The below is probably the simplest piece of advice you can possible be given or give as an account handler to your team.
It’s not a model. It’s not from a management book. Or gleaned from a blog, presenatation or seminar. It’s just a simple piece of life advice that has served me well whenever things start to heat up. All account handlers generally need to accept that they are expected to be buttoned down and organised. Things will go wrong, and when anything goes wrong, it is your fault, even if it isn’t. Because everything is. But this isn’t the advice but more the basic principle that you’ll need to be accountable for the good of the team.
Peter Mead (the former agency leader of Abbott Mead Vickers/BBDO) used to be asked what made him a great CEO. ‘I’m a great account manager’ was his reply. What could he mean? I suspect it’s that something all great account handlers have – a natural curiosity about the world around them & an entreprenuerial drive to make things happen.
But in order to make things happen you need to be a step ahead – to be ‘on the ball’ so to speak. So here are the 3 simplest words you’ll ever here about account handling. But 3 very helpful ones.
Get in early.
Now, this isn’t to avoid jibes such as ‘half man/half day’ or ‘thanks for popping in’. No. It’s much more important than that. It means that you can get on top of the detail, get it organized – maybe even get it done – so that you can focus on what’s important.
The phone rings less, you feel fresh, the hustle/bustle begins to fill up around you, timesheets are taken care of, timing plans can be written in relative peace etc etc. Be on your second cup of coffee when others are brewing their first.
You’ll have control over the admin & can better support the team as they spin gloriously out of control into new creative territory.
Missing out on a creative briefing or not having time to mediate an important conflict just because you have questions to answer on a billing spreadsheet is frankly not good enough. Sweat the small stuff & make time for it. Update the status, fix the contact report, book those team meetings. But get in early to make this so.
This way you can focus on creating your own personal RDF & get on with impressing people.
If you really have nothing else to do then download an audiobook. Read some blogs. Look out the window & take in the world around you. Whatever.
But get in the habit of starting your day before anyone else. Because the team need someone they can rely on.