4 Account Management Lessons for Agency Professionals

World's Best BossAccording to Inc. Magazine, three out of four employees say their boss is the worst and most stressful part of their job. A full 65% of them say they would take a new boss over a pay raise.

Let that sink in for a minute.

A poor manager suddenly looks less like a nuisance and more like a serious liability.

The Inc. report also points out that poorly managed employees are the least productive, happy and healthy.

Talk about sub-standard management being bad for you and your agency.

If you want to avoid contributing to the statistics above, keep reading.

I asked PR 20/20’s four senior-level consultants to sit down and discuss what they’ve learned in their years of managing client accounts and agency professionals. What they shared can help first-time managers and veteran professionals alike manage people better and more effectively.

Each lesson is listed below, along with one useful way to apply it starting today.

Lesson 1: Effective Managers Must Be Teachers

Good managers teach. Great managers teach first, and teach often. The temptation to do work yourself—especially if you must delegate to unseasoned talent—is strong. But it doesn’t achieve much long-term.

Instead, over-budget time for employee education. Give your team the time, information and freedom to run with assignments and fail if necessary. Make time to teach during the process and after it. Start small and solidify each concept you want to communicate before moving on.

The result? You’ll develop talent into independent, confident and capable professionals who drive your agency forward.

What You Can Start Doing Today

  • Pick one assignment or task to be a “teachable moment.” Provide a team member with full assignment details, then let them run with it. Start small if necessary, and make yourself available for questions and insight.

As one of our senior managers says of a past job: “I was miserable at the job because I didn’t know what I was doing. If only someone had taken the time to teach me.”

New and veteran managers alike: You’re on the other side of that quote now.

Lesson 2: Generate Buy-In, Not Compliance

Good management is rarely about wielding any “authority” conferred by title or status. Instead, use buy-in to produce superior client outcomes and better motivate your team.

What You Can Start Doing Today

  • Ask someone on your team for input. It might be about their preferred work and management style. Or, it might be an upcoming deadline or task. Make this a habit. Seeking input from employees on the actions that affect them creates a sense of ownership and personal responsibility.

Lesson 3: Effective Managers Manage Themselves

Effective managers treat themselves like the people they manage. They identify their own weaknesses and biases—and work to compensate for them. They check in with themselves often and ask what they might be doing differently.

What You Can Start Doing Today

Lesson 4: Make Management a Process

Truly effective management results from process. What if each person you managed was your client? Would you miss that weekly feedback meeting or hit send too early on that email with the week’s priorities?

Passion for effective management is a great first step. But management processes help you manage well, even on the days you’re not 100%.

What You Can Do Today

  • Get management items on the calendar today. Every management task, meeting, feedback session, etc. should be on a calendar like any other appointment. Schedule recurring management tasks for the same time and date every week or month. Once you back up solid management practices with process, you’ll start reaping rewards.

No matter what management role you fill, our four senior consultants had one more important lesson. As one said: “Your job is to lift people up when they do good, and take responsibility when something is wrong. The buck stops with you.”

That’s an encouraging thought. It means we can all start being better managers today.

What tips would you recommend to be a better manager? What is the number one management challenge your agency struggles with?

Image Credit: Kumar Appaiah

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