“My Manager sucks!” When people leave your advertising agency; they may not be telling you the real reason!
With over 4,500+ interviews under my belt, across a huge range of professionals from the advertising and media industry, a common complaint I hear is that “my manager sucks!” Usually though, as you guys are the professionals of communication, it is put a little more delicately. Nonetheless, the crux of their complaint is just that – management sucks.
I am not necessarily talking about Executive Management, however, they are not immune from scorn, but more at the mid-career level. The level where juniors and mid-level people suffer at the hands and whim of their managers daily. A lot of the complaints stem from the fact that advertising and media agencies do not invest enough in actual management training. Selection and promotion is usually based on time in the agency and seniority. It also tends to be assumed that if the person is a great specialist or individual contributor, then they must be great as a manager. We all know this is not true, but the sheer fact agencies promote that way, kind of indicates that must be in the subconscious of the powers-that-be.
If your agency doesn’t invest much in training and development of managers, then there is one way that can help reduce the “suck” factor. Interviewing for management skills! Yes, it’s that simple. Whether considering your AE for promotion to AM or actually hiring from outside. You may want to actually address the issue in a conversation. You can try to eliminate the hiring of a “sucky manager” or learn you need to train your staff before promoting, but digging deep in an interview. As I always say, you need to have an open discussion – not an “interview”. It can’t be an interrogation. You need to get the candidate expressing emotion, so you can get a glimpse at the real person. Here are some questions you can base your conversation around to dig deep about their management experience. Don’t copy word-for-word and tailor for your role, but I am sure you can see the value in these and uncovering the person’s management style and see if that fits with your expectations and culture.
- Tell me about a specific time when a co-worker was experiencing significant personal problems that were affecting their work. What did you do to assist the co-worker and help them with their situation? Were your efforts successful? How did you know they were or were not successful?
- Describe a time when one of your staff or your work team was working above work expectations. What was your response? How did the other party/parties respond?
- Describe a time when one of your staff or your work team was working below work expectations. What was your response? How did the other party/parties respond? What was the ultimate outcome?
- Tell me about a specific time when a subordinate had a personal need that conflicted with the needs of your organization. How did you address the conflicting needs? What was the result of the way you handled the situation?
- Tell me specifically what you have done to create an atmosphere of trust and empowerment within your sphere of influence. What tangible results have you seen from your efforts?
- Tell me about a specific time you sought specific feedback on your performance from subordinates. Specifically, how did you use the feedback? Cite specific changes resulting from the feedback?
Now get recruiting!