Getting the best out of your team

March 15, 2014

When folks ask me what I do for a job, rather than say "I am an Account Manager", sometimes I reply "I keep people happy".

At the core, an Account Manager is a "people-pleaser". We strive to keep our clients happy by delivering results that match or exceed expectations; and we strive to keep our team happy, because without their co-operation and excellence, we are nothing.

I have first-hand witnessed one Account Manager's "style" of using colourful expletives, sullen demeanour, raised tone and intimidation to get results out of her wider team (creatives, administration, suppliers). Certainly she would see almost-instant action and results, but there was no denying the obvious - almost palpable - erosion of respect and trust between herself and her colleagues.

Think about the dynamics between yourself and your team (or yourself and your clients) in the same way you would about building relationships in your personal life. The relationships have to be nurtured over time, and they have to be a two-way street and genuine to be successful. What you give out, you will get back... magnified. Conversely, if your actions, and attitude, towards your team suck the lifeblood out of them, you will also see a return on that negative investment.

Here are some ways in which you can encourage the best out of your team so that they "want" to work for you:

  • Be nice.
  • Be genuine.
  • Smile. You can brighten someone's day with a simple smile.
  • Request, don't demand.
  • Keep an even and gentle tone when you speak. If the situation demands more "emphasis", then still try to keep your cool. Getting flustered or showing annoyance will usually be met with defensiveness and push-back. Remember that you are all playing for the same team to achieve the same outcome.
  • Negative or harsh words can crush a person, and be remembered for years to come.
  • If practical, ask "when would you be able to get this back to me by?". That way your team member has been able to make a choice, and it makes them more accountable to you for their decision. It also comes across as if you are not making an unreasonable demand.
  • Say "thank you"...a lot!
  • Give an occasional pat on the back.
  • Offer to help.
  • Ask for feedback or advice.
  • Give treats for the team when goals are reached.
  • Send out company-wide thank yous (bulk email or company EDM) for projects that involve multiple team members. Acknowledge each person by name and their specific contribution. Don't forget the people who might usually be forgotten (e.g. the person in Finance or Dispatch who may have contributed significantly to the success of a particular campaign).
  • Tell your team members when they have done a good job. A "well done" (especially if said in front of other colleagues or management) can be a huge morale-booster.
  • Learn the difference between encouragement and flattery. Flattery is shallow and insincere and worse than if you had said nothing at all.

Encouragement and praise does not come naturally for some people, and may be one of those many skills in life that you will need to work hard at. For an Account Manager, learning the art of encouragement is essential to maintaining a happy, productive and motivated team. When your team is happy, you will be happy, and your clients will be, win, win! 

When your team is happy, you will be happy, and your clients will be, win, win! – Sarah Ritchie




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