Monday, October 24, 2011

Studio Performance Metrics: Math, Perception, or Good Management?

Measuring an individual's performance in an Advertising Studio with Profit Center guidelines, could be as easy as applying a simple Profit Margin formula that will accurately give you each artist's ROI. However, these numbers can be particularly deceiving in many ways.

Let me explain by presenting five Case Studies with a universe of 10 operators, which can very well represent any Studio population:

Case Study #1
A Studio with 10 operators where only 3 of them have the required set of skills to handle every single request. These 3 operators do more than 80% of the work load while the rest will have lots of downtime on their time-sheets. Not very promising. You should probably be looking to run a lean Studio with only 3 or 4 operators.

Case Study #2
A skill-balanced Studio with 2 conflicting, bad-attitude individuals and 3 proactive operators will pretty much present the same workload unbalance as the previous case. We have 3 operators coming to their Manager asking for the next job, volunteering to do overtime. Before you know it, their active participation, good work ethic and close interaction with their supervisor will have them getting most of the work load every single day. And again, plenty of downtime on the other operators' timesheets.

Case Study #3
The "Specialist" or the Studio Artist who usually works on special projects, which are usually non-billable. Even when this individual often work more hours than the rest, the fact is that anyone working on billable jobs can easily beat his ROI by only working half as many hours.

Case Study #4
“Slow” or "Milking the jobs" operators. These individuals present a double problem to the Studio Manager. Their timesheets are usually "air-tight" with no downtime but at the same time they affect the job estimate, resulting in conflict with the client or requester because of overcharging, not to mention that it also affects the morale of the rest of the team.

Case Study #5
The "Charismatic" operator. This is the one that some of the requesters ask to work with exclusively. These operators are usually very skilled and possess great personality—nothing wrong about this. The problem is by allowing the requester to dictate whom they want to work with, you are pretty much defeating the purpose of a balanced job distribution throughout your team.

All these cases, more often than what you'd imagine, can go unnoticed. Many Studio Managers go on the routinely and easy road of handling the daily work load with "their people" and don't really pay too much attention to this situation. 

It actually presents a true management challenge when there is anticipation of the problem and we're trying to ensure a fair workload distribution. In many occasions an operator presents a poor performance review, when it might really be a case of poor management.  It is a fact that not all the operators have the same level of skills, so let's create an environment of highly motivated individuals by means of reward programs and also by promoting professional growth via training and coaching.

An Individual's performance shouldn't be measured by applying a single metric only, there are so many variables in place that is absolutely necessary to pay attention to details.


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Ernie Arias