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A Culture of Training is Key to Growth

By Dave Rosowsky, COO at Joystick Interactive

And the Future of Digital Advertising Depends on it

Last month, in a well-read article, WPP took the bold step of proactively discussing the reasons behind the slowdown of global ad-buying. Industry insiders were quick to jump on the story, sharing their opinions across social channels.

One such industry insider, Allison Kent-Smith, who runs the training firm Smith & Beta shared something that caught my eye.

Here is a link to the full post, but in short (or to paraphrase her poorly)

As an industry, we’re not developing talent fast enough, or smart enough, to match the needs of the digital age.

And I couldn’t agree with her more.

While every industry can benefit from training, it’s especially important in the digital advertising space. Producing cutting-edge, intelligent, artful communications requires diverse skillsets and deep technical knowledge. The industry is evolving at its most rapid pace since its inception, and it’s not going to slow down.

10 years ago, we were working with Flash and animated GIFs. 5 years ago, it was mobile and HTML5. Today it’s AI, AR and VR.

As digital has grown at a dizzying pace, the need for more and more qualified employees has also grown, as has the competition to hire these employees.

This goes beyond just the technical producers of our craft, too. All agency, publisher, and brand personnel need to study and understand the evolving opportunities in the field, from targeting, data collection and messaging. Breaking down silos. Increasing communication.

However, it’s easier said than done. The skills needed for an employee to be successful are largely not taught in our universities, and require carefully coordinated efforts from within the organization to train at scale. It requires mentoring, patience, empathy and time … things that are not always present in high-stress agency and brand environments.

At Joystick — we don’t have many rules. (You can’t if you’re going to stay agile to keep up with the constant innovations within the industry). We do, unequivocally, across all our teams believe this: hire the best, most talented people. Experts in their fields, who voraciously stay on point with the technologies they produce, and are nimble enough to adapt ahead of the curve. And continue to train them from their first day to their last day.

This culture of training is so important to our organizational success, and will be for the industry, too.

JD Peterson, Chief Growth Officer at Culture Amp, feels that training must be one of the core values of any organization looking to scale. “No matter the industry or size of company, learning and development is the one factor that comes up time and time again as a key driver of employee engagement, retention and productivity.”

So what are some approaches to building or improving a culture of training?

  • Mentor individually. Develop a personalized training roadmap for every employee during their first week of employment. This is a combination of what they want to learn and what they need to learn.
  • Build a “university”, give it a name, and make it part of every employee’s daily routine.
  • Throw training parties. We call ours Work Hard, Play Hard. Ours are weekend-long get-togethers, in a vacation-like setting, that are 50% training and 50% fun.
  • Support from the top. Not only should management encourage career development, they should be involved as well, as mentors and learning new things themselves.

Is your organization culturally ready to help make every employee amazing? If the answer is yes, that’s great, keep it up. If the answer is not-so-much, it’s easy to get started today utilizing your internal know-how, the fleet of SaaS tools that are available and by seeking outside help from training consultants.

But the real way to get started? Change your mindset.

If you have great ideas to build on the approaches above, please share in the comments section below!

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