The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The Continuous Quest For Cash …
May 6, 2009, 6:14 am
Filed under: Comment

I know times are tough. I know money is needed – not just to make profits, but to survive.

However there’s an interesting byproduct of all this penny-chasing/penny-pinching, and that is destruction of corpoate culture … or should I say, the corporate culture that talks about how important it is to be a ‘team player’.

To be honest, I’ve always had doubts whether companies really mean it when they say that sort of thing, mainly because I’ve seen too many examples where the opposite is true … however we all know the ability to work together, even if its interms of fulfilling the whims of a superior, is important both interms of effectiveness and just general office culture harmony.

But ever since the economy has decided to do a good impression of Lyndsey Lohan’s career, I’ve noticed that many organisations aren’t even pretending to practice what they preach to all their staff.

Recently I was sent an email from someone within M&C [Sunshine’s “legal guardians”] about a book they’ve launched.

“Cool” I thought … “I’d really like to read that” … so clicked on the link expecting to be taken to a place where I could download the .pdf.

But no.

Instead I got directed to a website where I could BUY THE BOOK!

Hahahahahaha … what next, charging staff for internal training?

Actually I shouldn’t laugh at that because a previous agency I had a very brief dalliance with tried to pull that very stunt on me and to be fair to M&C, they take their responsibility about people’s development pretty seriously, however this sends out totally the wrong message and I am sure it’ll be rectified shortly. Either that or I’m going to be living in a bus shelter within the week.

Talking of training …

I recently got asked whether I’d like to ‘train’ the global planners of another agency – a multinational agency – how to ‘think in ideas’.

Naturally I found it abit weird that …

1/ They would ask someone from a competitive company to do this
2/ They would need training in something they’re supposed to do anyway
3/ They would need training in something their organisation claims to be brilliant at

… however the lure of top travel on someone elses dime [something I am quite the afficiando at] and being able to get into the ‘Death Star’ was too good to ignore so I happily said yes.

How sad that this company – someone who goes on and on about how their staff are their greatest asset – have now decided that spending any money on training is expensive and postponed the whole thing till “later this year”.

Yes, I know … you’re thinking that’s their excuse to basically get me out the picture … but I have ‘insiders’ in the company and they’ve told me the whole thing has been rainchecked, not just me.

Then there’s the company who is running a global pitch.

They’re selling the fact they’re a global network who work seamlessly and collaberatively with all their local offices and yet I know for a fact each ‘outpost’ has submitted an ‘estimate’ to HQ as to how much their ‘time/involvement’ will cost.

Nice. Very collaberative.

To be honest, I can’t really blame them given seemingly every corporation is telling their local offices to ‘break even or die’ … so whilst it looks very “robbing Peter, to pay Paul”, if you’re the “Paul” it matters a whole bloody lot.

Whilst I appreciate the enourmity of the current economic environment … and that some of the things companies did in good times could now be viewed as ‘indulgences’ … I don’t think ‘training’ or even ‘inspiring’ staff should be seen as one of those – infact, these are the very times where uniting and encouraging staff can make an even bigger difference – both to their morale and the companies success – because as much as every ship needs a captain to steer, it’s the engine room that makes it actually happen.

16 Comments so far
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Good to note that you didn’t think it a bit weird that they asked you.

Comment by John

And yes, good training is even more important in a difficult economy because if you screw up there are fewer opportunities to fall back on and fewer opportunities in which to make a difference.

Comment by John

rob campbell. an equal opportunity fucker offerer

Comment by andy@cynic

campbell finds it weird if someone asks him if he wants a cup of fucking coffee. nice to know that underneath it all he knows he doesnt deserve a fucking thing hes got

Comment by andy@cynic

I could add to this list Rob! I recently asked if I could do a course in presenting and was told there’d been a freeze on training programs but they were looking at some internal PPT preso training system which might be of use to me. Taught to present powerpoint by a powerpoint. FAIL 🙁

Comment by Age

I don’t know if it’s just years of reading Andy’s comments with one eyebrow raised but that one just made me laugh a lot. Timing? Envy? Who knows but don’t let it happen again. 😉

Comment by Charles

I think Age should lead a revolution if his company believes powerpoint training will equip their staff to better handle their clients economic issues. I guess Age should be grateful the cost is not being taken from his salary.

How laughable so many agencies present themselves as experts on commercial matters when their black box solution tend to be spend more money on advertising.

By the way Robert, I read your piece about crisis management in MM. It was excellent, we’ve taught you well. LOL.

Comment by Lee Hill

I’m thinking of charging colleagues for cups of tea expertly warmed in the pot.
I’m only surprised that I’m still surprised how agencies treat their people. And they wonder why they’re always moaning that they can’t find good people.
You would think that the global firepower of big networks would protect you more from economic shocks, but the bigger the network, the more expendable its people seem to become.

Comment by northern

Is Lee suggesting that his company is prone to crises? That wasn’t the impression I had. Must be down to his underlings.

Comment by John

Jesus, a blog post where we’re still on topic despite a whole day passing – what on earth is going on? I was convinced that by the time I logged on we’d be on issues like Bourbons VS Custard Creams … though that’s not even a contest is it, Bourbons win hands down.

For the sake of Lee and Virgin’s rep … I think I should point out that his comment [thanks for he compliment by the way Lee, I must admit when I read it, even I was shocked how sensible I sounded, they must of caught me at a loose end, ha] was not because Virgin have encountered a myriad of dramas that I have helped them overcome [that’s George’s job anyway, ha!] but because they “educated” me on the beliefs, policies and approaches they adopt when these very rare occurances happen.

And given they could come out of a bucket of shit smelling of roses, I think they are probably better positioned to talk about how to handle ‘tough times’ than adland – ESPECIALLY when they believe Powerpoint can solve everything.

What next, the UN changes its name to .ppt?

Comment by Rob

Age, considering one of your clients is a MAJOR UNIVERSITY, the concept that you may be getting vocational training from a glorified manual oozes more irony than juan and fallon could cope with right now.

why train your staff when you can just outsource the job from some cheap foreign labour in 6 months’ time? agencies are leading by example, clearly 🙂

Comment by lauren

so have the brothers called and bollocked you yet?

as stan said to laurel, another fucking fine mess youve got yourself into but thats why i love you, because you dont give a fuck if you piss people off if you think theyve done something wrong.

rich in values but poor in cash.

pity rich in cash is better. lol.

Comment by andy@cynic

i m completely lost in all the different interweaved threads going on here. anyway… i like your note about corporations talking “about how important it is to be a ‘team player’”.

some of the big corporations i had the joy to watch, were not giving much about their employees being team players. for some it seems to be enough if people only sell themselves as one during application procedures. it has so much to do with the culture inside the corporation. you can be lucky. or not. i think the bigger and hierarchical the company, the bigger are the chances that the ones who are in charge (on any level) care less about the ants possibly fighting on the ground…

and all the politics. it can make you think that crawling to the bigwigs and bullying the underlings is a good thing to do. especially if the company’s culture is only defined by the (quarterly) growth forecasts. talk about pressure. but then that s the way it always went for some. don t think that s a good thing for business success though. especially in the current climate…

alright, i stop being slightly negative haha. something positive? i second john’s second comment. respect 🙂

Comment by peggy

Cutting back on training is always risky, surely that has the same drawbacks that we argue for brands to not cut their ad budgets in a recession

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I found it always a bit weird that a lot of advertising related seminars with the label “inspiration” have mostly speakers from ad agencies. Sure it’s interesting so see where others get there inspiration from but wouldn’t it be more interesting to have designers, architects, musicians or creatives of others kinds on stage talking about creativity?
Anyway, off to lunch. It might inspire my belly.

Comment by Seb

Funny you say that Mr M … guess which network wanted me to talk to them and then pulled out to save ‘cash’?

Yep … the one that says spending money is the best way for brands to get out of a recession and then does all it can to not spend a brass farthing!

And Seb, I wrote my “You’re Back!” message on another post. Just don’t want you thinking I wasn’t over-the-moon to have you back. 🙂

Comment by Rob

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