Prepare Now for the Year-End Game of New Business Musical Chairs

Come year-end, we’ll see ad agency new business people engage in the annual ritual of getting fired and finding new jobs at different firms.

This game of musical chairs creates turmoil within agencies and for those terminated, and can be avoided. But the onus falls on the new business person to remain in the game.

What we know for sure is this: the ritual will begin in the next two months, and conversations about performance are taking place now as management teams plan for 2010. If you’re a new business person, what should you be doing today?

I recently read an interview with Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford Motor Company, who was asked by Adam Bryan of the New York Times, “What’s your best career advice?”

Here’s Mr. Mulally’s answer:

Don’t manage your career. Think about just exceeding expectations in every job you do, continually ask for feedback on how you can do an even better job, and the world will beat down your door to ask you to do more and more. I’ve never laid out a career, and, frankly, I’d propose that you really don’t know what a job is until you’re in it.

Exceeding expectations means:

  • First agreeing on measurable outcomes with your boss.
  • Meeting or exceeding those outcomes.
  • Solciiting feedback, and then raising the bar and repeating your success next year.

As you have only 2.5 months to deliver on your 2009 goals, if you’re behind you have your work cut out for you. If you feel you’ll keep your job, start now to build your 2010 plan – if you haven’t already – with your boss’ input.

If you think about it, Q4 is late to start working towards your 2010 goals, as today’s efforts likely won’t pay off until Q2 next year.

If you see the writing on the wall in terms of your future employment, it’s also not too early to start looking for a new job, so you have a seat when the music stops.


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