ADG Creative

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ADG Creative Reviews

Updated Jun 22, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

2.5 17 reviews

50% Approve of the CEO

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Jeff Antkowiak

(6 ratings)

41% of employees recommend this company to a friend
17 Employee Reviews
Relevance Date Rating
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    • Culture & Values
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    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
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    Honest Review From Current Employee

    Communications Strategist (Current Employee)

    ProsAfter reading all of these negative reviews, I figured it is only fair to ADG and my fellow coworkers to add an honest review that is not made by a disgruntled employee or a recent fire.

    First, ADG is not 100% perfect, but really, what company is? Here are some reasons why I love working here:

    • The work- I love what we do! Every day is different, I get to help solve my clients’ toughest problems, and I feel proud to present our solutions and products.

    • The people- Most people hired here are unique, talented, and fun-loving. I have to say I have never worked with a better group of people, and I have built friendships that will last a lifetime.

    • Environment- ADG is not like your typical company. The CEO is a fun-loving guy that likes to work hard and play hard which comes through in how he runs his company. We have random, fun events all year long like gumbo, holiday parties and reoccurring events like Fri happy hours and Monday morning breakfasts. These types of events allow employees to bond with one another and take some time to relax from work.

    • Career growth- I have read many reviews that touch upon the fact that there isn’t a lot of opportunity to grow here. I actually agreed with this statement when I first started here a year and a half ago; however, I believe this is changing. Recently I have seen people get promoted and have spoken to my supervisor about my career growth plan. I do have more confidence now that I am not stuck in the same position for years.

    Cons• Processes and procedures: This is the biggest issue I have faced at ADG. I think ADG is aware that their processes and procedures could use some help which is apparent through a few COOs that have been brought in to help.

    • Disconnect between leadership and employees. I think there is great communication between employees and their managers and great communication with managers and the highest leadership at ADG, but sometimes is seems like the message gets lost between those two levels.

    There are also two areas I would like to comment on:

    Firing craze- Yes, people have been let go recently. I am not in a leadership position, so I do not have insight into why or what the process was, but I do know that things happen behind the scenes that most employees do not know about. For example, I know people who have been put on improvement plans long before they are let go. This obviously isn’t advertised and it shouldn’t be.

    Work life balance- When I first started people were working a lot of long days. I have noticed that decrease over the past year and unless we are working towards a tight deadline, most people are back to 40 hour work weeks. Yes, there are people who work more, but a majority of people maintain normal work hours.

    Advice to Senior ManagementKeep working towards streamlining processes and procedures.

    Show employees you value them. The employees you want to invest in should know they are valued. Since promotions take a while, there should be intermediary “rewards” for a job well done: raises, bonuses, days off, etc. i

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
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    • Senior Management
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    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    5 people found this helpful  

    Another one bites the dust...

    (Current Employee) Columbia, MD

    ProsThe staff sitting on the front lines are all top notch human beings.

    ConsManagement in the glass hallway has no clue. No advancement opportunities. Employee retention is low watch your co-workers disappear with no explanation.

    Advice to Senior ManagementStop firing good people with no explanation. Us who are left behind are feeling insecure, upset and angry. What are you trying to accomplish? What is the point? When will it stop? This place could be absolutely great, the talent is here. If only management actually listened to us and followed through with their "innovative" ideas.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    1 person found this helpful  

    A great stepping stone, even if not a 10+ year job

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee) Columbia, MD

    ProsYou'll build some great relationships at ADG, get your hands into amazing products that use some of the most futuristic display technologies in the field, work with lifer clients that would invite you to their child's birthday party, and have budgets that are unheard of at the typical commercial agency.

    I won't insult the place or the people by ranking the frivolous perks up here as most important, but I will include the hosted professional events by AIGA and other industry greats as mentionable boons.

    ConsThe larger retention issues tend to be around professional growth. ADG's been trying to resolve that issue with new review processes, but it still remains.

    The eager staff who come through are amazing at what they do, are enamored with the office for the first year, then suffer waning interest as they begin to realize there is no up or across. You'll need a personality type that forces growth discussions, because they generally won't come to you. Simply put, the agency hasn't figured out a mentorship structure, cross-disciplinary brainstorming, or basic "ownership" incentives like profit-sharing or a partnership track.

    Ultimately, people leave with inner conflict when they plateau.

    Advice to Senior ManagementYou already know this, but emphasize helping ADGers imagine their future—with ADG remaining an important part of the picture.

    • Support cross-disciplinary growth; have a designer draft a proposal and a developer sketch a functional navigation pattern.

    • Prioritize mentorship and internal projects as part of the 40-hour week—not above and beyond.

    • Delegate; create swat teams for smaller low-budget projects, leave leadership out of the picture, and trust the professionals you hired are more than capable to knock it out of the park even if they stumble a bit.

    • Schedule and foster professional trajectory discussions even with the employees who are too timid to come to you with demands.

    -----

    Despite the mixed reviews on Glassdoor, I certainly don't regret working at ADG and remain quite fond of the work, the environment, and the people (even the leadership). I was able to fill out my practice area, have candid discussions about my professional growth aspirations, and choose the types of projects I wanted to invest more time and ownership in. ADG prepared me for the next step in my career.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    • Culture & Values
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    5 people found this helpful  

    Is the Bermuda Triangle located in Columbia?

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    ProsThe relationships you will form with the other worker bees at ADG Creative will be wonderful. The talent that this agency attracts is unbelievable.

    ConsEmployees aren't given the benefit of the doubt that they know how to perform their jobs. The CEO manages this company like Kim Jong-un overseas the DPRK. While you have amazing colleagues, eventually you will burn out as you see there is no upward momentum for a job well done and that much of your personal time is spent working. Retention rates are through the roof. One day you'll be working with someone, and the next day, without warning, management is escorting them out of the building.

    Advice to Senior ManagementIf you want to increase morale, stop firing those who work the hardest. Employees are too busy wondering who will be pushed out next to concentrate on their work. Employees are what makes a company, and you have (and have had) some extremely talented folks. Incentive and reward those who work hard. Stop trying to manage every minute detail and give those you've hired the ability to do what you've hired them too.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    2 people found this helpful  

    There's no place like home.

    Designer (Current Employee) Columbia, MD

    ProsEarlier this year I was given the opportunity to leave ADG and go to a different company. I took the opportunity thinking that perhaps I would learn and grow more if I went somewhere else. A few months in, after I was submerged into the new environment, I realized that what I wanted to learn and experience, I actually walked away from.

    One morning I woke up sad, struggling to understand what this career path was that I was following, I thought to myself, "I want to go home(thinking about ADG)." When I came in to work that morning I had an email from Jeff that read, "It's time for you to stop playing for the little league, and come back to play for the pros."

    That day changed my whole perspective. The whole time I was at the other company, I couldn't stop talking about how amazing and talented the people were at ADG, and how much I enjoyed the monday morning breakfasts. Not just for the food portion of it, although I do really enjoy that, but the fact that I got to see some of my favorite people. I love the culture, the exciting projects and how close everyone is - we have each others backs. And at the end of the day we provide clients with work that makes a difference. Not too many people can say that about their jobs...

    I guess the point that I'm making here, is that I thought the grass would be greener on the other side, but I was wrong. There is no place like ADG. Yes, there are days that you have to work a little later, and sometimes that day lasts a couple of weeks. But, it's not everyday, it's not unnoticed, and it's for an amazing purpose. I'm not a manager, just a designer in the federal space. So before you believe all the negative things you read online, realize that ADG is filled with people that love what they do and where they work - they just express it offline. Take it from me, I'm happy to be home.

    ~Tatyana

    ConsPeople take it for granted.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
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    • No Opinion of CEO

    6 people found this helpful  

    It's unfortunate...

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    ProsThere are very high levels of talent in the design and developer teams and interesting but not unique projects. They have a nice building with good equipment and free coffee.

    ConsADG has a toxic culture of micromanagement, fear, bullying, and lies with a complete disregard for work life balance that results in a high turn over. Many if not all of the issues stem from ineffective middle management and senior strategists. On most jobs leadership ego drives tasks over creative processes, collaboration, and even client requests. There is no mentoring or consideration for individual growth topped off by forced attendance for social events and excessive unpaid overtime. There is great potential but unfortunately will likely continue to be unrealized.

    Advice to Senior ManagementTake an honest look at your staff, culture, and projects and ask how much matches what you claim to represent. Consider how many times you can write off a departing employee as "they could not handle the challenges" when former employees continue to stay in the same field and become effective at equally challenging projects in other environments.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
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    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    4 people found this helpful  

    ADG has an authenticity problem

    Applications Programmer (Former Employee) Columbia, MD

    ProsBeautiful workspace, well equipped, fun parties and challenging projects. There are truly talented people working at ADG, and they want the best for their clients.

    ConsSimply put, ADG has an authenticity problem.

    For example, look at their office space. It's a facade, like a movie set. Instead of moving in to a neighborhood with a cool coffee bar cafe, they built their own, inside the agency. (This speaks volumes about the owner's controlling personality. Keep the employees where we can see them!) It makes for a nice tour for prospective clients, but sooner or later they realize, "Hey, I'm paying for this fake coffee bar..." and question the value they're getting. Time after time, we've seen agencies who invest in this fluff finding themselves fragile, no longer able to be nimble, straining under the crushing weight of overhead while leaner, up and coming organizations nip at their heels.

    The work suffers from a lack of authenticity, too, mainly because all creative work is done under the looming shadow of the CEO, who has the final say on everything. "Hands on" is an understatement, here. Management claims a culture of collaboration, but in reality the creative staff quickly learns to stay within the comfort zone of the CEO, or face his often public wrath. Needless to say, turnover is high.

    All of the cool stuff on display at ADG (the coffee bar, the workout room, the beer taps, etc...) are part of this elaborate facade. Employees simply don't have the luxury of enjoying them. They throw big parties, but make all of the employees wear uniforms. (And nothing says "creative" like a uniform, even if it is a hipster bowling shirt.) How ironic that the CEO has a quote from The Wizard of Oz ("Nobody gets to see the wizard!") above his door.

    Advice to Senior ManagementGiven the size of your organization, you've little choice but to keep feeding the machine. Squirrel away funds for the eventual rainy day, because it will come. The streets are littered with the remains of creative organizations that enjoy some success, grow beyond their means, then collapse under their own weight. That's my fear for ADG. In the end, who's loyal to you? Who will stay with you when the going gets tough? Your employees? Your clients? Your family?

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
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    1 person found this helpful  

    You won't get an experience like this anywhere else!

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    Pros-You will always be challenged with thinking outside the box
    - You will always stay busy
    - You will be surrounded by extremely talented people

    Cons- Work/Life balance can be tough

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
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    • Senior Management
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    • Career Opportunities

    6 people found this helpful  

    Absolutely horrible.

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    ProsThe Columbia/Ellicott City area is considered one of the best places to raise a family with great schools. Not much else to say.

    ConsThe epitome of passive aggressive.

    Don't be fooled by all the talk of culture during their recruitment sales pitch. Every agency has a culture. Some good. Some suck. ADG's sucks. Upper management believes they have a great one because of their new office space, a coffee bar and a beer tap. That's nothing more than a nicely polished turd. The true culture of this agency is one that is ruled by fear. And it starts at the top. The creative product is dictated and often created by the hack CCO/Owner who is known for taking the designers' files home and reworking them on his own. The designers live in constant fear and often feel as though they're failing. The word "concepting" is foreign to them as they are driven solely by tactics. When it comes to strategy, there's not an ounce of it in the building.

    The COO is the henchman. He does owner's dirty work. This is not an embellishment as this is clearly communicated to the employees by the owner. The COO monitors everything in the agency. He tracks when people leave and come back from lunch. He even tracks how many bottles of water you drink a week.

    ADG's tagline is "Be Heard". Ironic since anyone who speaks up with a viewpoint that differs from that of upper management will quickly become an outcast and soon will be shown the door. They fire people quickly and the tenure of most of their employees is plus or minus a year.

    If after reading this and the other negative reviews you still take a position with ADG, good luck.

    Advice to Senior ManagementYou're not creative. your a vendor that completes tasks. Take the word "creative" off your sign and just be known as ADG.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
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    6 people found this helpful  

    Don't be lured by aesthetics; it's not what it seems.

    (Former Employee) Columbia, MD

    ProsADG Creative employees incredibly talented people, and has a beautiful office with nice equipment and amenities (game room, gym, cafe, library, etc.). They throw amazing parties, are involved in very cool projects, and have beer on tap.

    ConsAs an employee at ADG, you won't have time to use any of the amenities provided except for the cafe. There is zero work-life balance, and personal lives are disregarded. Employees are expected to be available via phone and email constantly (even during off hours -- evenings, weekends, vacations). People work insane hours, often staying well past closing time (I witnessed people staying overnight at the office occasionally).

    Employees are micromanaged by senior management, and they are afraid to speak up or voice their opinions. This is not a collaborative work evironment where ideas, questions, or self-initiative are welcome or appreciated. There is a bizarre cult-like culture surrounding the CEO and senior management. Employees are not provided with a job description, nor clear guidance as to what is expected of them. There aren't any clear, written operating procedures in place (no employee handbook, or anything similar). Employees are treated like mindless paper-pushers.

    All of the above reasons are why the turnover rate is terrible. People either get burned out or fed up.

    Advice to Senior ManagementGive your employees some credit and listen to them, or they will continue to drop like flies. Your employees are your bread and butter--without them, ADG is nothing. Institute a real performance review process where everyone, including senior management, is evaluated (everyone has room for improvement). Fix your billing practices, and stop managing through fear.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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