Written by Julie S., Director, Client Services at Phenomblue LA
Even with the most detailed project plan, it’s not uncommon for project lifecycles to veer off course from time to time. At anytime, what starts as a “simple project” can spiral into a monstrous beast with endless revision cycles and an always-moving launch date. I shudder at repressed memories of this all too familiar situation shared amongst my fellow account managers, designers and developers alike. We’ve all been there – the endless nights, caffeine nearby and your loudest music mixtape to keep you going.
Side note: I remember working on my yoga breathing exercises to keep me calm during these hectic times of my early career.
Thankfully, after years of learned lessons and a few sun salutations later, I’m now riding a sweet spot that has helped elevate and cultivate my strengths – not only as an account manager, but as the director of client services at Phenomblue LA. It doesn’t hurt that a few of my professional philosophies parallel Phenomblue’s culture and two of our nine tenets: Be Respected > Being Liked and Reason Your Instinct, just to name a couple.
BE RESPECTED > BEING LIKED
I’m a people person. This obviously is essential as someone who works with clients. I like to banter and meet over lunch. My first reaction is to pick up the phone for a call, over writing an impersonal e-mail. And I definitely want my clients and colleagues to like me.
However, as this not-so-obvious tenet points out, likeability does not directly correlate to how well I perform my job or how well I serve clients. Not everyone will like my personality or my decisions. But if the decisions I make are consistently for the good of the project and client, and the guidance I provide is constructive, then at least I will be respected. Clients may not like me after I tell them that we can’t speed up a process in order to launch a few days earlier than planned or that an idea may not be the best ultimate solution. But, these clients will respect that I work for the good of the quality of the work and for their brand.
Strive for earning respect, and you’ll go farther, better. And they will like you in the end.
REASON YOUR INSTINCT
You know that “gut” feeling? That indescribable, spur of the moment, split-second “I-don’t-know-why-I-know-this-but-I-do” reaction you can get? That can be a strength, and one that we should both trust, improve and defend over time as we work with others.
As an agency, Phenomblue’s clients come to us looking for strategic solutions to their business needs. They view us as experts and craftsmen, and we should be proud of and able to provide sound reasoning for our choices.
It’s really easy to be an “order-taker” and do as the client requests. As an account manager, it’s also very easy not to say “no” to a client, but our services and professional commitment require much more out of us.
I need to act as a client’s fortuneteller and figure out what is needed before anyone else does. I need to be a personal shopper, telling clients what fits them and what doesn’t.
I need to be all these things, and more, all while being firm in my decisions. Without this ability, I would slowly and surely lose my grip on managing people and projects.
Including these two key points within our company tenets serves as a daily reminder of how to achieve success with projects, clients and the internal team. It puts our team on the same page, all starting with shared, empowering goals. It also helps alleviate any changes in direction that could cause problems.
We can all work towards smooth accounts and projects without overextending ourselves. It just takes a little gusto, a bit of self-confidence and the resolution to fight for your clients. Oh, and maybe a downward dog every now and then, too. Let’s all hold hands and exhale together now.