The New KPI for Advertisers and Agencies

November 22, 2019 | Lorraine Stewart

Discover the Surprising Solution for People Problems

Sometimes the pace, pressure and myopic focus of Q4 can feel like a bad winter cold. Marketers strive to deliver a strong finish to this year and hustle to set the KPI’s for next, building the case for investment in resources. It wears us down – taking an emotional and physical toll on the human beings who get the work done.

Nowhere is a balanced approach to resource planning more critical to brand outcomes than the relationship advertisers have with their advertising agencies. These integrated teams of people want to work together in ways that are productive and positive…yet sometimes it feels a bit chilly.

The good news is the antidote to stress and burnout may be more accessible than we imagined.

For a person to feel satisfied with work life, s/he is impacted by two inter-related things: how s/he feels individually and the surrounding organizational culture. These factors are further impacted by reciprocal dynamics between the two.

Employees with high degrees of job satisfaction, aka “happy people” will engage with attitudes and behaviors that lift others. They positively impact the organizational cultures in which they operate. In turn, healthy cultures will help people flourish, inspire engagement and influence the commitment to stay. Unhappy people with lower job satisfaction levels negatively impact others they work with, and dare we say, ruin the cultural climate.

Advertising agencies are indirectly impacted by the culture of the client companies that they serve. Team members need positive cultural conditions to produce insights and creativity, the hallmark of brand differentiation clients seek. Highly satisfied agency employees also stick around – allowing agencies to provide the much desired continuity of personnel that clients value.

Holidays On the Horizon

This holiday season is the opportunity for corporate marketing and agency leaders to inspire a relationship renaissance among their teams before a new year and a new contract begins.

Each of us can elevate the singular core value proven to make the biggest difference on job satisfaction and team culture.

The Attitude of Gratitude

Gratitude is the core cultural value that has the biggest impact on “the domain of relationships”, according to Dr. Robert Emmons, UC Professor and leading scientific expert on the Effect of Gratitude.

Expression of gratitude is a both a powerful stress reliever and team builder. The practice of the attitude of gratitude comes from a place of positivity, affirmation and recognition. Gratitude enables a person to feel good and do good.

Dr. Lea Waters, PhD and researcher on Gratitude in the Workplace, agrees. She describes the results of the scientific study of the key predictors of job satisfaction and concludes that feeling grateful determines 25% of job satisfaction. The conclusion is that “work places aiming to increase job satisfaction can do so through organizationally-based gratitude interventions and by institutionalizing gratitude into workplace culture.”

Both Emmons and Waters support that fact that expressions of gratitude reduce a person’s perceived levels of stress and positively impact well-being! Gratitude engages both cognitive and emotional components that juice our brains in big ways.  It triggers these feelings of satisfaction because of the innate human need to be seen, recognized and valued.

More than a One Note Song

Before the attitude of gratitude is written off as too simplistic to solve for complex corporate challenges or a fix for dysfunctional teams, take a moment to consider what achieving and practicing the state of gratitude actually means. Genuine gratitude is born from a place of humility, empathy and inter-dependency. There is perceived risk in the act of giving, and vulnerability in receiving. It requires a considered shift to focus on others vs self, and away from negativity towards affirmation and positivity. It builds trust.

The act of expressing gratitude to another person also creates openness and receptivity, counter-acting hostility and defensiveness. It’s an interesting place to start a difficult conversation.

2020 KPI: Kinder Practices Ahead

The annual company holiday party is certainly a fun way to celebrate success and recognize the good efforts and people who got us there. Who doesn’t love a festive party?

But the pros suggest that the Practices & Techniques of Gratitude as “an institutionalized core value” require ongoing behaviors; actions that affirm others with the emphasis on respect, positive recognition and performance, and sharing wins and gains, even small ones.

Gratitude Workshop ~ Tips to get started

Individuals who want to show gratitude towards others can:

  1. Start with an empathetic shift in thinking to the position of another colleague.
  2. Follow this by the investment of time. Make a list of four colleagues to connect with each quarter. Treat them to a meal or coffee; simply express gratitude for their contributions to your work life.
  3. Make it a point to check fast-paced written and verbal communication, e.g., group conference calls and emails. Start or finish each with an expression of appreciation. Change the cultural dynamic by affirming others and holding up those things for which we are most grateful.

Companies working with many external partners and agencies:

Productive client-agency teams start with making smart hiring decisions. Working together effectively is strengthened by engaging advertising agency partners with a (year-long) spirit of appreciation for the work they do.

  1. Forget criticism. To motivate agencies to do better, coach everyone on client teams how to provide constructive and productive feedback to people about the work in progress.
  2. Make a plan to get together, then be together. Scheduled a new year visit to the agency’s home base to say thank you to the many people who will work on your business.
  3. Sharing & Caring: Piggyback a fun visioning session, charitable activity or foodie-lovers event in and around other scheduled meetings.
  4. Emojie-this: Write a personal note (and send some cool swag) to your agency team to say thanks; If possible, extend company product or service discounts to partners.
  5. Get Smart: plan to attend an industry event together to learn what’s next in digital marketing.

Agencies can (re)commit to serving their clients with gratitude:

  1. Recharge: Find the heart in serving not selling, in what is actually a service-based industry.
  2.  Reframe: help team members forgive the fluid nature of marketing; flexibility and adaptation is key.
  3. Shift Right: leaders can dramatically shift focus to recognize all that is going well vs placing highest attention on what is wrong, or placing blame.
  4. Give Props: show appreciation of specific individuals at all levels of an organization by supporting what it important to them, in social media and when together in-person.
  5. Respect That: embrace each client’s DNA, culture and unique ways of working as the opportunity for the diversity of perspective that comes from being a part of the still marvelous advertising industry.

This holiday season, marketing and advertising professionals have the opportunity pause, reflect and grow with gratitude. We can model thankfulness and express gratitude to and for others as a new habit. We can be open to receive grace and kindness, for which we are humbled and thankful. We can also step back and let the light shine on the goodness of the giver this year.

The Attitude of Gratitude becomes our new cultural KPI. It triggers a powerful cycle of trust-building; giving and receiving appreciation, feeling thankful and motivated to give in return.

We can enter yet another new year feeling renewed. 

Interested in connecting about finding adverting agency partners that team better together? Contact us!