Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Are you building a brick wall or a cathedral?

There is a story set in medieval times that tells of a traveler who comes upon three stonemasons. He asks each in turn: "What are you doing?" The first answers, without hesitation, "I am cutting this stone." The second, who appears to be doing the identical job says; "I am building the wall." The third, again seems to be doing the same job slowly raises his eyes to the sky and says, "I am building a cathedral."

Who are your cathedral builders?

Are you prepared for the grand migration of creative and marketing talent? It is upon us. As the effects of the recession linger, people on both sides of the employment equation continue to be haunted by the uncertainty of long-term employment. Many valuable marketing professionals - your cathedral builders - were sent adrift in 2008 and 2009.

There are a number of top marketing and creative professionals who have either chosen to go it alone, or have been pushed out on their own - and they are prospering as a result. The recession has required that companies and professionals think outside the box, take risks and try new alternatives. We are in a very entrepreneurial stage, and we should embrace it.

As companies start to gain momentum, the valuable employees who have been retained - your cathedral builders - may now start to look for new opportunities and new challenges. We shouldn't be surprised. Even at the height of the recession, talentmanagement.com was reporting on the importance - and scarcity - of high-value employees. According to a January 2009 article by Alex Dodd, "Human capital is the asset that drives organizational success, and the battle for this finite resource is becoming more and more intense. 20% of established U.S. companies will lose upwards of 40% of their top talent over the next four to five years."

A trend toward a more flexible business model?

In his article, Dodd concludes that forward-thinking companies will implement a flexible approach to managing their workforce. Bringing in specialized expertise and extra hands as needed may become the preferred model, while companies that rely on old, inflexible hiring models will be "pummeled."

There are plenty of benefits to a flexible workforce approach. Companies throughout the Twin Cities and Texas have discovered partners like Creatis to help them manage their creative and marketing initiatives through the peaks and valleys of their business, without hiring and without overspending with external agencies. Some of these benefits include:

Cost savings associated with a flexible model to respond to marketing resource demands - an efficient way to manage through the ups and downs of this economy

Cross-pollination of ideas with experts from other industries and corporate cultures - consider alternative and creative solutions for your initiatives

Retaining talent - your cathedral builders - they are the drivers of your organization's future success and should be allowed to focus on strategy rather than tactics

Support your top performers - your cathedral builders

We have quickly moved past the first decade of the twenty-first century, and it is clear that creative and marketing departments are being redefined, due in part to the 2008-2009 recession. We are leaving behind the remnants of twentieth century business practices and entering a new period in which flexibility and innovation are rewarded. We are not only cutting the stone and building the wall, we are building cathedrals. Creative and marketing departments are now challenged with doing more with limited resources while retaining and supporting their top employees.

We need to take time to support these top employees - help them find the right balance and challenge them with new opportunities. Recognize them for their contributions. And as you move forward in managing your business, remember that companies that consider new alternatives will create a competitive advantage for themselves and their employees. Be entrepreneurial, consider the alternatives, and build your own cathedral.

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