Effectively Meld Talent to Win as Integrated Shop

To Do so Requires You to Re-examine Your Infrastructure

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Michael Drexler
Michael Drexler
Rochelle Geller
Rochelle Geller
Imagine this: Employee A has been working in the advertising/media business for more than 20 years, steadily developing productive relationships and delivering value-added strategies for long-term growth. Employee B is five years out of college, focused on metrics and applications, developing online strategies, and dedicated to making an immediate impact.

Can they work together? Yes; they have to. As traditional media and marketing giants strive to compete and flourish in a world where change is coming all too fast and new companies are being launched daily to meet the challenges of the future, both "cultures" must blend effectively to create more-modern and more-profitable media and marketing solutions. Today, total integration -- of structure, processes, resources, decision-making authority and, yes, talent -- is both the challenge and the opportunity.

But change requires more than a cultural fit; it means re-examining the infrastructure. And as traditional media organizations acquire, hire or merge with digital media, they also must invest in technology and develop cross-training.

Change needs to start at the top, with an overriding vision. It's necessary to be aware of industry trends, to know what clients and customers are looking for and what competitors are doing, and then to develop an execution strategy that adds marketing and media value. That, of course, can also create risk. An execution strategy must be implemented with a realistic timetable and an actionable plan. It needs to be clearly and consistently communicated to employees, who must feel they can contribute to the vision.

Rich compensation packages, meanwhile, don't guarantee success. For many employees, psychic rewards are a vital part of the equation, and these get paid out by recognition, by the opportunity to learn and grow, by a sense of teamwork and support. This is what shakes off complacency and turns corridor conversations into goals and objectives, not sacrifices and burdens.

So how do you find the right people to hire in the first place? Most agencies and media companies today are looking for talent with different skills and expertise. They won't find much of it at their competitors. Instead, they need to look outside their comfort zones to other industry segments and sometimes other countries.

Michael Drexler is founder and chairman of Drexler Geller Associates, an executive search firm specializing in media and advertising.
Rochelle Geller is founder and president of Drexler Geller Associates.
Once there, how do you make new hires comfortable? By making sure they feel they have stakes in the company's success, that their individual efforts matter and that they are part of a team. They also need to know what is expected of them and whether they're meeting expectations. That fosters loyalty.

There is an alarming rate of turnover in the agency and media business. Sure, turnover is a natural part of business, but unwanted turnover is expensive, and employees unhappy in their positions can create a toxic atmosphere. Productive companies will boost employee performance and retention by recognizing that the biggest payoff for employees is not just the paycheck but also the satisfaction that comes from a job well done.

When people from outside the industry are brought in, it often causes a cultural imbalance. For companies with the right vision, perspective and commitment, it is also an opportunity. Human resources must be well-integrated so a company can seamlessly adopt new disciplines. Only then can companies maximize productivity across all departments. And only then will the corporate culture reflect itself to clients and future employers as positive, constructive and profitable.
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