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Friday, 18 October 2013

Account handlers are the real agency hereos

Account handling is an unusual profession in that it requires a wide variety of skills to be good at it. You have to be part marketing strategist, business consultant, diplomat, book keeper, translator, creative, project manager, coach, technician, sales person, mediator and sociologist.

With some many skills required to be a great account handler it's no wonder that it takes time to master our craft. It's also no surprise that everyone in our profession has dropped the ball on more than one occasion.

On the face of it account handlers are on a hiding to nothing with nowhere to hide when the shit hits the fan. It's a precarious position to be in and I have seen numerous account handlers, both junior and senior, break down due to the pressures of the job – without the added complication of life outside of work.

Recognising that account handling is a difficult job, mistakes are inevitable, and that account handlers need regular support and guidance, is for me one of the most important requirements of good agency management.

Managers need to be able to empathise with the situation a member of their team finds him or herself in. They need to be on hand when problems arise, be willing to support them through to resolution with their sanity intact, whilst at the same time giving them the scope, freedom and opportunity to develop their skills and experience.

Unfortunately I consistently hear from prospective employees that the reason for moving job is lack of personal development and support from management. The excuse quoted by most managers is that they can't dedicate enough time to people management - most of their day is spent selling, developing client relationships, managing the money and supporting the overall running of the agency. 

In my opinion, we're making a big mistake by not supporting our client services people and not recognising that managing people should be a priority not an after-thought. It's time we acknowledged that account handling is a difficult, stressful and vital job that has a direct and immediate impact on the success of the business.

Creatives and planners get all the glory and win all the awards but in my opinion account handlers are the unsung heroes. Their contribution to both agency and client should be more widely recognised and appreciated in our industry.