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The Seventh Sin of Agency Owners – Relying on People as Process

Do you think there’s a superstar out there who can change your agency’s future? They might be out there somewhere. But relying on that person is my seventh sin of agency owners.

A great team will help you to scale your agency.

The problem comes if you’re relying on great people in place of great processes. You end up relying on superstars to carry the load when your processes should do the hard work for them.

The reality is that if you spend all of your time looking for Mick Jagger, you’re not spending enough time on creating processes.

And that’s a big sin.

The Symptoms

How do you know if you’re relying on people as process?

The first symptom is that you think just finding one superstar will help you to fix the agency. If you just had one awesome person it would change the agency’s trajectory.

The reality is that this person might exist. But they’re probably out of your price range or they’re doing their own thing.

The second symptom is that you don’t get people to document their job. In fact, you worry that this would offend them and give them the impression that they’re working themselves out of the job.

But the reality is that you’re doing it because you see value in them and the process they’ve helped to create. Once they can work their way out of a job, they’re more valuable in another part of your agency.

Finally, there’s hiring people for jobs that you don’t want to do. For example, you hire a salesperson because you hate sales.

That hate means you’ve never focused on establishing a process. As a result, you’re relying on the new salesperson to be the process.

The Problem

What happens if a better opportunity comes along for the person you’re relying on?

You’ve made your process reliant on them. If they go, the process goes with them. Even if you’re just moving them to another sector of the business, you’re still going to run into that problem.

You’ll need to find somebody of a similar calibre to replace them. Then, you start the cycle all over again.

You’ll also run into a problem if you have someone who doesn’t fit your culture. Relying on them for process means you have to tolerate their toxicity.

And that makes everyone else unhappy.

The Root Cause

Often, this problem arises because you don’t have the important conversations.

A great example comes from one of my clients. Steven had a head of client services who didn’t like to get on the phone and have difficult conversations with clients.

Instead, he’d over-service them without telling anyone.

The agency’s churn rate shot up to 60% and Steven couldn’t figure out why.

It’s because he relied on the head of client services to be the process.

Once he sat down and had a conversation with the team member, he could see where the issue lies. That was the first step for creating processes for the entire agency, rather than relying on one person.

So, talk to your people. Document your processes with them and make sure they’re followed.

Don’t rely on somebody else to be the process for a sector of your agency.

Dev “Process King” Basu