OPINION | Modern agencies need a clear and defined purpose writes Musa Kalenga

In the local advertising industry spending has starting to normalise, and in many cases increase, full-year results. It’s now essential for agency businesses to have high-performing teams. Finding and managing them, however, is no easy task.   

In SA, diversity is at the core of maintaining high levels of performance in any sector. But with our industry transformation agenda woefully lagging, the question is if we can’t achieve transformation, can we achieve any measure of diversity? And if we can’t achieve diversity, will we be able to develop high-performing teams? I believe it’s possible. 

The first step in managing a high-performing team in an emerging market is to create a clear purpose for the agency. This purpose should be compelling and comprehensive, capturing the heartbeat of the organisation as well as the way it intends to tackle the challenges of the market with values and goals. The purpose should be communicated to the team with clarity and enthusiasm, so that everyone can be on the same page. Baking-in purpose will help to create a culture of excellence and motivate employees to strive beyond their job spec for the best results. 

Then, an agency needs a team of employees who are well-suited to the specific new challenges of the market. This means recruiting not just experienced professionals but also those who have the right skills and attitude. The world of creativity is being turned on its head, so baseline competency coupled with an appreciation of what technology will enable us to do is crucial. It is also important to ensure that the team is made up of individuals with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, as this will help to foster innovation and creativity.  

The next step is to ensure that the team is well-equipped to handle the demands of the market. This means providing the necessary resources, such as technology and training, to enable them to work efficiently and effectively. It is important to ensure that the team has access to the latest trends and developments in the industry, so that they can stay ahead of the competition.  

Teams need to be reminded that past success doesn’t guarantee future success in a world that is being transformed by technology. All historical victories should be held lightly in the pursuit of innovation. 

It’s also vital to provide ongoing support and guidance to the team. This includes providing regular feedback on performance, setting clear goals and expectations, and providing a safe and comfortable environment in which to work. It is important to recognise and reward good performance, as this will help to motivate and retain talented employees. The generation gap calls leaders and managers to develop new skills around empathy and vulnerability that were never required before. A heightened sense of self and an awareness of others go a long way in providing support and guidance to an increasingly younger generation. 

The fifth step is accountability structures that set people up for success. Clarity about roles and responsibilities, incentives and growth paths help to clarify expectations and manage progression. 

Finally, the sixth step is to ensure that the team is kept up to date with the latest developments in the market. This means providing regular updates on industry trends and news, as well as access to the latest tools and technologies. This will ensure that the team remains competitive and can capitalise on opportunities as they arise.  

By following these steps, companies can ensure that their high-performing teams in emerging markets are well-managed and equipped to succeed. This will enable them to stay ahead of the competition and maximise their potential for success. 

Musa Kalenga is group CEO of The Brave Group, Founder of Bridge Labs and Author of ‘Ladders and Trampolines’

[This article 1st was published in Financial Mail]

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