Recently I wrote a piece in the Huffington Post, The 2013 New York City Elections: How Not to Develop a Talent Pipeline, that provided perspective and tips for anyone in any organization around their own efforts to develop and attract talent.
In my role at WCG, I spend a tremendous amount of time thinking both about unlocking the full value of our current people, as well as attracting new talent, so that we can continue to constantly innovate, deliver impeccable work and create an end-to-end experience for our clients that makes us indispensable to them.
As I complete my own first few months at the firm, I’ve developed a personal view on what helps people succeed here:
Come here to help build something – At an employee town hall, I asked staff why they thought some of our colleagues decided to leave the firm. Someone answered, “When people join us, we give them a particular job to do and account to work on, but sometimes we don’t tell them that we also expect them to help build this place.” I think and ask about this every time I interview someone. We have a clear vision and strategy for our firm. But we are a young and fast growing organization still building different parts of our company, every day. Building new capabilities… new systems and structures…. new ways we work with clients… new ways we work with each other. Successfully building something new can be exhilarating and rewarding, But in the process, at times, it can be frustrating and intimidating. We definitely need fearless builders.
Be an Expert and an Evangelist –W2O has attracted some of the best talent, not in “the” business, but in many businesses, including digital marketers, analytics experts, communications & PR professionals, video producers and software developers, just to name a few. And more than anywhere else I have ever seen, each of these different skills and perspectives each have an equally influential seat-at-the-table at our firm. We are not an ad shop that has a few PR people. We are not a digital agency that bought and bolted on an analytics shop. This whole cloth of diverse expertise creates an amazing end-to-end experience for our clients. But this eclectic mix of people means that colleagues working side-by-side may not always have deep knowledge of how their colleagues do their work, or even how they think. So someone who joins us cannot just “do their job,” they also need to passionately and consistently explain their job to their colleagues and teammates. We need evangelists who can engage, educate and inspire the people they work with about the unique lens that the see the world through.
Always be respectful… don’t always be polite – We regularly give our clients powerful ideas that they can’t get anywhere else. We do this by drawing from the eclectic toolbox of talent, perspective and specific capabilities described above. Complex solutions based on a wide range of perspectives don’t usually come out of polite conversation of always like-minded people. We may have a earned media specialist, an analytics professional and a digital marketer all working together on a particular problem or opportunity. However, we do not use a polite, democratic process to come up with a final idea that incorporates every suggestion in the room. The idea is simply to come up with the best idea. Getting to that gold doesn’t require us to be mean to each other. But we also cant risk just “being nice.” We need people with thick skins and the power of their convocations, who can also display diplomacy and a willingness to be challenged by completely new ways of thinking and working.