People & Inspiration

Executips: Do You Have an "Inspired Relationship" at Work?

Executips: Do You Have an

In another conversation with my HR account person, I suddenly had a realization: I was no longer as fired up as when I was on my first year in the company (I hope my boss doesn’t read this.).

Today, I’m still more enthusiastic than most people I know (I hope my boss reads this.). But my eagerness doesn’t compare to that in my “newcomer days” when I would work up to 2AM every day, cooking up ideas, writing memos, and thinking of things I could change.

We both observed that the benefit of hiring an outsider, or promoting someone to a new position, is that you get a surge of intellectual energy for the job.

I remember my ad agency days when clients would open their business for a pitch. They complained that their incumbent agencies were no longer as brilliant, as pro-active, and as sweet as when they first teamed up. In contrast, every new agency will be brimming over with ideas, will be bending over backwards and will be like a man wooing the woman of his dreams. In many cases, it looked like the ad agencies would want to take over the clients’ business.

Noting that interest often follows a downward path, one of the top executives in our global network urged us to maintain an “inspired relationship” with our clients. In such a relationship, both parties will be constantly and passionately thinking of good things for the brand. The ad agency will not just wait for job orders, the client will treat the agency like a true partner and not a supplier.

He said that our goal should be to have a roster of  “perpetually infatuated clients.“

Presently, I am the head of a division which functions as the in-house ad agency of our company. The threat of losing “our account” to an outsider is very low. But I remind my staff to never have a false sense of security. We must serve our clients as though we could lose them any day.

A false sense of security is one of the main reasons behind complacency on the job.

Some of us may think that we have a lifetime claim to our position just because we have already won awards or have scored high in past evaluation periods. Some of us may think we cannot be fired because we are protected by labor laws. Some of us may believe that burnout is normal and is, therefore, tolerated.

Many of us may not even be aware that we are no longer as good or as fervent as we were before.

So, I wish to remind my readers that management is always on the look out for people who can deliver the same or even better output, at a much lower employee cost. Remember that there is always somebody out there eager to prove that they can do a better job than you.

Just to check how we are doing today, let's compare our performance now with how it was during our first year on the job. I hope we don’t realize that where once we wanted to astonish, now we’re satisfied with being able to accomplish.

In another ad agency I worked with, the global office sent this reminder to all:

“We do our job with the enthusiasm of the first day at work. By not relying on past glories, we continue to build new milestones."



Executips is a career advice column by Robert Labayen. He was a former Managing Partner and Executive Creative Director in an advertising company. He eventually moved to the country's largest media network where his job involves inspiring people to be their best. He's also a writer, painter, and songwriter.


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