2017: A Year for Complacency or Progress?

“People will only pay you for what you can do with what you know.” - Thomas Friedman

The workplace – our skillsets and capabilities – is shifting. Many aspects of our past work life are now basically obsolete. Remember marketing prior to social media? In the not so distant past Facebook did not exist. To keep up with changes in our profession, we must invest in continual education for our employees and leaders. We must continue to evolve. Without continual learning, we’re adrift in this sea of change that is often overwhelming and difficult to navigate.  

Our industry has evolved over a short period of time. But what about our skills? Changing products, expectations and technologies necessitate new and improved capabilities. While beautiful ads and persuasive campaigns continue to be produced, many formerly great agencies are struggling. Their products and skillsets, which were previously heralded as cutting edge, may not even be considered adequate anymore.

Our recent assessment of agency talent revealed alarming skill shortcomings. Many marketing respondents believe their expertise in mobile strategy (55%), production (50%), social media fluency (44%) and content strategy (34%) to be novice or lower. Moreover, almost half (43%) of agency employees do not feel prepared for the future of their work.

Going forward, marketing and advertising agencies need to address their talent readiness shortcomings. Advertisers must know their talent up, down and all around. Progress is nearly impossible if organizations do not truthfully evaluate the skills of their employees. Employers should be giving their employees skill assessments to identify strengths, weaknesses and places for improvement - and then they must act on these realizations. Too many organizations ignore pertinent talent insights, choosing to disregard crucial information instead of act upon it.

So here are five steps you can take in 2017:

  1. Know your talent - take an assessment of all employees’ capabilities
  2. Design a few learning experiences that addresses the gap of what employees know and what they should know
  3. Bring actual everyday work into the classroom - ensure that learning is not separate from work “back at the desk”
  4. Measure the impact of learning on an actual project or pitch
  5. Balance content with hard skills, mindsets and inspirational topics that expand thinking, experimentation and ways of working

2017 is nearly here. So, let’s get started.

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