26 min read

Building a Winning Culture in Your Affiliate Department: Spot the Red Flags Before They Bring You Down

There is a lot of debate around what culture means within the workplace. Despite the many definitions, when we think of culture, we think of the atmosphere created in the work environment. A positive company culture is essential as it keeps employees engaged and motivated to work at their highest potential. You want your employees to feel heard and appreciated, but negative behavior can creep into your woodworks, which can lead to poor performance or a loss of your top talent. Here we share advice on building and maintaining an amazing culture inside your affiliate department with tips to help spot the red flags that can interfere with your organization’s health.  


Work as a Team 


For your affiliate department to flourish, you must establish a culture that thrives on team building. It is extremely important that a decisive social affiliate manager have a collaborative support structure, regardless of whether it is a small two-person pod or a big team.  


You must show your support for all the hard work your affiliate managers put into your business. A collaborative support structure includes brainstorming ways to pivot, reflecting on hard conversations, and staying energized. An affiliate manager is not hired to build your systems, which means the team works best, being able to pass off routines and maintenance work or building systems to pass onto other members of the team. Affiliate managers have high energy when they need it most to close the deal but realistically work better with team support to background ongoing nurturing and important relationship management. By providing them with breaks and support, they will be raring to go when it comes time to close those deals.  


A Clear and Non-Neglecting Culture 


The word nurture may appear odd when discussing dynamics within a work environment. However, creating a safe and respectful space for your affiliate managers encourages a healthy work culture. Recognition, positivity, and clear expectations can really help establish a healthy workplace by providing your team support. 


Generally, your affiliate managers do not need to be in the spotlight, but they do need consistent reinforcement of value and contribution. You can do this by celebrating the big and small wins – such as a “congrats on a great job” or maybe even bringing a cake in for the team. Positive reinforcement is always welcome to help create a nurturing culture. 


The culture within your department is only as positive as your team members. Therefore, you need to nip negativity in the bud immediately. Affiliate managers represent your company to prospects daily, and they can bring this negativity with them. As a result, this is most likely what potential partners and competition see. You should focus on a culture of solutions and communication – not complaining – otherwise, your affiliate managers will continue to have problems with the way you run your business. 


You must set clear work ethic expectations and your company values. If your affiliate managers are uncertain about your expectations and values, it will establish a tense work environment. Again, they represent you every day to outside companies, so you MUST make it clear what you consider non-negotiable values and expectations. These values must be reflected in all interactions with your affiliate managers; otherwise, outside companies may steer clear of you as a potential partner. 


Providing support by allowing your affiliate managers to express their emotions is also essential to creating an excellent work culture. If your department cannot approach you and share what they are feeling, that is a major issue. Your affiliate managers should feel comfortable enough to address their emotions so they do not feel devalued. 


Encouraging a culture of recognition to help support public acknowledgment of achievements is a great way to receive feedback. This removes the traditional standard of feedback solely from the management team. Allowing for recognition from everyone adds additional acknowledgment and learning opportunities to develop your business and improve your work culture. This is as simple as creating an NPS survey or choosing a value and asking your department to choose someone they felt exhibited this value correctly. 


Communication in the Affiliate Department 


One of the most important ways to perfect a healthy work culture within your affiliate department is through communication. This is an ongoing theme in many of our examples above. The essential takeaway you should receive is clarity — it will help solve a lot of your problems. A lack of clarity constantly stops affiliate managers from being in the energized groove they need to do their job well. Here are some areas of communication that will help greatly improve your work culture:   


Clarity on how to succeed in specific roles


Clarity on all your numbers and how you will be achieving them 


A clear framework of all approved decision-making 


Clear 15-minute daily check-ins on direction and support 


  • What did you do yesterday? 
  • What are your Top 5 Goals to accomplish today and why? 
  • Do you need help with any challenges, questions, fears, or concerns?  


Clear hour-long weekly check-ins on direction and support 


  • Positive Focus (highlight of last week) 
  • Numbers Hit vs Goals 
  • Goal for the next week 
  • What is one thing we can improve next week? 
  • Do you need help with any challenges, questions, fears, or concerns? 


Clear one-on-one Monthly/Quarterly reviews 


  • The same five from the weekly check-ins. 
  • Scorecard 
  • Financial reviews 
  • What worked and what didn’t work? 
  • Set goals, timelines, and rewards for the next quarter. 



Salespeople need a “Sales Manager” 


It is important to note that you do not need to hire someone as your sales manager, you just need someone to step into the role of becoming your sales manager. This individual is responsible for: 


  • Receiving daily and weekly updates and feedback on their numbers  
  • Accountability  
  • Helping with mind-games  
  • Helping when people are feeling overwhelmed or down  
  • Regrouping when the numbers are down and celebrating when they are up 


A salesperson needs to report their numbers daily to someone or a system to make sure everything remains on track. The sales manager will ask questions to find out how well a salesperson is doing throughout the day/week and track salesperson accountability. 


Basics Needed for Affiliate Managers to Perform at a Top Level 


This is related to work culture because if your affiliate managers’ needs are not met, then it does not matter how anything else you’ve read so far adds up. Simply put, they will not succeed without the following basics needed for affiliate managers to perform at the top level: 


  • Converting offers 
  • Fresh Assets and Adaptable to affiliates 
  • Clear approval process 
  • Range of negotiating tools 
  • Decision-making range  
  • What is the range they must make decisions about? Success or failure is their decision. 
  • Admin support 
  • Sales manager support 


Even if the affiliate manager you hire does not have all these skills, it is up to you to provide them with training and tools so they can begin to succeed in their position. 


Culture Red Flags 


When trying to establish a healthy work culture within your affiliate department, there are red flags you need to recognize that can damage your work environment. Some you can fix, and some you cannot. 


Red flags you cannot fix produced by your affiliate manager: 


  • No event ROI – lots of vague answers (“We met a lot of people” vs “I closed 23,000 clicks”). 
  • Don’t know what they do all day, get strong and emotional pushback when asked. 
  • Very protective of contacts – won’t just pass the info on to you – explanations are fine, NOT giving it up easily, is a warning. 
  • Publicly speaking about the company in negative terms, complaints, or sarcasm. 
  • Long periods without communication and updates. 
  • Missing key goals a few months in a row with lots of excuses and numbers going up and down without a clear reason why. 
  • Their second tier isn’t working or clearly visible. 


Red flags you can fix produced by you: 


  • A lot of gossip and chatter that’s unproductive. 
  • Work becomes sloppy. 
  • Mentioning being “Overwhelmed.” 
  • Expressing “Unfairness,” 


It is extremely important to know the difference between red flags that are produced by you (the ones you can fix) and the ones that come from your affiliate managers (the ones you can’t fix). Once you figure out these differences, you can begin working towards providing solutions to the ones you can fix, and perhaps cutting loose ends on the ones you cannot. This is a difficult process, especially if you have an affiliate manager you like raising all the red flags. However, nipping it in the bud is essential to your company’s growth. In this case, you must know when you should hire a replacement for your red flag raising affiliate managers. 


Remember, if you ever need help in any of your endeavors, East 5th Avenue can help you find, hire, and train your very own rockstar AM.


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Accountability, Affiliate Department Culture, affiliate managers, Clarity, Communication, Culture of Recognition, East 5th Avenue, Employee Engagement, Negativity, Nurturing Culture, Performance Metrics, Positive Reinforcement, Red Flags, Sales Manager, Salespeople, Support Structure, Team Building, Values, Work Environment, Work Ethic Expectations
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