4 MINUTE READ | October 9, 2014
#AgencyLife & Happiness - Not Mutually Exclusive
Let’s do cool things with cool people.
That’s the mantra at PMG. Life is short, and we want to spend our waking hours with people we have fun working with. That not only means clients, but also people who stand alongside us inside the agency.
To accomplish that, we try to hire the right folks, and make sure we focus on our most valuable assets – people. (We don’t always have perfect results, but we do strive for perfect effort.) Just because it is a dynamic and creative environment doesn’t mean that people automatically love the agency world.
Don’t believe me? Read this article on Digiday then: http://digiday.com/agencies/agency-people-grumpy/
Frankly, why people at agencies are miserable isn’t entirely foreign to many in the industry. To summarize the article, there are myriad reasons why agency folks hate life: including: their companies’ disregard for work-life balance; management’s capitulation to anything as long as it lifts the bottom line; and being on a team in name only, not in practice (i.e., cultures that encourage everyone to look out for themselves).
It’s easy for agencies to forget about human capital being their most valuable assets. When a client leaves, or when budgets are slashed, people become headcount, and investing in people instead becomes overhead costs. How can agencies combat that, and make sure they stay focused on keeping people happy, knowing that if they do, high morale will lead to great work? Again, we’re not perfect, but here are some things PMG has put into place to make that happen.
Some PMG folks in their natural habitat: twinning and awkwardly hugging.
Provide learning opportunities
PMG has an extensive training program for all new team members. On top of that, some sessions are conducted by recent program graduates. The goal is to give younger team members immediate experience in audience-driven public speaking.
Every quarter, everyone at PMG has an opportunity to make a business case on why PMG should sponsor them to go to an industry conference. When we say everyone, we mean everyone – from people who are only two months removed from college, to administrative support folks, to veterans who have been “doing search since before SEM’s existence” (just kidding, we don’t have anyone here who claims that, but we’re sure you’ve all met someone who has).
We have multiple cross-agency v-teams that allow team members to explore interests beyond their day-to-day job. Think Google’s “20 Percent Time,” but more flexible.
Remember a team is made of individuals
When hiring, we look at talent and attitude, and not if someone likes doing the same things we do on weekends. That’s not to say we don’t have shared interests, but we don’t let that become the deciding factor in who we bring in. We go after, and celebrate, different backgrounds and personalities.
We focus on those with a team mentality, and create opportunities for everyone to contribute to the team. Every so often, we have “group scrambles” where the entire agency is invited to help a particular account team solve a challenge for their client. Furthermore, we reward that behavior – both in terms of those who ask for help, and those who answer the call.
Have a client-first mentality, but don’t be beholden to them
We are very selective when taking on new business. Billings isn’t the only, or even the top, consideration. Rather, we ensure that however we work with them, clients will give our teams opportunities to do interesting stuff (and by extension, opportunities to deepen their skills).
We approach our clients as partners, and love it when they do as well. However, if clients constantly treat our teams with disrespect, or otherwise make their lives miserable, then we will part ways. We value and respect our team members too much to have them endure that.
As you can see, our definition of creating a happy atmosphere doesn’t just include happy hours (we do that), bowling (this too), tennis tournaments (and this), fitness challenges (this as well), boat trips (check), movie days (monthly, baby) and team trips to the gun range (bingo, you guessed it – we do this too).
Agency world doesn’t have to be a grind, and at PMG, we’re proud to have created an environment that’s unlike most other places. We’re not perfect, but we always keep the right priority in mind, which is setting our people up for success, and having fun while doing so.
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Posted by: David Gong
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