Public speaking and attending employment tribunals come equal last
on my list of favourite tasks. Fortunately, neither has been necessary
to date. But, when the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising asked
me to give a talk to launch Continuous Professional Development, it was
time to say yes.
Some of you may be thinking ’continuous what?’ Basically the idea is
that agency people, just like other professionals, should have a
recognised and formal method of ensuring that everyone receives ongoing
It sounds simple, but it’s taken years for someone to come up with a
plan for it - Gary Duckworth take a bow.
To gain accreditation agencies have to provide evidence of professional
development goals related to business plans, an induction programme and
individual appraisals identifying development needs. This isn’t a
dash-it-off over lunch kind of thing - staff need to clock up at least
16 hours development time - so it’s not to be taken lightly.
Somewhat predictably, in the first year the scheme will only include the
’acceptable’ face of the industry such as planners, account directors
and media suits.
It’s sad that creatives are still considered too tricky a market to deal
with in the launch year - the wisdom of excluding the most inquisitive,
open-minded people I’ve ever come across seems a little doubtful. I
clearly have much to learn about the industry!
Recruiting and developing the best and the brightest is a critical
factor facing the industry. It is not a new phenomenon but the first
issue that comes up is: ’How do we find the time?’
The fact is, we don’t think this is a luxury. It’s something we make
time for and that means having a dedicated team of four full-time people
who manage benefits, welfare, inductions, appraisals, training,
development and even the leaving experience. Not to mention the ongoing
relationship with our organisational development consultant. Away-days
are a luxury.
Spending money on developing people is a priority.
The second question is invariably accompanied by an intake of breath,
normally reserved for those in the building profession: ’Must cost an
arm and a leg.’ Sure, it’s not cheap but so is losing your staff to
competitors. You don’t need an MBA to see the connection.
If, as an industry, we are going to be true business partners, as well
as inspirational visionaries for our clients, we’d better get learning
some of the same stuff and more besides.
The IPA CPD initiative is a great start for the industry. Sure, you’ll
get the cynics who think personal development is for people who want to
hold hands and rebirth their inner child.
But remember five years ago, when a person spent hours surfing the net,
they were either a geek or a pervert. Today net surfing is just a daily
part of work. And who knows, next time you see a colleague surfing, the
chances are they will be completing their IPA CPD on the website.
Lou Burrows is at HHCL & Partners.