Giving your employees the authority to challenge your authority can be daunting, but when you hire smart, it pays off.
I like to think that I have good ideas. It was my idea to start a marketing and advertising consulting firm in Austin that would provide full service creative for entrepreneurs rather than standalone services like design or paid search.
I knew what I needed as a business owner in year one, and especially in year two when I had my bearings. Here we are in year eight, and looking back I succeeded because I didn’t have a plan B. However, I recognize that I am not infallible and, in fact, I appreciate it when my team puts in the effort to change my mind. In every interview, I tell candidates that I value people who change my mind. When they change my mind is when I give them their first substantial raise. And I definitely hire people smarter than me.
My agency has a "no-ego" rule. The second you have an ego, you aren't listening to your team, and you aren't serving the client by doing so. Here are three more reasons I hire people to change my mind.
My team knows the clients, and the clients know one of my rules. Rock Candy Media is unique among ad agencies in that we do our best not to separate powers very much. Every member of the team gets to know the client and participates in meetings, brainstorming sessions and discussions (myself included). However, clients have a strategist who serves as their anchor and interpreter. I tell my strategists to think of every client as my boss and that I have more bosses than most people. Not only that, I tell my entire team why our clients founded their businesses and what their passions are. By giving my team that reality check, they become that much more invested in clients’ success. I tell every prospect that they are the bosses, but if my team and I pitch a campaign that is directly tied to revenue and they say no, I will fight for it. Likewise, my team will fight for ideas that they think will help clients succeed, even if I'm skeptical.
My team saves me money. As a creative agency, we truly strive to be the anti-template, which means we never assume one company’s past success is a model we’d emulate for another client. Each client is different: They have different goals, different timelines, etc. We’re constantly trying out new ways of getting our clients' messages out there and heard. We like to use Rock Candy Media as a guinea pig for these exploratory missions. My team gets a budget and a mission, and I let them have at it, because they understand that our own brand is the main brand. If I have a good hunch, and my team does the market research and then A/B tests the ads and I’m wrong, I’m very thankful because they just freed up dollars and hours.
- My team is on trend. For a CEO, I think I’m pretty with it (I did just win a digital influencer of the year award), but I’m also busy running a company and raising a daughter and not spending my free time mastering all of the technology it requires to converse nowadays. My team, however, is intentionally younger, has fewer responsibilities and knows the latest cultural trends like they were born with an iPhone in hand. So while I may not be aware of how all the different platforms work in a tactical way, my team is always tracking them and making sure our clients are just as on trend. Strategy comes first, but the platform is where we may execute, and execution to me, as a business owner, is what makes an advertising agency valuable.
Don’t be afraid to give up control. If you're hiring the right people, you should be 100 percent comfortable with hearing their differing opinions. You hire smarter because that’s what your clients deserve.