Campaign Middle East - - News -

I am a mar­keter at a drinks brand with more than 250 em­ploy­ees. A re­cent com­pany sur­vey pointed out to us that our un­der-35 em­ploy­ees are largely un­happy. Do I treat them the same as I treat my mil­len­nial con­sumers? Let them con­trib­ute more and al­low them to cre­ate con­tent – make videos, take photos, pen lyrics, draw mu­rals – and then give them im­me­di­ate feed­back and cel­e­brate them? I’ve waited a month or two be­fore an­swer­ing your ques­tion in the hope that I’d come to un­der­stand it. I haven’t.

It seems to me un­likely that you al­low your mil­len­nial con­sumers to make videos and take photos. It seems to me un­likely that your dis­con­tented em­ploy­ees would ap­pre­ci­ate the op­por­tu­nity to draw mu­rals. It seems to me a mat­ter of cer­tainty that your 250 dis­con­tented em­ploy­ees are not go­ing to be­come con­tented em­ploy­ees be­cause you cel­e­brate their lyrics.

I think (and I con­cede that you’re not alone in this) that you’ve been read­ing far too much rub­bish about mil­len­ni­als and that your New Year’s res­o­lu­tion should be to think of your em­ploy­ees – and, in­deed, your con­sumers – not as mil­len­ni­als but as what the more per­cep­tive so­cial com­men­ta­tors call peo­ple.

Once you re­alise that you em­ploy not mil­len­ni­als but peo­ple, it will be­come a great deal eas­ier to un­der­stand why they’re un­happy and what you can do to make them less so.

Al­most all peo­ple are com­pet­i­tive. A very few are not but you won’t find them in mar­ket­ing. Mar­ket­ing peo­ple like win­ning and dis­like los­ing. You can tell how good peo­ple are at mar­ket­ing by watch­ing them play foot­ball with their chil­dren. The good ones never let their chil­dren win.

Po­ten­tial mar­ket­ing su­per­stars are ruth­less Mo­nop­oly play­ers and get vis­i­bly distressed when they land on May­fair. Next time you’re re­cruit­ing, don’t sub­ject the can­di­dates to psy­cho­me­t­ric tests but in­vite them to play Mo­nop­oly against each other – and watch them closely. It may not be the win­ner but you’ll know which one to hire. It will be the one to whom it was clearly a mat­ter of life and death. And it’s peo­ple’s ca­pac­ity to con­fuse games with re­al­ity that’s the key to your new man­age­ment ap­proach.

Your in­ter­est in lyrics and mu­rals is the give­away. It brands you as a bit of a luvvie. You clearly be­lieve that your sen­si­tive young staff should be pro­tected from the bru­tal­is­ing as­pects of com­pet­i­tive cap­i­tal­ism. Noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth. No won­der they’re un­happy.

You should im­me­di­ately in­sti­gate an in­ter­nal com­pe­ti­tion based loosely on Model your own behaviour on that of Don­ald Trump ( Lord Sugar is too con­cil­ia­tory). Set highly am­bi­tious sales tar­gets – the more chal­leng­ing, the bet­ter. Then in­sti­tute monthly shoot-outs whereby your teams first com­pete against each other – and then with each other. Every month, one team and one individual will be fired: by you, pub­licly, con­temp­tu­ously and in front of their peers.

Be­cause all true mar­keters take win­ning games as se­ri­ously as they take win­ning life, the pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing fired at the monthly face­down will be just as mo­ti­vat­ing as the pos­si­bil­ity of be­ing fired for real – which, of course, they won’t be. Your sales re­sults will ex­ceed all records and your next staff sur­vey will re­port a steep de­cline in staff un­hap­pi­ness. And if some still claim to be un­happy, at least you’ll know why. Haven’t I just an­swered a ques­tion from you?

Man­age­ment roles in ad­land are never go­ing to be palat­able to any­one who has been en­cour­aged to be­lieve that they are en­ti­tled to stress-free em­ploy­ment and the uni­ver­sal ac­cep­tance that bed­time al­ways takes prece­dence over new busi­ness. Take away the un­cer­tain­ties, the highs and the lows, the tri­umphs and the dis­as­ters, the jug­gling of pri­or­i­ties – and, for many, you take away what helps to make the trade an ab­sorb­ing one. It’s pos­si­ble to make it work – but never be­cause of a hu­man-re­sources hand­book or pre­scribed man­age­ment pro­ce­dures. Mak­ing it work de­pends on the agility, wit, in­ven­tive­ness, em­pa­thy and inex­haustible good hu­mour of the individual.

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