On Your Mark: Have Fun Making a Point

May  15,  2012 / By Mark Riggs

On the account that I have oversight of we have experienced tremendous growth in 2012 thanks to a client partner that values our work product, ideas and perspective when it comes to advancing them toward their business and communication goals. We have also experienced growth because of the hard work of everyone involved on the account from the newest account coordinator to the managing partner that is responsible for our outputs and outcomes.

Because of that growth we have had to add people to the team via new hires and others moving over from other account teams within the agency. The work product continues to be strong, but we are learning that it can be a difficult thing integrating five to six new team members and shifting personnel toward their strengths in the throes of our busiest back-to-back quarters in the five-plus year history of the account.

So this past Monday during our weekly account team meeting, I finished the session by asking the team if there were any questions or concerns. No one responded with any questions related to the account work, specifically, or the brand we support. Not one. Pretty interesting I thought. Everyone is feeling pretty good about their client knowledge and industry landscape.

So I brushed off an old idea that we haven’t used in quite some time. That very day I set time for an account team meeting for Friday of the same week. I didn’t tell anyone what it was about, what the subject matter would be; I just asked that everyone make it a point to attend.

Those who have been on the account team for an extended period of time had a sneaking suspicion about what was coming, and they were right:


Scary? Nah!

As I mentioned in my previous post, we at Taylor live the mantra that “Good is the enemy of great.” So I thought, what a better way to point that out than with a little team fun in a no-pressure situation. So I developed a 20-question pop quiz. The questions ranged from the easiest: “Who are the current President and CEO of (client)?” To the more challenging: “What was (client’s) stock price at closing the day before?” By the way, we include the stock price in every morning’s clip report. There were trick questions, questions about information just shared in Monday’s meeting and there were some real softballs like: “Who on the Taylor account team has been on the (client) business the longest?”

There were only two grades: If you scored 18 – 21 (one question was worth two points), you did GREAT. If you scored 17 or fewer, you did GOOD. The point I was trying to make is that the difference between great and good client service is a small margin. There have been a lot of agencies that were doing good work for their client right before they were canned.

Cultural awareness and client landscape empower our effectiveness. Whether you need a piece of information to do a specific task better, or if you end up in a social situation with the Sr. VP of Marketing for the client and you are engaged in a conversation where your awareness of the brand and their culture becomes representative of your agency’s reputation. Chinks in the armor are hard to get out … you can fall down a ladder much faster than it took you to climb it … Are you making the most of your time to educate yourself and putting yourself in position to be an ambassador for your agency, and your client, or are you shopping on bluefly.com and becoming a liability?

Oh, by the way, we split up in teams of two to make it more fun and graded ourselves using the honor system. The winning duo got to leave early that day at 1 p.m. considering that all of their client work and deliverables were complete in a GREAT way. The second place team got to choose what team activity we will do outside of the office for the quarter.

I’m happy to report we had some very strong scores and no poor scores. But I think the point was made: Good is the enemy of great and it is your individual participation and improvement that will help lift the team, or slow it down … No dead weight on this team. I am so proud of them all.

Oh yeah, the team of Gretchen Hutter and Dan Gadd scored the time off and Team Ridzon/McShane get to decide what we will do for our team activity … now, that’s scary!!!

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