I’m often asked the question: “what sustains Memac Ogilvy’s edge?”.
My answer has always been the same: Training.
As with the majority of corporations; its most important and influential assets are its people. The type of skill sets that communication experts must master are as wide ranging as social media, presentation skills, commercial and business acumen, idea generation techniques, technological expertise as well as leadership and management skills.
We are extremely lucky to be able to draw from the rich and diverse Ogilvy skill set globally. What I encourage most is using the in-house experts in their field to train people across our network. I believe being coached by one’s peers is invaluable. We also hire specialists and trainers from internationally-renowned training companies, to run workshops for us, depending on our requirements.
With the prevailing global recession these last few years, most agencies have tightened their belts and cut down on training and development, assuming this will help them weather the storm. My philosophy on trying times is simple albeit slightly unique: Don’t change your way of doing things. Most markets fluctuate, and if you look at the companies and people who have been most successful during trying times, they have maintained their Modus Operandus.
The way I think about it is this; a communication agency is a people-based business. Investing in our people is exactly that – an investment and not a cost.
As leader of this agency, I consider one of my key roles to bring out the best performance from my staff. I try to lead by example, and I do my fair share of supporting and mentoring whenever possible. Investment in formal training helps me complete that role.
It is our people that give us our competitive edge and, without a doubt, training does lead to increased productivity and growth.
Let’s look at some of the reasons:
1. Motivation – As I explained in my Branding’s Big Guns interview with Entrepreneur Middle East, people come and give you their time, their talent, intelligence and experience and what do you give them? Money? Anybody can give money. So we create an environment where people are motivated – that’s an environment where people learn and enjoy working.
Clients can sense when their agency team is motivated and will value the ‘can-do’ innovative thinking associated with such a positive attitude.
2. Networking – A true agency network is not merely dots on a geographical map of the world, showing various office locations. It’s about building true connections and a collaborative spirit between people across countries and geographies.
Regional training programs offer wonderful opportunities for staff, from across our 15 offices, to meet and forge stronger professional relationships, which in turn, translate into smoother, more efficient servicing of our International clients’ businesses.
3. Loyalty – When measuring job satisfaction and loyalty, today’s employees consider their no.1 priority to be career development and training. When you invest and care about the development of an employee and their future, they reward you back with their loyalty.
4. Client satisfaction – David Ogilvy famously stated: “I prefer the discipline of knowledge to the anarchy of ignorance”. I couldn’t agree more with this statement – and I’m certain our clients share this belief. Training improves an employee’s education and skill set. Skilled employees are empowered and more confident, capable of assuming the most challenging tasks by adopting more innovative, expert approaches. Clients appreciate having their businesses handled by efficient, high caliber teams and this contributes to greater trust and longer term partnerships with our clients.
This exciting, ever-changing fast- paced communication industry is constantly demanding new skills of its practitioners. One of the most effective ways we keep up and maintain productivity is by training our people and equipping them with the skill sets, they need, to stay one step ahead of the game.
Having said all of that, there is one element that has to be the foundation for training: Self Education. I was having a conversation with an Account Manager recently, mostly about career path and personal growth, and was fascinated by the sheer number of tools available to help someone learn. Between the countless online portals, the apps, the online universities, courses, seminars .. the list is truly endless. The expression “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” has never been more meaningful. What I encourage the most is people to learn every day, take the time to better yourself, and let the formalised courses amplify what you already know.
Now that I have shared my perspective on training I am left wondering, do you all believe that formal training courses still play a fruitful role in the professional world?