It’s account coordinator season again. Across the country agencies are about to onboard a new “class” of entry level employees – recent college graduates who, most likely, had one, two or three internships during their college years.
Optimism abounds – for these new faces and for your staff. On the one side: “The first job out of college!” “They really want me – I’ll be able to contribute!” On the other side: “Finally, someone I can delegate to!” “We had a lot of people to choose from – our ACs will be grateful to be here!”
The clash of expectations is set up from the beginning and unless we act now to establish positive, realistic expectations for the new staff and the existing staff, we are looking – again – at the August/September disappointment cycle that we will need to unravel and reset, probably with sub-optimal results.
Typically, agencies support their interns. As one woman told me, at each of her four internships at four different agencies in three different cities, “a lot of effort was made to help me understand the projects I had to do. In each one, someone was responsible for making sure I got out of the internship what I was supposed to for the credit I was getting at school.”
Contrast this to her experience when she got an entry level job, where it was “challenging to get what I needed to know to do my job well out of my manager, and how irritated people who’d been there a while would be when I asked questions.” Typically, agencies leave new hires to sink or swim. what I heard from that Northwestern Summa Cum Laude wasn’t an isolated situation: it was a predominant sentiment I heard in interviewing over 1,000 people ages 22 – 26 and over 50 agency leaders nationwide in research for The Boomerang Principle: Inspire Lifetime Loyalty From Your Employees.
Now is the time to make the adjustments needed to ensure that our new entry level people get off to a positive start – the positive start that will keep them motivated even when the realities of “real life” set in. If we can keep each Account Coordinator with us one year longer than average (about two years) we’ll be doing ourselves, our agencies, our teams, our clients, and our bottom lines a favor.
Start off on a good foot by equipping the people who will be managing these entry level staff with the tools they need to create positive and productive work teams.
Too often management/leadership training is reserved for people higher up the chain instead of for those that manage our entry-level staff. Big mistake! We need to help our 1-2 year colleagues manage and be a good team member for their coordinators before they take responsibility for them and their work (and then suffer for the repercussions of other people’s work).
If you can’t move fast enough now to offer, or don’t have the resources to create, a first-time manager academy, consider the following:
- First time manager workshops offered by third-parties in your region.
- A reading list with book club review for this group. Include books such as:
- Primal Leadership, Goleman
- Leadership and the Art of Conversation, Krisco
- Death by Meeting, Lencioni
- The Coaching Habit, Bungay Stanier
- Help these new managers know themselves better. The best leaders are the most self-aware leaders. Provide self-assessment tools such as:
- Strengthfinders, Rath
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
- The Enneagram Personality Type Assessment
- DISC Profile
Coach your new managers about the strengths and weaknesses of all types and reinforce that no bad types exist!
The earlier we provide leadership training, the faster we will be creating positive, productive workplaces equipped to consistently hold our standards high while driving younger employee churn down and profit up.
Lee McEnany Caraher, is CEO and President of Double Forte, and author Millennials & Management: Making it Work at Work (2014), and The Boomerang Principle: Inspire Lifetime Loyalty From Your Employees (April, 2017)
PR Council members a can receive a 40% discount on Lee’s new book, The Boomerang Principle. Those interested in the offer can email David Blackburn at [email protected] to purchase a copy.