The agency employees' guide to bosses

Ian Lurie

You knew this was coming after yesterday’s post, right? Seems only fair that, after providing agency bosses a guide to employees, I now provide marketing agency employees a guide to bosses.

Unfortunately, this is really only a guide to me. I can’t see inside other boss’s heads. And they can’t see inside mine, I hope. So take this with a grain of salt.

But some of this is probably going on in your boss’s pointy little head:

  1. Your boss has your back.
  2. Sometimes, having your back means they accidentally plunge a three-foot spear through it. See yesterday’s post.
  3. She probably likes you. She likes most of her employees. She wants everyone to make lots of money. If everyone earns it.
  4. Unfortunately, the chances that your boss is a she are pretty slim. Our industry still apparently exists in the 1960s. I was raised by an ardent feminist, so it’s hard for me not to notice.
  5. It takes a lot to really piss off your boss. He’s more patient than you might think. Honest mistakes happen.
  6. On the other hand, persistent, unwavering incompetence may cause his head to explode like a cantaloupe in a microwave. Please learn from your mistakes.
  7. And, your boss is a person. He doesn’t plug into the wall to recharge every night. So he can run out of gas like anyone else. Keep that in mind and try not to take it too personally if he seems impatient.
  8. He loves—loves—when you learn something new, and apply it to a client.
  9. He loves when stuff Just Gets Taken Care Of.
  10. He loves to sing your praises.
  11. He really loves to hear clients sing your praises.
  12. He has limited patience for helplessness.
  13. Asking for help does not equal helplessness.
  14. Letting projects quietly spin out of control without telling anyone = helplessness.
  15. Trying the same thing again and again while hoping for a better result = insanity, as well as helplessness.
  16. Clients are not allowed to abuse you. Only your boss is allowed to do that. If a client does get abusive (I’m talking cursing, screaming, insulting, not just frustrated. There’s a difference.) tell your boss, and client ass-kicking will ensue posthaste.
  17. He wants you to go home at night. And on Friday.
  18. But he also wants you to work efficiently, manage your time and be smart about how you get your work done.
  19. He wants you to put your best effort in on every project.
  20. He doesn’t want to hear editorializing about who the agency represents. He’s trying to pay the bills. Including your salary. Deal with it.
  21. If stuff goes wrong, he’d appreciate a warning. A stupidity ambush will cause that whole cantaloupe-in-a-microwave thing again.
  22. Your boss knows you won’t work for him forever. It’s OK. All he asks is that you give him more than 2 days’ warning when you decide to pull up stakes and move to the Bahamas to pursue a new career as a wakeboarding instructor.
  23. Really, what your boss wants is to earn a lot of money, pay you a lot of money, grow his company (maybe her company, I hope) and fight the good fight. The less he has to work on day-to-day stuff, and the more he can work on teaching the team, the happier everyone will be.

Most important:

If you want your boss to think you’re the greatest thing ever:

  1. Get your tasks done on time, with minimal drama. Or warn when you can’t get them done. With minimal drama.
  2. Take initiative to find better ways to do things.
  3. Work to become more efficient.
  4. Be a great ‘face of the company’ with clients, other staff and the public.

Now, I need to go plug in and recharge…

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Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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