If You Manage People, Be As Good As My First Boss
A few weeks ago I wrote an article about what the next generation of professionals in this business should do to enter into and manage themselves in the workforce. I thought long and hard about that one, and many commented. Well, now it’s time to think through the other side of the relationship: what we, the managers, owe to the incoming workforce.
As managers, one of our greatest challenges and highest responsibilities is to help train and mentor this next generation. It is our job to help them realize their potential, even when they don’t see it for themselves. That means we have to be clear about what we want, define what we need, and set a clear roadmap of expectations. It also means taking into account one of the things we all learned in kindergarten: treat others as you would like to be treated.
Pete Meluso was my first real boss in advertising, and he was so good that I followed him to my next job and worked with him for the first five years of my career. He was hard at times, making me rewrite pages of presentations as many as 10 times in one sitting, but he was fair. He always took the time to explain why I was being asked to make the changes, and he never left me out of the loop. He recognized when my ideas were good, and he tutored me when my ideas needed refinement. It was his guidance, and the guidance I had gotten when I was in the Newhouse School at Syracuse University, that shaped my ability to be a marketer.
It was Pete’s guidance, especially, that got me thinking in terms of innovation. He taught me that when you have something good and it’s working, you should tear it all down and start again with the knowledge you learned from success -- and, most likely, that process will allow you to emerge at the other end with something even better.
He also taught me customers require focus, and you need to spend time with them. Face time with the client is important. When you say something face to face, it carries more weight than on the phone, and certainly more weight than over email.
Pete taught me a lot of things, but what’s most important: Whomever you work with and especially whomever you are managing, they are important and they deserve your help to shape a successful relationship. What that means is, you don’t send interns to get coffee, and you don’t send subordinates to do menial tasks for you. They should be challenged and integrated into the work that you do, and you should never ask them to do something that you yourself wouldn’t do. I always knew that Pete would dive in and help if I needed it, and nothing I was doing was beneath him helping out.
So as a manager the single biggest takeaway I can lay out is that you need to treat everyone the same -- whether they are an entry-level person, an intern, or the CEO of the company you work at. They deserve to be treated fairly. They deserve to be treated with respect, and if they are a part of the team, then they deserve to be trained and worked with the same as anyone else on the team.
If you’re hiring this next generation of Internet marketing employees, or any employee for that matter, be sure to think how Pete would have worked with them. Think how your first boss worked with you, and take the good, ditch the bad and become that manager they will remember fondly. Try to be the person they would write an article about almost 20 years later.
I know it will make you feel good to read it when the time comes. Thanks, Pete!