Our Traffic Manager is a VIP in our business culture. She keeps all the projects moving toward the finish line and coordinates everyone’s workload. That’s a huge job for a shop of 25 people! All with different work styles and personalities too. Some days I’m not sure how she does it.
I think it’s very important that leadership gets behind the Traffic Manager and stresses making sure he or she has what’s needed to do the job. And, that everyone in the organization pledges to take the time to put the correct information “in the system,” as we call it. What are the deadlines, the must haves, the non-negotiables, the meetings that must occur, the dates and publications? What is the budget, the thought behind the project, the main message?
I always tell people to remember that our Traffic Manager wasn’t in the meeting and we need to put as much information as possible in the system in order to make her feel like she was there; and she knows exactly what needs to happen and by when. If you work in Account Service, chances are you’re going to recap a client meeting with notes to the client so you’ll already have a good basis for providing the information your Traffic Manager requires.
Some people think they’re above putting all the information in the system. They think, “just get the job open and we can fill in the details later.” Bad idea. Later can often become, “I forgot” and then more than a few folks are sent scrambling to make up for what could be viewed as sheer laziness. Or, it can lead to a lot of changes because no one on the team ever got the same information about the main message of the project.
That’s why I like having a project management system and putting the information into one place. The copywriter and designer, or programmer, all see the same information and start on the same page. Walking around to tell the job story will always lead to a failure to communicate at least one aspect of the project. And, nobody likes going back to the board because of incomplete communication.
I want our Traffic Manager — her name is Laura — to feel empowered to go after the duds who don’t use our system properly. She’s got my full endorsement and a pink Louisville Slugger bat with her name on it if someone is really out of line (just for fun, of course). Seriously though, it’s very important that you make everyone aware in your company that Traffic is to be honored and respected, if you want to be successful. I’ve found that “over-communicating” is the best policy. That way, Laura has my back. And, my projects are always on track.
Oh, and one other thing: You might say “thank you” from time to time and direct any team kuddos from the client to him or her. After all, Traffic plays on every creative work team in the company!