Sally Henderson
Executive Mentor
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Sally Henderson

The 4 things Creative Agencies need to know about Talent

So often creative organisations don't know what they don't know when it comes to people and talent priorities! Why? Because nobody has the time to properly focus, nobody's trained specifically in talent, or if there is an in-house talent or HR person, they're over-stretched already. So, a lot of vital knowledge and understanding around people and talent is being missed out on by agencies.

The thing is, agencies need to know what you currently don't know around people and talent. Otherwise, how will you become informed, effective, and get the best out of your investment around people? There are four vital areas I believe will transform a creative agency's understanding of people and talent. And here they are:

Firstly, get clear on the emotion that's going on in your business right now.

(if you read Is Emotion Blocking or Boosting your Leadership you know this is a passionate one for me!)

How are your people genuinely feeling? I have seen many amazing Leaders“go native”, as I call it. People can become a bit immune to the emotion that's going on and stop seeing what's right in front of them because sometimes, as a busy future-focused leader, you don’t always want to open the box. Investing in an expert objective person to read the real emotional situation in your business better enables the business to understand and harness the power of emotion in the best way across leadership level, right down to grassroots, and back up again.

Secondly, you need to understand the talent you've invested in already.

Do you understand the talent you have already and how to maximise this resource on behalf of your business, your clients, and your end goals? Are you creating happy, fulfilled, effective people at work? Or are you simply too busy and stuck in a talent rut that you keep going out to market and buying again and again, a bit like groundhog day. I.e: "Oh that person's left, let's go get another one." It is so much more effective when a creative agency has the bravery to pause and understand what skills and talent you've already bought, that's right there in front of you waiting to be developed, or itching to be given the reins so they can prove what they can do.

Thirdly. Get clear on how to attract highly desirable talent in a competitive market.

a) Assess your employer brand from a specific talent engagement perspective. It's a fast moving tough talent market out there. The stars that you're looking to attract have a lot of choice if they're any good. Are you telling a message to the market that was very effective five years ago, but is falling on deaf ears now? How do you know? Bring someone expertise and objective in so you can have the confidence you are maximising all opportunity.

b) You need to be creating a talent experience. We all hear about the value of a customer experience out there, but come on creative agencies, are you really walking the walk? Are you creating a talent experience for prospective talent, so you're truly engaging them and maximising your success rate?

c) Train your people how to recruit. Recruitment is not something that everyone can do. Just because you can hold a conversation and have great client relationships does not mean you can recruit well. Agencies say "our people are what make us different, our people are our biggest asset," yet they're putting ill-equipped people on the front line to spot that talent, to recruit it, to interview it, to assess it, to attract it. All with no training! It's a simple quick win. Put training in place around recruitment, it will stop you having so much pain and problems, I guarantee.

Fourthly. Retain people better.

In my career, I have seen agencies throw hundreds of thousands of pounds out of the window, because they're not retaining people better. You'll buy in an expensive leader, you'll expect them, almost by osmosis, to know what they're there to do, and how to translate into your culture, and deliver often without a clear job description or on boarding process. 

Creative Agencies more often than not fail new senior appointments, (Here's a quick video on this very point!) Every good skilled person out there will get faster results better working with the right mentor and coaching. Look at Andy Murray, it's a cliché I know, but look at what he's achieved by having the right team of experts around him. 

If your leaders are performing to 7/10 level but with a mentor they could be 9 or 10/10 (for a lot less money that it would cost you to replace them on a risky, no guarantee of success basis) doesn't it make sense to invest to retain better?

To recap, the four things you can be doing right now that will make you better informed around your talent and your growth potential is:

  • Read the emotion driving thinking, feeling and acting in your business more effectively
  • Understand the talent you have and how to grow them before going out to market for new talent
  • Get clear on how you are attracting and recruiting talent. Is your employer brand working well?
  • Retain your people better. Look at the fundamentals of retention around job specs and clarity. Look at motivation at work. Are you tapping into fuel in the most effective way? And are you mentoring so people can reach their ultimate success whilst with your business and you're not simply growing talent for the competition.

An effective talent diagnostic will fast-track your knowledge to understand these four vital things and how they are positively or negatively affecting your business. 

To practically help creative agencies get smarter around people and talent I am holding a Shine Brighter Roundtable on April 26th 08.15-10.00, Soho Square, London. Click here to reserve your place as this is a limited intimate event.

Please contact me on sally@sallyhenderson.co.uk to discuss how I can help your business achieve more faster through your people

A bit about me:

Over the course of my 20+ year career, I kept seeing the same mistakes, wastage and lost opportunity when it came to recruiting new talent, especially at senior level in creative agencies. And I knew this needed to change if my clients want to stay ahead of the competition.

I have (twice!) walked away from multi six-figure Recruitment and Executive Search businesses so I can fully offer my knowledge, insight and experience to my clients as a Talent Mentor so you can stop losing money, reputation and clients and start taking control of how you ATTRACT & RETAIN EXCEPTIONAL LEADERS to grow your business.

sally henderson