Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Show me the Money

My wife sells ad space for the Harvard Business Review. It's not easy. She has to compete with other sales reps selling space for much glossier titles like People, Us, or any number of magazines you're likely to find poolside at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas.

HBR is thick. It's wordy. And has its own distinctive anesthetic effect.

Though it's readily available around the house, I rarely find myself reaching for the latest edition prior to a bathroom retreat for "an exit interview with Mr. Brown."

But recently HBR published a column by Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Professor of Business Psychology, Seven Rules for Managing Creative-But-Difficult People.

I can see most of you have already pre-identified yourself with the subject of Dr. TCP's article and are eager to hear what he has to say. I'll spare you all the psycho-babble and jump straight to his fifth, and most disturbing, point:

I have no idea why he initially wrote Pay them poorly and then changed it to Don't overpay them. But none of that matters. Either way, the good doctor is wrong.


He contends that external rewards diminish engagement and that the more you pay people to do what they love, the less they will love it.

Really? Because when I'm trying to come up with ideas for a Super Bowl commercial, and I'm working until midnight, or giving up my weekends and the opportunity to spend quality time in my hammock, I never find myself thinking, "Boy, if it weren't for all the external rewards I'd be so much more engaged in this project."

Furthermore, where does this clueless academic come off with the notion that we (and I'm speaking about advertising folks not real creative artists) "love what we do"?

I love making a living with words and with ideas and with people who have a bright imagination. But I don't "love" making 236 X 64 banner ads for flea collars or "ideating" a social media platform for a furniture polish.

And I certainly won't "love" it more if they pay me less.

The sad part is I'm sure this article was clipped by every ad agency HR manager across the country. And it will be used against creative people, who stopped getting raises and bonuses years ago, and who can now expect well-justified pay cuts.

You know, to make them happier at their jobs.


Anonymous said...

You're closing statement about HR department's may be true - but let's be honest - none of them are reading HBR...my apologies to your wife.

glasgowdick said...

Thank you anonymopus for your honesty and unassailable logic.

Carrie said...

How salient and true and timely this is. This is exactly what just happened to me. The truth is the money is one of the only things I enjoy about advertising anymore. And that should be a testament to the suits who have systematically ruined our industry. Lord knows, we don't need tenured and overpaid professors helping the suits along. Creative-but-difficult. Maybe they should examine the fact that we're the only people in an agency that actually create a product. As usual, your insight is priceless compared to the drivel of the Noncreative-but-Insulting.