Don’t limit your growth!
Here are 7 ways agency people can delimit their own growth.
Why aren’t agencies helping their people to grow and develop?
At DiGo, we’ve been learning a lot lately by interviewing account people by the dozens. While we’ve met some spectacular people, I’m sorry to say that most of these interviews have been just shocking. Too many people come in with limiting attitudes about themselves and their possibilities. Experienced account managers typically don’t even have an understanding the agency business. They don’t get what agencies are here to do. They don’t understand the role we play in our client’s lives and businesses. They view themselves as narrow specialists. They are people in boxes, decades too early.
1) Get out of your box. The first assumption of a growth agency is that your potential for growth is practically limitless. Who knows what you can be? Former account managers at DiGo are heads of social strategy, writers, leaders of social technology companies, designers, clients, creative directors and senior leaders of this agency. Stop habitually working from what you’ve already done – let’s talk about what you want to do. That’s much more interesting.
2) Question your limits. “I’m not creative.” “I’m not good with numbers.” “I’m not the writer.” “I can’t sell.” We see a set of roles that other people have defined and we feel we have to choose one. Who said you have to fit into boxes other people created? We look at a system of types and we think we need to identify with one of them. Let me tell you that there are more people inside of you than will ever get out. You have no idea how much potential for growth is in there. I will never tell you what you can’t be or do. Never. Don’t do it to yourself either.
3) Learn what you don’t know. Any agency job that isn’t the best educational experience of your life is a waste of your time. The world is changing in so many exciting and promising ways – wouldn’t you like to be able to say the same about yourself? If your agency doesn’t invite you to see the big picture, to be cross-trained, to look at your own desires and yearnings for growth, to develop your own vision for yourself, and to grow… then develop your own program and try to sell it in to them. They may not be hostile to growth – they may just be distracted. Give them a chance and you may transform the place.
4) Practice until you’re fluent. There are things we don’t know we don’t know. That’s what humility is for – keeping an open mind. There are things we know and can do fluently. Then, there are things we know how to do, but that don’t come easy. Knowing isn’t enough. Practice is everything. A great guitarist doesn’t necessarily know more about guitar playing. The enormous amount of practice leads to fluency. You can practice creativity. Presentation skills. Writing briefs. Giving comments. Leading innovation sessions. Just about anything. If you’re not good at something – if you’ve never been good at it – ask yourself whether you know what you need to know. Once you do, take every opportunity to practice.
5) Do a different job for a day or a week. At DiGo, from time to time, we switch roles. Account people become writers, art directors or media people. And vice versa. Brand journalists sell. Social media strategists do project management. It’s frightening and enlightening to do a different job for a day or a week. You use different muscles. You see it from the other person’s point of view. We find we become a tighter team and we become better. Sound like insanity? You would be shocked how well it all actually works.
6) Press the boundaries. People who need us and want our collaboration don’t always invite us in. Often the help they would appreciate is the last thing they think to ask for. Go brainstorm with a creative team. Hash things out with a planner or strategist. Organize “15 minutes of genius” with a client. Be the one who makes time for possibilities. Some people will ask you to go back to whatever it is you do, but in a healthy place, people will be charged up by your vision and commitment to possibility.
7) Help others grow. Too many agency conversations start and end with, “What do you want us to do?” There are a thousand variations. What’s the assignment? What’s the strategy? What’s the deliverable? What does the client want? Be the one who takes the conversation to the level that has the potential to change everything. Be the one that focuses on why the client wants the agency to do whatever it is. How does the client want to grow? How does the client’s company want to grow? What about your boss, your colleague, the people you supervise? Do you know what growth they yearn for, what possibilities excite them? You can never go too deep into that conversation.
Wherever you are, you can begin to build a culture that’s all about growth. If it has to be a University for One, so be it. Start where you are. And if you know someone who is all about growing and helping worthy others – people, brands, organizations – grow, then please refer them our way. We’re growing.