GolinHarris Chicago staffers leave after reorganization

CHICAGO: About a dozen staffers have left GolinHarris' Chicago office a year after the agency restructured around four specialty groups.

CHICAGO: About a dozen staffers have left GolinHarris' Chicago office a year after the agency restructured around four specialty groups.

GolinHarris CEO Fred Cook said the departing employees did not fit well into the new roles created at the firm.

Last year, the Interpublic Group agency set in motion a redesign based on four areas of expertise rather than traditional PR silos. The new agency structure, called the “g4 model,” brought an end to the standard hierarchy of job titles by which agency employees typically define themselves, such as account executive, account supervisor, VP, and MD.

“Initially, our intent was to play with our current team, and we transitioned people into various communities. After a year, we did a reassessment to see how people were working in their new roles,” Cook said. “We just found that some people didn't fit into the new roles as well as we had hoped.”

Cook declined to name the people who exited, but said the departures were across levels and specialty groups. The employees did not leave because of a decline in business or any account changes, he added.

“We're right on our numbers, and we've won a ton of new business. It's just a question of, at some point in our transition, we had to make some decisions about the people who we felt were going to be part of our future or not,” Cook said.

Golin has hired eight staffers in the last month, and it is recruiting for eight open positions across senior levels, Cook said.The agency is looking to hire people with more “specialized skill sets,” in the areas of social media, digital design and production, research and analysis, and account management, he said.

“We're being much more careful about hiring people who will help us broaden our capabilities into a lot of new areas,” Cook said. “We have found we're getting a higher and more diverse level of resumes than we previously had. A lot of people who may not have thought a PR agency was the place for them now contact us because they think it will be a better fit.”

The g4 model consists of four groups of specialists – strategists, creators, connectors, and catalysts – who are embedded on all accounts. At the start of the transition, every member of GolinHarris' staff completed a “prevolve” self-assessment survey to determine which g4 group was most appropriate.

The agency just began its annual client survey, through which it will measure reactions to the new model. So far clients have responded positively to the redesign, Cook said.

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