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It’s a new year (still), the perfect time for belated resolutions and soapbox pronouncements about how we could make 2012 better than any year that preceded it. Here are Agency Babylon’s in and out recommendations for marketers, including agencies and clients alike.

OUT: Faux-thentic | IN: Authentic. So much that is presented as authentic is falsely relevant or truly disingenuous. To connect with customers, clients and others you’d like to influence try seeing things from their perspectives with a bias for how it happens in their real worlds – not your bias. Then go to work crafting messages and experiences with which they’ll genuinely connect.

OUT: Blame | IN: Accountability. Inevitably, things go wrong. At least some things some of the time. Rather than turning that into an opening for recriminations and fault-finding try to leverage it for better performance. Sure, someone might have done something “wrong,” but if it wasn’t willful or fatal, park your ego and make some lemonade. Accountability is always in fashion, though, and should be both delegated with clarity and embraced with maturity.

OUT: Silos | IN: Collaboration. Silos are fiefdoms erected by egos without an organizational perspective. Collaboration is borne out of a sense service and tends to float everyone’s boat. If you’ve built a silo, then you’re not a leader and should step aside (or be made to for the good of the larger enterprise).

OUT: Sales | IN: Development. There is absolutely nothing wrong with sales or selling. Except when it’s tone-deaf relative to the needs of the customer. And when it happens absent a larger strategy and the full support of the organization. Taking aim at agencies here, that is still too often the case and that leads to bouts of blame (see above). A development mentality need not be painstakingly strategic but it should envision both short- and longer-term planning. All the better for being around when 2013 ins and outs are proclaimed.

OUT: Backward | IN: Forward. Resting on your laurels is tempting. So tempting in fact that individuals and agencies feel compelled to make their case based solely on what they did in the past. Unless you invented the wheel or harnessed fire, however, smart clients and employers are at least as interested in what you will do going forward. By all means learn from and leverage the past, but be sure to apply that to today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.

OUT: Talking | IN: Listening.This one is self-evident. Realistically, you should strive for a balance here.

What do you think should be OUT and IN for marketers in 2012? Share your pairs in the comments section.

Glenn Hilton, president and founder of ImageX Media, shares his company’s positive internal culture recipe at the company’s blog. Read “In Pursuit of Awesome: Our Company Values” for some inspiration. Needless to say, these principles are (1) always works in progress and (2) bound to have a positive impact on the company’s external reputation. The latter is good for recruiting and retaining top talent and an invaluable asset to new business development.

Can you imagine an upside to a lousy company culture? I don’t think so. And that should be motivation enough to add some positive mojo from the top down, the bottom up and the middle in all directions.

When Advertising Age and Adweek and multiple bloggers begin to write about agency culture and hiring, and when those topics get plenty of play on Twitter, Facebook and other forums, then things just might be looking up.

I’ve always believed that optimistic voices and attitudes beget optimistic behavior. That might sound like voodoo to some, but it sure beats the alternative: dour, pessimistic world views.

Call me a Pollyanna (actually, I’d strongly advise against that), but my level of optimism perked up upon reading this article in Advertising Age‘s Agency Issue:  “In Adland, the Best Culture Lures the Best Talent.” Despite the fact that the article uses the word “neat” without irony, it’s a positive read.

In that spirit, I’ll refer you to two recent pieces from this blog that address some fundamentals of agency life, particularly as new talent comes on board:

Other recommended reading is by Gene Rebeck, senior editor at Twin Cities Business magazine. Jump over to his BTW blog post about what he, also without irony – OK, maybe a little, calls upbeatniks:

Now let’s go hire people and have some fun. Oh, and do a bit of client work in the mix.

Hey, Mr. or Ms. Just Hired. If you’re counting on your new employer or colleagues to plug you into to the place you’re about to spend the majority of your waking hours, think again. Even if you go to work for the most socially sophisticated place in town, it is not entirely up to others to make you the belle of the ball (or whatever metaphor suits you).

Here are some ideas for how to fit in faster, both from work productivity and chemistry standpoints:

  1. Peek behind the curtain: Request/require a tour of the office – the entire office (except for that locked room on the dimly lit corridor; just forget you saw that). Ideally, do that during the interview process and especially if they’ve indicated that you are a finalist. Be cautious about a potential or new employer that resists this simple request. No need to get suspicious; there might be a reason it’s not possible on a given day. Head off that obstacle and make the request before you go into the interview or your first day.
  2. Get personal: Use the first week or two for one-on-one meetings with team members with whom you’ll work most closely. Take the initiative here instead of waiting for someone else to set up these get-togethers.
  3. String the tin cans together: When you first meet with team members, especially those with whom you’ll have the most (or most important) interaction, ask them this question: “What’s the best way for me to communicate with you?” Options might be: set up an appointment, just drop in, e-mail or IM me, go through Twitter – whatever. The point is that you’ll start out on the right foot by finding efficiency in communications. Oh, make sure you share the same information in return.
  4. Go beyond the basics: Now you’ve clicked in with your core comrades. But the world is larger than what you see from your desk. Get out there and meet people in other areas of the company and find out who the gatekeepers are, how things really work and who holds both positional and personal power.
  5. Be social: There’s plenty of debate over whether the workplace is exclusively a professional setting or if it can be a place to socialize as well. Socialization is inevitable (fraternization, on the other hand, is something to avoid, if you know what I mean). If you find a culture that supports after-hours hanging out, try to participate early on. No need to go overboard if you have a life outside the office. Socialize within reason at least once in your early days at the new gig, and make time for it at least occasionally thereafter.

What was your game plan the last time you jumped on board a new organization? What did you do to make the transition work better for yourself and your company? Share your tips here.

Have you created an internal culture at your agency (or any workplace) that you’d want to join yourself?

When you come on board at a new job do you do all that you can to plug in to the prevailing culture?

Even for the most extroverted and self-confident among us, joining a new team can be a trial. Yet it needn’t be a tribulation, and the responsibility for that rests both with the organization and the new team member.

Here are five things (not THE five things, just common sense things) a company or organization should do when bringing a new team member on board:

  1. Show the intel inside: Give the candidate a tour of the office so he or she can see what day-to-day work life feels, looks and sounds like. Allow time for some interaction with future co-workers. Maybe that happens early in the interviewing process or possibly at the offer meeting. Just do it (and candidates, demand it).
  2. Beyond filling out forms: Have a clear agenda for the new hire for his or her first few days. Unless this person truly must hit the ground running, these initial days often are a huge waste of time. And the paperwork just isn’t that scintillating.
  3. Have a game plan: Oh, so that means you should have a get-up-to-speed plan for this person. While that might seem obvious, it’s hardly standard practice. If you can’t articulate why they’ve been brought on board, then maybe it was a hasty hiring decision.
  4. Lunch and learn: For each day the first week, assign the new hire a lunch buddy – or buddies. These lunch dates should be with people key to the new person’s get-up-to-speed plan.
  5. Rule of thumb(nail): Make sure the entire staff gets a thumbnail profile of the newbie. A couple quick paragraphs should explain his or her new role and reporting relationships; what assignments the new team member will be tackling; and where he/she came front and particular areas of expertise. All these tidbits will help new colleagues make connections with this person, presumably to speed up the bonding process

Next up will be a list of things to do when you are the new team member coming on board. Stay tuned.

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