An agency is a highly-charged environment of time pressure and people pressure. The nature of the work requires a group of intensely-passionate, creative individuals to work together to produce an effective, impressive creative product, and - sometimes - sparks will fly.
Just to make this pressure-cooker environment even more challenging, you may also have to deal with an unpredictable diva (man or woman).
Diva-ness can present itself it various ways, but he (or she) will usually exhibit one or more of the following personality traits:
A diva usually always has an inflated sense of self-importance (ego), and he can most often be found in the more creative and senior agency roles. Although ego will come across in a negative fashion, it's a double-edged sword as you need your creatives to have a high level of confidence. You need them to be able to say "my creative work is amazing; it is the only solution you could ever need; and you have to buy in to it." You need them to back themselves and their work 100%. That's the type of confidence that will help you to sell your agency's creative ideas to your client. However, working with a diva can be intimidating and downright scary at times, especially when you have to work alongside them every day.
Although you may get caught in the crosshairs of a diva outburst, it is important to remember that his eruptions usually have nothing whatsoever to do with you personally. It is more likely that he:
Even if you don't like your diva's working style, you may still be able to take some inspiration from him. A diva is usually extremely talented, hard-working, and hungry for success. Understanding how your diva ticks will go a long way to figuring out how best to work with him.
Is your diva really good at what he does? Does he get results? Is he well-awarded? Bingo! When agency management is focused on the bottom line, if a diva is uniquely talented and a major contributor to that bottom line, then divas are almost always worth the trouble to keep around.
By the time a diva is "all grown up", their behaviours and attitudes can be pretty well set, so it's often easier to let your diva be a diva as long as his output is of the standard that your agency requires.
Unless someone very senior (and/or very brave) tells your diva to pull their head in and behave, you'll just have to figure out how to work in harmony with him. Once you realise that your diva may throw his toys at you, but not necessarily because of you, dealing with this unconventional person should become easier.
When you have organisational authority over a diva, you are in a much better position to address and (hopefully) eliminate unwanted practices.
You will need to sit down with your diva and go over his job description and agency expectations. This is the time to highlight what is and is not acceptable workplace behaviour. If you do not address his diva-esque moments, you run the risk of losing good team members who are perhaps not as equipped to handle his outbursts as you are.
You'll also learn when to pick your battles, and insulate other members of your team from having to go into battle themselves.
It can be a pretty unpleasant situation if you are working in the pocket of a diva, especially if his critical attention focuses on you. There may be no other choice but to capitulate to his whims to keep from rocking the boat too strongly.
If you feel undermined, bullied, micro-managed or if he overrides your best ideas, you can certainly try addressing these issues. If nothing changes, then all you can really do is smile, continue to do the best job you can, learn all that you can, and let the negativity slide off your shoulders. If the situation is really bad, you may have to start scanning the job vacancy ads.
If the situation is bearable, then ask good questions and deliver good results. Make your diva-boss look as good as you possibly can and try to ensure you remain an ally rather than a victim.
The best way to deal with a diva-client is to try and get to know him as well as you can. If you can get inside his head you'll begin to understand not only what he wants, but why he wants it. Once you do that you will be able to look past his diva-behaviour to see his agendas, his motivators, and his fears, and figure out the best way forward.
Yes, your diva client will expect you to bow to his every wish (which you will usually have to do), but remember that sometimes you will only gain your client's respect when you show a bit of backbone!
The good news is that a diva is rarely in "diva-mode" 24/7. They will have their moments of being fabulously annoying, but they can also have moments of normality and vulnerability. It's in those peaceful times that you can work on building a rapport that will - hopefully - safeguard you (and your sanity) for the future.
Comments will be approved before showing up.
Our gift to you!
SIGN UP TO RECEIVE REGULAR ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT TIPS FROM AM-INSIDER, AND YOU WILL RECEIVE 100% OFF THE PURCHASE PRICE OF ANY ONE MICROSOFT WORD OR EXCEL RESOURCE FROM THE AM-INSIDER WEBSITE. THAT'S ONE RESOURCE
CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP NOW!
It's our way of saying THANK YOU for subscribing, plus a BIGGER THANK YOU for caring about your career and wanting to become the best account management professional you can be. We're in behind you all the way.