not that we aren’t grateful — we are just running at breakneck speed.  Because of that velocity — we also don’t notice as much as we should.  I know my employees are doing great work every day, but usually I don’t have any idea of the specifics. I’m either on the road or with clients — and because I have a seasoned staff, they don’t need me to hover over them.  But because I’m not hovering — I’m also not observing.

Interestingly, this month’s Inc. Magazine talked about a report on improving employee relations that measures what makes employees happy and unhappy.  They focused more on the perks and benefits (free beverages, free massages, etc.) but one meaningful takeaway is that employees also want to do something meaningful. Helping your clients grow their business, creating new jobs and serving their customers can be very rewarding.  But — getting a pat on the back from you would also go a long way.