Finding good creative people is hard enough for an advertising agency, but keeping them there is even harder. In the end, it should not be a matter of money. Talented people should want to stay on because they feel cared for and can look forward to a great career instead of just a job. Here is expert advice based on Bird’s in-house notes.
The Manager’s Job is to Make Dreams Come True
An ad agency manager’s job, says Bird, is to make his people’s dreams come true. This begins with discovering what their dreams are. Right from the start, a manager should find out what his people want to achieve. He should talk to them.
If they seem to have potential, a manager should make it his business to help them achieve their goals. That will make them even better because they’ll want to help him in return.
If they are good, one day they can make a big contribution in other countries, or to other disciplines. The future of a multinational ad agency depends upon people who understand all the disciplines, and have worked in more than one country.
When Creative People are Not up to the Mark
According to Bird, this is easy. “In my experience,” he says, “nine times out of ten you will know within two or three seconds whether anybody is any good. They may not be good because they don’t fit into our culture. You will find this very frustrating. You know they could be good – but they’re not doing well with you.
Once again, it’s your job to try and help them succeed. Send them elsewhere within the network; or advise them of some other agency where they might do well. Being helpful to people, even if it doesn’t pay off in the short term, brings you a good name. And that is immensely valuable. What’s more, often these people will return to you.”
Bird suggests that if they’re really hopeless, the manager should get rid of them. He should not agonise over it, but he must do it kindly. He should advise them about their best possible course elsewhere. They may do well in some other business.
How to Nurture and Care for Creative People
Creative people are not motivated mainly by money. They want to learn, they want to be praised, they want to contribute and get involved. In fact, if they moan a lot about money, it’s often because they are not being given these other opportunities.
Bird advises – “Give them books to read. Send them to seminars. Expose them to work. Get them discussing problems and opportunities with each other. In some of our agencies the practice has arisen of having regular weekly or fortnightly get togethers where people sit around and talk about the work that’s going on. Creative people generally enjoy this.”
Sometimes managers may find that creative people appear to be anti-management or anti-executives. This is not because they are being difficult. If the manager talks to them and listens to them, he will find out what’s wrong with the agency.
Bird concludes: “Creatives particularly – but all people – react well to being asked, especially when they’re quite junior – to help. If you’ve got a project you’re working on, it’s often a smart idea to involve a bright young creative person. Ask them to write you a report or give you their advice. This is the best way of showing them something which is terribly important: that you respect them and their contribution.
One last piece of advice: if they’re really good, promote them fast. If you don’t, someone else will grab them. Good creative ability is rare. Moreover, creative people can often have great ideas without being wise and experienced.”
Creative People Need Special Care
As Bird points out, good creative people are a rarity, and managers should make it their business to help them achieve their goals and make them feel involved and respected. If they are not good, they should be directed to the right agency for them or even advised to work in some other line of business if they are up to it. Helping them out will build a good reputation for their managers.
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