New Talent Tips: How Top Agencies Get, Keep and Develop the Best

Today's Best Advice From Hot Agencies That Couldn't Be More Different

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We've been talking all week about talent in the agency, marketing and media worlds -- how to beat your rivals, essentially, at building the best team. But as the digital and branding space grows and morphs, so do jobseekers' options. So we're wrapping up today with specific advice from some very different agencies about their latest tactics.

Susie Nam, general manager and head of account management, Droga5
Great talent will work for the work. We are first and foremost, defined by our work. We talk about, we obsess over it, we lose sleep over it, we want more of it. .... Whether an account manager or creative director, we find success in people who will run through walls for good creative and that the only path to good work is through strategy. Our best people are "thinking man" versions of their respective disciplines: thinking man suit, thinking man designer.

Invest in women. We believe this is an important issue for our industry as a whole, but the righting of the ship starts from within. The Droga5 Women's Initiative is focused on recruiting, retaining and coaching women into a position of senior leadership. Efforts are wide ranging, from seminars with high profile women in the industry, mentorship across departmental lines, more exposure to executive management and quarterly auditing of numbers of women, promotions by gender and numbers of women in senior leadership positions.

Layne Harris, VP-innovation technology, 360i
Out-startup startups. We work with daring, high-exposure brands that love taking risks and are actually willing to fund and build stuff. You can't typically compete with that as a startup that is focused on a single breakthrough. On the tech front, we have a culture that thrives on the new, with several internal volunteer committees dedicated to discovering new partners to work with and tracking the most exciting tech trends. We have a lab filled with the latest tech gadgets like Oculus Rift and Makerbot, which we routinely play with, hack, and even tear apart -- all with the hopes of discovering something new for clients.

Karina Wilsher, partner and CEO, Anomaly, New York
Go big when giving recognition. There's no time for office politics or bullshit. We always celebrate the people who get it and work in this way. We recognize the "Employee of the Month" with a car waiting outside the all-agency meeting to whisk the surprised winner away to a night out. Employees of the Year win a trip for two anywhere in the world. And we also have an Anomaly Sabbatical where we give $1,000 and a month paid time-off to go and do something you've always wanted to do.

Nurture entrepreneurialism. We have an internal IP program, "Anomaly Fun'ded', to develop and reward Anomaly entrepreneurs. It's a program that funds the entrepreneurial ideas of our own people, and Anomaly has invested in furniture design, a photography book and exhibition, and pet-centric music therapy so far.

Remember, diversity is attractive. In the New York office alone, we have 24 different nationalities represented, and the office is 43% female, 57% male, with several female department heads and creative directors. Not only does this make for a much more dynamic way of working, it's also reflective of the type of company people want to work for these days.

‎Patti Clifford, chief talent officer, Havas Creative
Don't lump recruiting into "general HR duties." When I first got here everyone was sort of an HR generalist and if you asked them what they did all day, they would say that the recruiting started around 4 pm .... We have, specifically in North America, divided our HR into two groups -- talent acquisition and talent management. The thinking behind that is that talent acquisition was done by people with a lot on their plate -- it wasn't getting the dedication that it really needed. It requires focus and tenacity day in and day out to do it.

Feed young talent's wanderlust. Havas Lofts is our mobility program. We're a big global network and we kind of broke the paradigm that you have to go live in one place for a year .... Research shows that millennials are less interested in length of time associated with it so much as frequency.

Retention programs aren't what really matters. Leadership is. So much of retaining talent resides in a leader's hands. You can have all sorts of programs and whatnot at the company or agency level, but if the leader isn't doing the basic things needed ... if they're not getting a daily connection with their leader on a team that seems to be led in a way that's exciting and interesting it doesn't matter. There is a focus on helping our leaders become better people leaders and helping them retain their people through their actions -- part of that is our employee engagement surveys. It's feedback that hadn't been there for a long time before.

Joe Kelly, chief talent officer, McCann Worldgroup
Take advantage of the "network" and the "brand." There was a time where you had to do a lot of legwork to find people. These days, it's not that complicated. You use LinkedIn, you call people and very few people will opt not to have a conversation. Very few.

See potential? Say so. Telling people that they're really good, that they're a high-performing high-potential executive and that we have plans for them, those kinds of conversations are vital .... People are human and they need to know and have a conversation and they need to have feedback.

Lauren Ranke, director of creative recruiting, Wieden & Kennedy Portland
Remember, "empathy is key." Having a world class agency in Portland requires us to import a lot of our talent, and we realize it isn't just a job move, but a life move. We've become conscientious of the impact the move can have on each person, and we've shaped our recruiting to be more empathetic to that -- for example we're offering tailored relocation packages based on individual needs, but we're also giving people with families a tour of the top neighborhoods and schools in the city.

Lisa Fabiano, chief talent officer, Grey New York
Don't forget the middle. This year we are experimenting with micro-engagement coaching. Typically coaching is provided to our most senior leaders. We now want to provide it to our mid-level high potentials to reach more of our stars and future stars. It is designed to make a targeted impact on employee performance and development.

Celebrate failure. We have the Heroic Failure Award -- knowing it's OK to fail and it's even heroic, has helped our people take those risks like a talking baby for E-Trade, a gas station takeover for the Dallas season three premiere offering gas at $1.89 in Manhattan.

Sarah Hofstetter, CEO, 360i
Hire people who "get it": We have hired a lot of folks, including myself, who have a journalism background. The inquisitive nature of the job combined with crisp writing skills are perfect for almost any role at 360i. In fact, we even started a "Think Like a Journalist" workshop both at the agency as well as for our clients to help sharpen those skills. We've also recruited Ph.D.'s and rocket scientists to apply math, science and advanced analytics to creating creative marketing and media solutions for clients.

Armando Turco, head of talent, North America, BBH NY
Invest in staff's continued education. We're working with an agency called Smith and Beta. I guess you could compare them to a Hyper Island or a General Assembly in the sense that they're quite focused on digital and have some pretty progressive approaches to things. They've done a really holistic audit of us through one on one interviews, surveys, they've met with our clients, we've done some workshopping and designed a custom curriculum for us that will last most of this year. It will be 10 or 15 courses that we provide for basically everybody from the agency. And they're taught by real people from the field, which is really important.

Get non-creatives in on … the creative. We've started something we're just piloting called Culture Vultures and we take a handful of people from all disciplines that sit on the periphery of creative dev, like finance .... We group them and they get a limited budget to produce it and it's not for a particular client.

Matt Powell, co-president, New York, KBS+
Combine the startup environment with the agency scale. We run their creative tech unit a lot more like a startup than we do run it like an agency, interactive or digital division or even a more enterprise focused organization and that's allowed us to appeal to a certain type of technologist. Which is good, because they're type that we want. it's been great for retention … but it has kind of that scale of a big agency.

Teach entrepreneurship 101. Our Ventures Fellows programs .... You apply to it, if you get accepted it runs for six months at a time. it includes textbook material that we've created, it includes classes where you learn about startup funding, startup economics, raising capital, designing a product .... Bring in lots of guest speakers from the startup and VC world through our connections and ventures .... People freakin' love the class and it's not just for their own education. Part of the way we extract value from it is that they also help us review deals. They use their expertise in whatever area of the business they work in to provide input to our investment pipeline on the venture side.

Provide a little continued education. We also do training in our shop and teach people basic fabrication and basic electrical work. We've also had a few workshops on arduino and embedded computing and things like that.

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