Should you micromanage your agency?

Should you micromanage your agency?

Today, it is common practice for managers to get involved in nitty-gritty details of a campaign, project, event or activation.

The justification usually is that you don’t trust the agency to take the job as seriously as you do.

However, in my opinion this is a criminal waste of time and energy. If you cannot trust the agency you’re working with, you shouldn’t be working with them in the first place.

The agency you hire, in all probability, comprises professionals who have many years of experience in their business. To discount their knowledge by getting involved and course correcting step-by-step, at every stage of the project, is professional ‘Hara-Kiri’.

You should have better things to do with your time instead of wasting it doing their work, for them.

The problem usually lies in a lack of clarity at the start when a job is awarded. Many times, in a hurry to meet a deadline, the requirement handed to an agency would qualify more as a ‘G-String’, than a brief.

This is where the problems start, as the agencies begin by shooting in the dark, trying to second guess the requirement, and finally reaching the path to be taken through trial and error.

In the process, they get on to the back foot, and lose the conviction to stand by their recommendations or suggestions and most importantly absolve themselves of the responsibility towards its success. After a point, most agencies stop adding value to a project with the ‘It’s the client’s money. They can waste it as they please’ attitude.

This works against your success.

Getting an agency’s team to work for you, is the best way to drive the success of your project. And treating the agency as an equal team partner, with as much stake in the success of the project, is the best way to keep their enthusiasm alive.

Here are a few tips on how you could get the best out of the agency:

  1. Take time to brief them correctly: Be clear in your head as to what you want the agency to achieve. If possible write it down in detail, because as you begin to write, you start to think about the project before you hand it over to them. This helps clear out many a gap in the expectations.
  2. State your benchmark for expectations: Be clear while awarding the work, as to what they need to deliver, the timelines for execution, and the minimum levels of service that you expect.
  3. Clearly state ‘No-No’s so that less time is wasted on intellectual arguments. Every company has some concepts that they would accept and some that would never take off. Brief the agency about the ‘no fly zones’ before they start conceptualizing, so that you can rest assured that you wouldn’t need to go back to the drawing board too often.
  4. Ask for details: Once you have broad approvals on macro level approach presentations, ask the agency to explain to you in detail, how they will handle the requirement. Be convinced about what they are proposing.
  5. Give them space: After asking for a change, don’t impose your presence on them while they’re reworking their plan. Give them the space they require to think, develop an alternative, brainstorm, discuss and revert.
  6. Praise them: Despite the fact that you’re paying them for their service, most agency employees find praise to be a bigger motivator than money. Praise them on achieving milestones. They will be motivated to stretch that little extra, the next time you give them feedback.
  7. Build loyalists: Take the time to get to know the team. Discuss things beyond the project or work. In a world that is increasingly transactional, where lives are lived in front of screens with little or no human contact, even a simple smile can help you build a base of followers. These people will be your loyalists, who will enthusiastically fight your battle, in a situation that demands it.

Once you’ve set the expectations, are convinced about the plan and the detailing shared, step back and let them do their work.

Trust them to deliver…. And enjoy the show!

photo credit: Scott Shingler Photography via photopin cc

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