Talk can be cheap

‘…I respect those who apply for a job and state on their resume that they were part of a team that worked on a brand to increase the market share or win awards. Avoid over-selling yourself because your employer’s expectations will be high, and you better be that good… Talk is cheap and many people are very good at it but walking your talk is what does the magic’

I HAVE had the opportunity to read through hundreds of resumes/CVs and interview people. Most of the time the resumes are a dream come true. I swear, when I go through some resumes especially when we desperately need to fill space/position in my department, I say to myself “this is God sent!”

As I read more, facilitated the employment of more people due to their impressive resumes and interview, and worked with these people, I came to realize it is mostly not as anticipated. 75% of the time the people with the greatest resume and the “I created the award-winning design, or I grew the brands market share from 2% to 10% in one year”, explanation during an interview are usually empty.

My experience at the agency clearly made me understand that every individual achievement is teamwork all the way. Most times, the great Idea start as an “I think we can do it or say it this way” from one of the team members then it starts taking different shape as people talk about it, finetune it and make corrections to it based on each person’s insight, exposure, or experience about the idea.

At a point in my career at Ogilvy, we employed a digital lead who claimed both on her resume and at the interview that most of the successful campaigns achieved by the agency she was leaving were driven by her. When asked why she wanted to leave the agency if she has been that successful, she said she wanted to work in a bigger agency to grow herself. Fair enough.

She was selected from the over forty-five applications received not because her resume and composure during the interview got me, but more of the fact that she seemed the most senior and experienced applicant. She talks well and boldly, so everyone preferred her.

The lady resumed right about the time we just got the Mondelez account and was going through the onboarding process, so we automatically put her in. It didn’t take two weeks for me to start realizing that choosing her was a big mistake.

As a digital lead, she had four social media managers on her team. Each SM manager had at least two brands they were managing, and they report to her on everything. Only that because she is new and all the team in client service and digital worked with and reported to me, she also does indirectly. Fiona was the MD with two decades of experience in digital marketing, but she had a lot on her plate, so I mostly had to deal with the team and escalate to her when there is a need.

For every brand we worked on at Ogilvy, the first thing we do is create a social media operating guideline for the brand. Because every brand is different just like no individual is the same, we go through an excruciating strategy process backed with insights and strongly focusing on the brand’s objectives, missions, and goals to determine the digital objectives, missions, and goals. This will then help us understand the tone of voice, brand personality, and brand conversation. That is the start of the life of the brand on digital.

The first trait I noticed was that whenever her team put together a calendar or deck for a client and send it to her, she doesn’t take her time to go through it. She just scans through it and approves. She wasn’t checking the design to be sure it aligned with both the social media and brand guidelines. Twice in a week, decks went to Mondalez on Tom Tom and the feedback was bad.  

At first, I felt she was just getting to know how we work, and we should give her time to blend into the system and culture so, I and Fiona agreed that I should keep an eye on that team until we are good. This means I would be copied on all emails, and nothing goes to the client without my approval.

Because she was the direct link with the client, there was so much inconsistency between what she said and what the client says, and it got to a point that the client started calling me directly. Sometimes she sent emails to the client without putting any member of the team on copy and in most cases, she forgets to brief in or follow up with the client’s request until there are reactions from that end.

We got a last-minute request from the client on social media week. They decided to be part of it just a week before the event starts and would like us to come up with ideas they could run with. So, the team got to work, and we suggested three ideas and the client chose one. There was going to be a karaoke booth at the Tom Tom stand. All we had to do was create the template and content outline to drive the brand’s conversation on social media for the three days.

It was almost a disaster. Several times we discuss and agree on the content but when she works on it with her team and shares it with me, it is the exact thing we were going to ditch. When I asked why she sent me the same wrong deck, her excuse was that that was what the SM manager sent to her. “Did you check it before sending it to me?” NO! I always explained to her that her job is to ensure that her team does the right thing. If she doesn’t check it, then how would she know.

It went on for months and one day I almost lost my mind. After leaving the office the previous day at 1 am because her team was going to miss an important deadline only to realize when doing the last check on the slides that she forgot to add an important slide to the deck. The slide was done on her laptop when mine went off and I instructed that she adds it to the main deck when she got to the office the next day before giving it to me.

I was so furious that I had to leave the office to avoid overreacting and saying the wrong thing. I took a long walk with Soji from our office at Sanusi Fafunwa toward Landmark in the blazing sun without even feeling it. I remember one of the senior creative team leads called to check on me and even told me when I got back in the office that I shouldn’t give up because we can’t afford to lose that account. Although after the lady resigned, I realized the guy was a snitch and toxic.

The bomb for the lady was when Fiona asked her to develop a timeline deck for the cocoa beverage brand of the same client based on all the deliverables and deadlines while I was on leave. After almost two weeks of corrections and explanations, and the deadline was a day to go, Fiona had to do the work herself during our agency retreat. Fiona couldn’t deal with the obvious incompetence anymore and she told the lady that much.

My boss is a lovely, hardworking, and fantastic woman to work with, but when she loses her mind, you better run!!!

The lady resigned. Her appraisals were approaching, and she chose to opt-out before her probation duration was complete. She didn’t spend six months in the agency. Just like others who left because I wasn’t going to deal with their ineptitude while they earn and I break my back sorting out their mess, she told everyone that cared to listen that I was her major problem.

Like I always told everyone in the agency when we have a job to deliver and someone is lacking, “it is not personal, let’s just get the job done”. I will work into the agency the following day as if nothing ever happened and we get to do our thing again.

Now I respect those who apply for a job and state on their resume that they were part of a team that worked on a brand to increase the market share or win awards. Avoid over-selling yourself because your employer’s expectations will be high, and you better be that good.

Talk is cheap and many people are very good at it but walking your talk is what does the magic.

*Olateju Ogunyomi is a Marcoms professional and behavioral analyst. She left Ogilvy Nigeria in 2020 to start her own agency. She is an APCON member and was a member of the AAAN women in Advertising committee, and the AAAN Event committee. She is currently the CEO of Aspora Nigeria Limited, a Digital Marketing, Strategy, and Consultancy agency.

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