Q: Someone who reports to me is in a band - and don't we know it! I work in a branding agency, so this sort of thing is quite common.
He's had a couple of gigs at festivals over the summer and his band has enjoyed a modicum of success, but he's starting to live the Mick Jagger lifestyle and I need to put my foot down without coming across as an ogre. I like the fact that my staff can express their creativity, but not on company time. What's your advice?
A: You clearly - yet - haven't let your disapproval build up into a great pressure-cooker of indignation. That's excellent; it means you can still make your point without coming across as your ogre or sounding totally out of touch. You can play it cool.
Go to one of those party shops where you can have badges made up. Make up two: one with the name and logo of your company on it and one with the name and logo of your Jack-the-Lad's band. (You can probably do it all online.) Make them big and bold. Then take him out for a drink. Tell him, as you've told me, that you're delighted to have creative people around you and you wish him well with the band. All you ask, for the sake of his colleagues, is that he remembers at all times which of his two lives he's living. Then give him the badges and buy him another drink.
I bet that's enough; but if it isn't, you can always up the pressure later.
- Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. His book Another Bad Day at the Office? is published by Penguin at £6.99. Address your problem to Jeremy Bullmore at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.