Q: There are so many agencies. How can I distinguish good marketers from bad ones?
LA: In many countries, one can’t be a licensed lawyer without passing the bar exam. In six countries (Kuwait included), to be a certified accountant that’s taken seriously you need pass the CPA exam. However, when it comes to Marketing, Public Relations, Advertising, and Media the doors are wide open for anyone to join the market. No regulations, no associations, and no accreditation either. There’s no mandatory entry exam that one must pass to qualify working in the field. The only rule/qualification in this industry is based on Nike’s tag line: ‘Just Do It’. So, as long as it is still harder to become a bus driver than to become an employee in the Marketing field, approach this species with great caution. Evaluate what you hear and don’t assume that anyone working in this field is automatically an expert in it.
The strange part is that the above paragraph applies to employees working on both sides of the fence, clients and agencies. When looking for a new agency, avoid starting with requesting quotations and presentations, you’re not buying a projector for your meeting room. Have a discussion with their Marketing Planners about marketing. Understand their analysis of the current challenges and opportunities. Visit their agency and give them a pop ‘fake’ brief to witness how they think as a team. Ask about how they helped their clients achieve their goals and look for numbers rather than campaign posters. Why? Because quite often the quality of the creative team is not a reflection of the knowledge level of the Marketing team…and that’s just my two cents.
Q: Considering the poor performance of our organization, we expected our CEO to resign by now. We complained about everything that’s lacking, but nothing happened. Should we go on a strike demanding his resignation?
LA: Employees who strike are usually backed by unions or they know that their sheer volume would give them leverage in negotiation with the board. They’re also employees who might find it difficult to find another job easily, like some semi-skilled workers in factories, for example. So, consult a lawyer first to understand your legal rights and what you can and can’t do with your company. Most employees don’t strike, they just give up and stay as zombie staff (soulless) or they just land a new job and switch. Besides, pushing the CEO to resign is not necessarily the best option. Resigning doesn’t always mean solving the problem. CEOs have the ability to fall standing on their feet. Forcing them to resign is not going to threaten their livelihood and, therefore, it won’t be much of a punishment as such.
Ask yourself first: did the CEO cause the problems? If s/he didn’t, then is it that the CEO is capable but wouldn’t solve your demands, or is it that s/he tried and couldn’t? CEOs, especially those who took the job without much qualification might be open to guidance but only if you approach them the right way (meaning avoid clashing with their egos). Place the idea in their head (watch Inception for inspiration) in such a way that it seems like their idea and always show them how what you want is good for the company and for their own image in front of the Board, the source of their sleepless nights. CEOs that are clearly guilty of bringing the company down or profiting the business at the cost of treating employees unfairly or unethically should be asked to fix the problem or face legal actions…and that’s just my two cents.
Q: Our Division Manager is unfair. She allows some employees to have flexible time at work while others can’t. When I asked to have the same advantage, I was told that every employee has different needs. How is that fair?
LA: When employees join any company they’re looking for a better future. The question is better than what exactly? It could be better money, better working environment, more flexibility from management or more respect, a better career, a higher job title, more support or coaching, or a combination of some. Since people have different circumstances, aspirations and characters, their motivations and needs are diverse too. Many managers fall in the trap of treating everyone the same in the name of being fair. Actually, to achieve fairness they need to do the opposite. Equality needs to be in the manager’s mind as a principle and in the scale of the treat they reward their employees with, but equality doesn’t have to be in the type of these rewards as well.
Lets say you have three employees that you’d like to reward for their outstanding performance in a recent major project: A dynamic new graduate who cares about making extra cash; a parent with a newborn who appreciates having extra time off; and a career-driven employee who likes any opportunity to advance his or her knowledge. If you reward the graduate with a one-time bonus, the parent with shorter working hours for a set period, and a coaching session with a leader in the organization for the third employee, you were fair and more importantly observant. Giving everyone a day off won’t have the same impact. Good managers build a motivating scheme for their employees. Great managers tailor their motivational offers to suit each employee’s needs separately…and that’s just my two cents.
For Loaay Ahmed’s advice on business or work matters, send a short email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that only the questions chosen for publishing will be answered.
Loaay Ahmed is a management consultant and strategic expert. To learn more about Loaay and his consulting service, strategic business therapy,