360i’s Bryan Wiener on agency talent development: ‘Training is overhead’

Attracting and retaining talent is a broad concern for the agency world, but agencies should also pay attention to training, according to 360i’s chairman Bryan Wiener.

Speaking at the Digiday Agency Summit in Key Biscayne, Wiener pointed at how agencies, including 360i, struggle with balancing investment in training and meeting costs at the same time. That’s the price of a fee-for-services model that agencies have. They might want to talk a big game about talent, but few have the resources to devote to training while trying to bill out their workers as much as possible.

“One of the challenges we have is, ‘How do you invest enough in training while still being able to pay the bills?,’” he asked. “That’s still one of the challenges with everything that’s happening with cost cutting and procurement and fees.”

A related issue: Agency leadership is often stretched thin and unable to devote the needed time to developing workers into managers.

“A manager or a coach is part of that overhead,” he said. “Training is part of that overhead. It’s absolutely essential to do that, especially for new manager training.”

What’s more, at a time when agencies face more competition than ever for talent, not just from other agencies but also from the likes of Google and Facebook, training can help in talent retention.

“The number one people leave companies, certainly the number one reason people leave 360i, is not money,” he said. “It’s because they feel that their manager is not looking out for them and where they are going.”

He also advised agency folks to “own their own careers.”

“I always thought of my career as a stock — I want to build equity value over the long term,” he said. “I wasn’t so worried about the next six months or the next year in terms of compensation. It was about how I’m getting skills, experiences and meeting people that was going to benefit me over the long term and enable me to run a much larger operation.”

Watch Wiener’s talk from DAS with Digiday brands/agencies editor Shareen Pathak below:


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