Friday, January 15, 2010

Positioning Your Agency for 2010 Success – Part 5

My fifth strategy for success in 2010 involves your people.

I used to hear this all the time at Burson Marsteller: “our most important products go down the elevator everyday”.

I’m a big believer in stars. People drive success.

As a leader you and your senior team must:

• Motivate and retain your current stars
• Hire new stars for every new position

In 2002, as we began to emerge from the last recession, I wrote an article for PRWeek in which I predicted that “job switching, the inevitable curse of good times in the agency business” was a gathering storm that was moving closer.

Be prepared – it is going to happen again. So, as we enter the New Year, commit to keeping your current stars motivated.

• Over-communicate – let them know what‘s happening (both positive and negative) so they feel a part of the firm they’ve committed to. Being secretive is a disaster recipe.

• Be transparent – share your financials and help them learn the business side of your firm. It will help better understand their clients’ business and it will give them a greater sense of their role in ensuring the financial health of your firm.

• Listen and learn – I once had a boss who said if I don’t ask people how they’re feeling, I won’t ever have to hear them complain. What a sad commentary on leadership. Your stars keep a pulse on the firm. Keep a pulse on them. Find out how they are feeling and what they need from you.

And, in terms of your 2010 planning, find the next star; invest in that person now – ahead of the business if you can. Harold Burson used to say, “find me the next star, and they’ll be fully billable in six weeks.” Everyone wants to work with a star; stars attract business. They will make your firm better.

Don’t settle for good. Find great.

Remember, motivation cannot be delegated. Attend meetings you used to pass up; open your door and your phone lines; practice walking-the-halls management; get instant feedback; always stress what’s in it for them and share your vision – for the nest quarter, the coming year, and the future.

Other ideas?