ADG Creative Reviews | Glassdoor

ADG Creative Reviews

Updated April 19, 2017
27 reviews

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Jeff Antkowiak
17 Ratings

27 Employee Reviews

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  1. "A great company to work for"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Columbia, MD
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Columbia, MD
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    While working at ADG is that you will work with some of the best and most talented people in the industry. I thoroughly enjoy working here. Everyone here is very friendly, welcoming, and supportive. Hard work and creativity is acknowledged and encouraged. Communication is open and always encouraged, which allows for your great ideas to be able to find a home to thrive. Professional growth is encouraged and any/all will work with you to help you to grow. This is one of the first places where it really feels like a community not just a place to go work for your eight hours. The employee-focused events, company breakfasts, and team meetings, are well done without having that "mandatory" feeling.

    Cons

    I hav not experienced the cons that others have expressed. A lot of changes have been implemented/are being implemented which allows for greater communication and growth. ADG is dedicated to ensuring that their employees are well cared for and it shows.

    Advice to Management

    Keep moving forward with the changes and plans that are underway.


  2. Helpful (11)

    "Another one bites the dust..."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Columbia, MD
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Columbia, MD
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at ADG Creative full-time

    Pros

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

    Cons

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

    Advice to Management

    Stop 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.

  3. Helpful (1)

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

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Columbia, MD
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Columbia, MD
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at ADG Creative full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    You'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.

    Cons

    The 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 Management

    You 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.


  4. Helpful (2)

    "There's no place like home."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Designer in Columbia, MD
    Current Employee - Designer in Columbia, MD
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at ADG Creative full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Earlier 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

    Cons

    People take it for granted.


  5. Helpful (7)

    "ADG has an authenticity problem"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Applications Programmer in Columbia, MD
    Former Employee - Applications Programmer in Columbia, MD
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at ADG Creative full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

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

    Cons

    Simply 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 Management

    Given 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?


  6. Helpful (7)

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

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Columbia, MD
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Columbia, MD
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at ADG Creative full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    ADG 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.

    Cons

    As 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 Management

    Give 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.


  7. Helpful (12)

    "Don't waste your time if you are looking for a REAL agency"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Columbia, MD
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Columbia, MD
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at ADG Creative full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Beer on tap
    gym
    Starbucks-esque bistro
    some very talented developers and designers

    Cons

    leadership sucks
    commercial efforts are laughable
    cult-like structure around the owner

    Advice to Management

    Focus on the real issues you have as a company not the low hanging fruit and stupid stuff like monitoring what time people get in and leave or if people enter their time sheets before they leave for the day. That stuff is irrelevant compared to the overarching problems you have as an organization.

    Make the decision to just cut your commercial practice and focus on what you know - federal. Newsflash - commercial clients could care less about your "cool space" and your SCIF they want to know your capabilities...what are they again?

    Stop saying that the company culture is important - it isn't. The culture is like Waco, TX. Everything is built around one personality and EVERYONE is afraid of saying anything contrary to what the leader has to say, especially the design staff. They are petrified to "make him mad" and won't push the envelope or think outside of the box out of fear that "He" will rip them apart.

    The owner is clearly more vested and interested in the Federal practice and spends 80% of his time with the federal clients and internal teams. Yet, the commercial clients have met him maybe once if at all. He knows little to nothing about what is going on in the commercial practice other than the bottom line. The only time the commercial team hears from him is if the budgets are blown. Which leads to my next point...

    Hire smart people and get out of their way. Trust them to do the job you hired them for. Budgets are usually blown because there are far too many cooks in the kitchen - including the owner. He is known to use the design staff as a pair of hands to get the work started and then jumps in and finishes. It demeans your staff and kills morale.

    Finally, if leadership spent 1/2 as much time and resources on developing a good culture and process as they do as throwing elaborate parties they would actually be a viable agency.

  8. Helpful (10)

    "Like working on the Wizard of Oz set"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Columbia, MD
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Columbia, MD
    Doesn't Recommend

    Pros

    Environment, State of the Art equipment access, Happy Hour, Team Breakfasts

    Cons

    Almost total consumption of your life without much incentive for the extra work


  9. Helpful (9)

    "Difficult environment for me to work in....."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Columbia, MD
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Columbia, MD
    Doesn't Recommend

    Pros

    The talent pool at ADG is wonderful. I had the chance to work with some of the most creative people I have ever met. Office space is beautiful.

    Cons

    The Senior Management at ADG is well behind in the times. Management promotes based on who will think inside their box and not challenge them with their own thoughts and ideas. There is not a healthy balance between professional life and personal life. The hours can get to be ridiculous and if you speak up about anything, it typically will be held against you.

    Advice to Management

    Practice what you preach. Senior Management states it wants individuals to come up with their own ideas but then they are scrutinized for doing so. Accept that not everyone is the same and be willing to look at what individuals offer the Company instead of finding flaws in almost every employee. Promote based on work performance - not your favorite employees. Look at substance over appearance and Management may find a lot of hidden talent they may be missing and they may find some employees may not be as they appear. Stop micro-managing!


  10. Helpful (2)

    "Great Talent - Cool Projects"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Columbia, MD
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Columbia, MD
    Recommends

    Pros

    Everyone employed at ADG is tremendously talented and committed to putting out top-notch work. It's truly a team environment designed to foster collaboration. Employees have quite a variety of backgrounds and expertise to tap for support. At ADG I get to work on some pretty awesome projects that use cutting edge technology. Senior management also offers plenty of free opportunities for all employees to enhance and refine their skills to stay on top of the technology curve. Everything about the work environment is designed with the employees in mind with lots of outlets to keep the creative brain juice flowing.

    Cons

    Let's face it, working in an agency environment isn't for everyone. Sometimes, long hours are required to meet deadline commitments to clients.

    Advice to Management

    Keep up the good work! Even in an economy that has seen agencies lay-off, fold or consolidate, ADG continues to grow.


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