When it comes to online marketing, there are two high level career options when you’re first starting out: Affiliate marketing (start your own business) and the corporate route. I’m a huge fan of both, but prefer the corporate route. Today, I’d really like to highlight one of the main advantages of the corporate route: The ability to manage people early in your career. If you’re on a rocket ship career trajectory like myself, you can expect to start managing a team just a few years out of college (although it does take a little longer these days than when I started in 2004). When it comes to growing quickly, it’s all about leverage. Your team gives you that leverage. However, managing a team is definitely not easy, it’s one of the greatest (and most rewarding) challenges out there!
Today, I’ll be answering some questions one of my readers sent in recently, someone who’s new to people management and is managing his first employee. I hope this post highlight one of the big advantages of the corporate SEM route while providing some tactical people management tips.
Pace of Learning?
This question really depends on the level of employee you are hiring. However, for the purpose of this post, I’m going to assume the person being managed is an SEM Associate (where I started when I graduated Stanford). It’s actually difficult for me to answer this question because times have changed. When I started my search marketing career back in 2004, SEM was a very new discipline. Due to the lack of SEM tools, documentation, helpful blogs, and overall industry knowledge, the training curve was much longer. Back in those days, you could basically assume that it would take three months to train a new employee before they could start adding value.
However, with all the advances in our industry over the years, the training curve has diminished tremendously. These days, I expect new employees to start adding value within two weeks. It’s important for managers in our industry to remember how far things have advanced and that it’s possible to learn much faster in our current environment.
In terms of overall pace, I like to inundate new employees with a lot of projects immediately. There’s really no better way to learn than to be thrown into the fire, so to speak. That said, I always stress quality over quantity. It’s important to hire A Players and an A Player will quickly get bored without a backlog challenging projects.
Online Marketing People Management Resources?
This is an awesome question and is very core to my motivation behind PPC Ian. There are many great books out there about people management. Two of my favorites are Winning by Jack Welch and High Output Management by Andy Grove. However, you’ll quickly discover that SEM is very different than other disciplines and requires its own unique management principles. Why? It’s a rapid growth career unlike any other. You typically have young managers managing even younger teams managing millions of dollars in spend. It’s because of this dynamic that I created PPC Ian with the goal of educating and empowering pay per click professionals. Stay tuned and also check out my Management category for Internet marketing people management tips.
How To Keep Them Busy For The Day?
This really ties back to the first question. If you hire A Players they must have a backlog of high value projects or else they will get bored, really quickly! You need to challenge A Players. How do you do this? Well, first things first: You’ll want to spend a lot of time with new employees. Typically, your own productivity will go down in their first few weeks. You’ll be spending a large portion of your day training them! Don’t worry, the long term leverage you will get far outweighs the negative leverage in the short run.
Second, you’ll want to classify projects into two groups: Recurring tasks and strategic projects. An example of a recurring task is sending out daily or weekly reports to the team. An example of a strategic project is launching a new campaign on Google AdWords. You can quickly fill up the schedules of your new employees by assigning recurring tasks. This is stuff you need done but is well defined and recurring (meaning it takes up a lot of time on a consistent basis). Over time, as your employees become more seasoned and independent, you’ll want to assign them more strategic projects.
What Tasks To Gradually Load On Them?
This really ties into the last question, great timing… In a new employee’s fist few weeks, they’ll work mainly on recurring tasks. Over time, they’ll do those recurring tasks in a fraction of the time it used to take them. This will free up tons of time to continue taking on more recurring tasks and also strategic projects. Just remember, we’re dealing with millions of dollars. There’s a lot at stake. Upon completion of their first strategic projects, you’ll want to review their work thoroughly. It’s only after trust and a great track record is established that I would recommend allowing new employees to make changes to production SEM accounts. The timing on this can vary, but I typically don’t let new employees make changes to production SEM accounts (directly) until they’ve been at the company over a month (and sometimes more).
What Should I Expect?
It’s of paramount importance to expect the world. I only hire A Players and expect a lot. By expecting a lot and pushing your employees to the max, they will grow quickly, add amazing value, and drive results. In turn, this makes you a success as a manager. The whole organization grows and everyone gets promoted! Just remember, everyone needs a break at some point so use your judgment. Moreover, we’re all human and we’re all different. Why is management difficult? No two people are the same. You’ll need to change your management style for each and every person you manage. It gets easier over time (once you’ve managed 10-20 different employees), but it takes time. Just remember to trust your instincts and that the relationship you establish with your employees is everything. To your employees, you are the company to them!
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