A non-so-funny thing goes on at an advertiser, people don’t always take the time to look within and understand how other people do their jobs so that they can to figure out how to best work together. “Am I doing my job the best way I can? Is she doing things that I can learn from to improve how I work? God-forbid I expose my bad habits to someone.”
Sure there is such a thing as hierarchy and a manager is suppose to manage people; and that person’s Director is suppose to manage a group of managers who subsequently oversees the operation. But that chain of command is usually too busy to stop and look at operational procedure. They expect their people to be good at what they do, to manage their time wisely and to improve themselves where improvement is needed.
Of course we have that one-on-one meeting where the manager opens up the coffers to see where they can ‘help’ but seldom does an employee ever expose the belly and asks for help in fear of showing real signs of weakness.
Peers also seem to fail to look over their shoulders to see how each other do their respective roles. Everyone wants to look competent. Comparing yourself to someone to see whether you are doing something well or efficiently seems to be a sign of weakness. More so, exposing your processes to your manager for scrutiny or comparison or for suggestive advice is like going to the urologist or gynecologist, it can result in the most humiliating examination. God forbid.
I have sat with people from my company and from other companies and asked sales people some routine questions. “Do you know about other products in the organization – outside those you are responsible for selling.” Of course they say yes. “So what do you do when you encounter a prospect who does not want what you have to sell? Do you switch-hit and try to sell them a product line from a different part of your business, creating a warm lead for someone else?” The response is usually something like: “Ugh, no. I don’t know their products well enough to do that.” Clearly people do not necessarily have the knowledge about the inner working of other parts of their company to represent it.
I have sat with Account Managers within my company and at clients and watched how 5 people within a department all have their own trafficking worksheets, all optimize campaigns differently and all have their own campaign performance reports that they work from. One person takes down all the banners that don’t perform well in the morning and replaces them with the new ones in the afternoon while someone else takes down poor performers and replaces them with new ones placement-by-placement all day long. Which approach is better? Which is more efficient? I don’t know but I also know the manager hasn’t been looped in on the different approaches to determine the answer either.
When peers within an organization are devising their own way of doing things, it is a clear indication that the company has a poor initial training process. Trial by fire is a common practice in our space. We’re all moving so fast that we throw new hires into the mix, give them a PC and some basic rules of engagement and then have them figure out the rest from there. Rather than having our managers sit-down and develop operating roles for their teams, people are given longer ropes to run with (and potentially hang themselves with) and what results is inconsistencies in practices.
It’s terribly difficult for a manager to begin to marginalize her operation when her people are not consistent with how they conduct their work, utilize their time and do their jobs. When you have two direct reports it is one thing. But when you have 5 or 10, its time to start thinking about time allocation and resource management? How much time does someone spend working with the ad server? How much time does someone spend reformatting reports each day? How much time does someone spend trafficking placements? How much time does someone spend evaluating proposals from publishers? When you start to measure the metrics around the operation of your peoples’ time you will start to be able to recognize where the costs of doing business reside.
When people are spending 75% of their time interacting with an ad server, and that is not billable time for an agency, something is wrong. Evaluate the ad server you are using and see whether it is best for your business. Do you want to pay someone $60,000 a year to do manual data entry or do you want to pay $100/hr to someone else to setup your campaigns and outsource your trafficking role? You can’t answer these questions if your people are not (1) conducting their work the same way, and (2) not measuring how long it takes to do their work.
This is not about reduction in workforce. It’s about having the right people doing the right work the same way. If you are an advertiser, think about what your senior people spend their time doing. In Hidden Media Costs Associated with Online Advertising (Ad-tech) – Some Real Good Data (http://arikaufman.com/2006/11/09/hiddenmediacostsassociatedwithonlineadvertising.aspx) I provide data on how much time senior executives spend finding data and reformatting reports using data they have used in the past. This illustrates the amount of time that people waste in a given month – almost 40%! The crazy thing is that with today’s technologies it is possible to have dashboards and data imports that do these things for you. TruEffect’s TruAdvertiser.xls™ feeds performance data into preformatted pivot tables and charts within Microsoft® Excel and update on the fly for example. Site-side analytics software like Omniture or WebTrends keep running tabs on your web site patterns in real-time.
Knowing how people do their job is paramount to knowing how to improve them. Fostering an environment within which people feel comfortable to collaborate and interact is half the battle. Cross-product training is empowering people to feel like they not only understand the rest of the company they work for but that they can represent it. This is not just for sales, but for other parts of the company as well. If Account Managers understand Business Development, they can warm a lead that they meet in a bar. If a trafficking manager understands analytics they can better understand how to set up the ad server to produce more data. Within roles, people should collaborate and present their approaches to each other to foster cross-training so that people get ideas on how to improve their own processes. We should not be working in silos. The one-on-one meeting should not be a manager asking the employee “what can I do for you?” it should be “here are things I can do for you.”
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