“A traffic manager regulates the traffic right? You know, like all the cars on the N1?” It’s questions like this we have to answer 75% of the time when we tell people we’re traffic managers.
The above mentioned is not all that wrong, though. We do regulate traffic – production traffic.
In the digital industry, we refer to it as the “work backlog”. Traffic managers connect the Account Managers (AM) to other departments within the agency that produce the work the AMs have sold.
A great deal of the responsibility of a traffic manager revolves around listening, so being a good listener is compulsory. You need to be able to understand the client’s expectations, make sure the deliverables are clear, the deadlines are reasonable and everything is done according to the brief.
Once the brief has been approved, the traffic manager books it in for production. At Rogerwilco, we make use of Agile management, more specifically Scrum – an incremental method of managing. This includes daily stand up meetings with the teams which are never longer than 15 minutes. Again, even though you are responsible for facilitating the meeting, you have to listen to the team and sometimes you have to be able to read between the lines. To be good at this, you need to know your team. This way you are able to see when they are not on top of their game. You have to sense when things are not going well, even if they don’t say it in as many words. And you need to know that certain personalities should be treated in specific ways.
The great thing about being a traffic manager is you learn so many life skills. You work in a fast-paced environment, working under pressure in an ever changing world and you’re able to learn how different personalities work. What makes them tick, what will upset them, how to approach different situations, when to talk and when to listen. All of which, let’s face it, are amazing skills to have in your personal life.
Traffic is also one of the most challenging departments. You have to be able to place the needs of others above your own, confront issues head on and sometimes have to make very unpopular decisions. It all comes down to you. The great thing is that your approach and positive attitude towards the situation can turn the whole issue around. Therefore, as hard as it gets from time to time, you need to stay in control of your own emotions. And, of course, maybe just have one of those “me moments” where you excuse yourself and take a breather.
In conclusion, traffic managers do indeed regulate the “cars”. The speed they drive, where they are going, when they will get there and how they will get there.
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