Creative Manager – Part two

Itʼs always helpful to know what the boss is thinking – whether you are trying to advance within a company, or to get hired. I spoke recently to Aaron Harvey, Partner/COO of digital agency Purple, Rock, Scissors of FL and NY. Asked how he recruits creatives, Harvey told me that he doesnʼt advertise jobs – he posts them on the companyʼs website and they have some partnerships with select schools; but mostly the way they get new employees is by word of mouth. And he added: “We are all music fans here – when we are hiring we look at peoples iPod lists.”

When Harvey first came to Purple Rock Scissors, he told me: “We were a revolving door. There is a challenge when you bring in young people to a smaller company. They get to do a lot more and get much more experience than in a larger company, so they are likely to be wearing more hats more quickly. If they talk to their friends at bigger shops they start to think – ʻHey, I am underpaid for what I am doing here.ʼ A lot of this comes down to the culture,” he says. “There is a lot more that goes into the decision to stay with a firm than just money. The culture and the vision of the company are very important in the decisions made by creative employees.”

“The title thing is important to empower people: there s a level of achievement. We may want to give the best, most devoted developer a promotion – though he may not be able to stand up in front of a client or have the ability to sell his work. So we try to groom people as much as possible. We include them in more and more client meetings – first to watch and then gradually to participate until they can do it on their own.”

“The issue comes when the internal move isnʼt working and you bring someone new in. Then toes are stepped on. I may have promoted the designer to Creative Director, but they canʼt sell the work and canʼt manage a team. We learned to deal with this by being very specific in defining job specs, with the employeeʼs help, so they know they are not just evaluated on their design but also on selling, and management and other factors. There is a formal evaluation process: we have them do self-evaluations and then see how they stacked up – and on how they manage their time sheets.”

Click here to see more of Aaron Harvey’s insights

This article by Michael Pollock first appeared in Cynopsis Digital Advantage.