The account manager's guide to managing people

Posted on: 2012-10-02 in How To   |   Tagged: account management how to manage difficult people how to manage people how to manage people effectively managing creative people managing people pr account manager

This post is an excerpt from the PR Account Manager's Handbook. Click here to download the entire series as an ebook.  By @TopLineFounder.

As an AM, the buck stops with you. That means that when it comes to people management, you are responsible for making sure your team members deliver what they are supposed to deliver. And if they don’t, I’m afraid to say that you are to blame.

It is never acceptable to tell a client that something hasn’t been done because your AE didn’t do it. As the AM, even once you have delegated a piece of work, it is your responsibility to set yourself a reminder to follow up ahead of the deadline and check that it has been done to standard (or is on its way).

If it hasn’t, you have every right to be annoyed, but that’s beside the point! Right now, you need to focus on implementing Plan B to get that work done. It’s the cross you have to bear: any spelling error in a release that goes out, any unprofessional email (e.g. account director asking the client something they have already told you), and any instance in which your team is poorly informed (or uninformed) about something happening on the account is your fault. Don’t rely on your team to read something because you said they must. Make sure they do it, because good client service is more important than pestering a team member.

So the question soon becomes, how do you get the most out of your team? Below I have compiled my tips for managing people, gleaned from experience.

  1. Ask don’t tell: if your team members wanted to be ordered around they would have joined the army or gone into the dominatrix support industry. But they didn’t. They came to work in an office job, where they probably hoped to be treated like humans.
  2. Forget the hierarchy: your AEs and AAs know that you are in charge. You don’t need to remind them. Refer to team members as ‘colleagues’ when talking about them to clients or suppliers.
  3. Set the example: it is so much easier to persuade someone to do something for you if they respect you. Earn this respect by practicing what you preach.
  4. Praise publicly, reprimand privately: people like to be praised and thanked, and they don’t like to be told off. So keep any difficult conversations to email or private meetings.
  5. Take the fall: when a team member screws up, show solidarity by taking the blame as a team and then sorting it out amongst yourselves afterwards.
  6. Share the glory (even better, give it away): you might have been instrumental in the success of that campaign, but as far as the rest of the world knows, you couldn’t have done it without your fabulous team.
  7. Get feedback: take team members for a coffee every now and then and ask how they think the team is doing and how you’re getting on as a manager.
  8. Ask for help: there’s no reason you should have to learn how to manage people with no support. Get advice from other managers (both within and outside the organisation) and from your company’s HR department (if you have one).
  9. Ask for suggestions: before you tell someone how to do a task, ask them to suggest how they think it should be approached. Your way isn’t the only way and by inviting contribution from others in the team will help you learn about their skillsets and might provide a (dare I say it?) better way of doing things.
  10. Keep it to yourself: no matter how annoying/rude/incompetent a team member has been today, never ever bitch about them to another team member. Managng difficult people can be difficult, but keep it professional, keep your team solid, and take any major issues confidentially to your own manager.

Hungry for more? Download the Account Manager's Handbook in its entirety by clicking here.

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About this blog

The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog was founded by B2B PR specialist Heather Baker, who runs video production and corporate animation agency TopLine Film and digital PR and SEO agency  TopLine Comms. The B2B PR Blog takes contributions from sensible industry folk with something interesting to say.


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