In-House Issues: It’s A Wonderful In-house

Poor George Bailey, at the climax of the movie classic “It’s A Wonderful Life”, is distraught over his belief that he has brought nothing good to his hometown of Bedford Falls. He is about to end his life when an angel, in the form of a sweet but bumbling older man named Clarence, shows him what life in Bedford Falls would be like if George had never existed. It’s a pretty bleak picture that shows George, in very stark terms, just how much value he has brought to those whose lives he has touched. This realization jolts him into a deep appreciation of his life and the people in it.

In-house teams face a slightly different challenge than George. It’s not you, but rather your companies, which often don’t appreciate the value you bring and look for ways to downsize, under resource or eliminate your team. This puts your group in the awkward position of defending yourselves and pointing out your contributions. The arguments are usually presented in the form of an audit of the current circumstances that showcase your in-house department’s cost savings, efficiencies and value-adds.

I’d suggest that a more powerful tack to take is to document and present the scenario of what it would be like for your company if your team did not exist. Just who would do the work, how much would it cost and what direction and handholding would these replacements need in order to work with clients, the company’s routing and review processes, legal and branding guidelines? How much longer would it take for projects to be completed, how much more involved would clients and other supporting players like the procurement, marketing and legal departments need to be, taking them away from other core responsibilities?

Tangible consequences would surely result from there being no internal creative team. Most likely there would be more AA’s at press, more marketing collateral being out of compliance with federal regulations and putting the company at risk of being audited and fined. More uncoordinated and fractured branding, diluting the company’s message. Less communication, less collaboration and less effective deliverables.

I’m sure there would be other consequences specific to your business that you could add to the list. The bottom line is that your absence would directly impact the bottom line. It’s always amazed me how, when undervalued and usually underpaid employees, announce that they’re leaving, how their companies suddenly find money in the budget for a bonus and a raise to keep them. The implications of what their absence would mean suddenly becomes very real to their managers. You should make the consequences of you and your team’s absence as real for your company as possible. Your value will certainly become more obvious, and like George Bailey, you and your companies may come to see you and your team in a whole new light.

One thought on “In-House Issues: It’s A Wonderful In-house

  1. Bob Calvano

    Andy,
    This is a really great suggestion. My team and I are currently going down the path of showcasing cost savings, efficiencies, value-adds, etc. I’d love to add to these tactics by demonstrating the impact it would have if the team did not exist. It’s a brilliant approach.

    Recently, a few positions were being eliminated in another department at the company I work for. The client that was going to be impacted by the job eliminations virtually panicked when they realized that the service they relied on was not going to be available in-house. Going outside to get the work done was possible, but unbelievably complex, and it put a lot of additional work on the client that they would not be able to absorb (nor was it the type of work they should be spending their valuable time on).

    Luckily, my department was able to save a job and provide business continuity by demonstrating the business reasons to keep the support in-house.

    The absence of something often makes you realize how much it is needed.

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