Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Ohhh the joys of agency life

I have a small team of three that support me on client work at the agency and I really couldn’t ask for a better bunch of people. My team are amazing, they are one of the biggest reasons I stay at the agency, because God knows it isn’t for the money, so it’s been a bit of a cause that I noticed one of my star team members, Jack, was away from his desk for a reasonably lengthy amount of time, at least a couple of hours, on Friday and Monday. To my, potentially paranoid, mind it seemed to be a long enough period to be off doing all sorts of things, such as taking a cab to go to a job interview elsewhere in Manhattan.


Ugh, I really hope that’s not the case, I would hate to lose him, but if it is…well I can’t say I would blame him, he’s fantastic at what he does, the clients and account teams completely adore him, but the agency doesn’t pay him anywhere near what he’s worth – me either for that matter, it’s a mystery why I stay* - and I am powerless to do anything beyond making a ruckus on the unfairness of the situation, which I do on a regular basis, so much so in fact that I suspect I may be acquiring something of a reputation as a pain in the arse with my head of department, but someone has to stick up for the young uns eh!! Sadly the agency just doesn’t appreciate loyalty, it’s a truth of the world of the advertising agencies that to be paid what you deserve you have to go to the bother of leaving and coming back, because only then will you be paid a competitive rate as a 'new' employee.

People are not happy where I work, you can feel it in the air, and despite promises of salary increases come the 3rd quarter rumor has it that a recent two week period saw 67 resignations across the agency - I know of 4, but I have no clue who the other 63 people might be, but come to think of it sightings of the Creative Cutie** have been as rare as hen's teeth of late. Oh no!! - meanwhile those of us that are crazy enough to remain have to listen to the powers that be spout bollocks about how they are going to great lengths to hire the best talent, and no doubt pay them a best talent salary. Um what are we…chopped liver??? Um…here's a novel idea, but how about you try investing in the people you already have???

Seriously the attitude of senior management just blows my mind, especially given that as an agency we regularly spout such pearls of marketing wisdom to our clients about how it costs 5 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an old one. 5 times!!!

Um…hello agency management…employees here…how much do you think it costs to hire and train a new person vs. giving a pay rise to motivate current, highly loyal employees???? I'll leave you to ponder that for a moment.

It's infuriating, but I see it all the time when I scope projects for clients, since there is a woman I work with who is more junior than me, but is charged out at a slightly higher rate and it's a well known fact that daily rates are based upon employee salaries, so....it doesn't take a genius to figure it out.

I casually queried the situation with my head of dept one day whose response was to feign puzzlement. Seriously this guy should NOT quit his day job to pursue an acting career, because there's no Oscar in his future I can tell you that for nothing.

"Oh that is weird that her day rate is higher than yours. Perhaps you should go and speak to [account lead] and ask him why that is."

Uh-huh, yeah right, it's a BIG mystery what's going on here. Could it be that she is paid a higher salary for less responsibility than I have? Hmmmm, let me ponder that for a second!!! Um YES, I think that may well be the case.

I've no beef*** with the person in question, I like her a lot and fair play to her for negotiating a better salary, but the unjustness of the situation is maddening. I don't know, maybe I should just cut my losses and leave for pastures new.

*Actually it’s no big mystery at all. Truth be told I’m feeling somewhat disillusioned by my chosen career path and fantasize about winning the lottery on a regular basis. I’m just not feeling the love anymore and I’m not convinced that this is the career for me and well, the jobs I am being approached about are somewhat senior and I just don’t know that I want to go somewhere new and take on the responsibility of generating revenue and motivating a team when I can barely drag my own sorry carcass through the week. The truth is that the people I work with and the comfort factor of knowing how things are done at my current job are a big reason why I stay, but the salary is fast becoming a dealbreaker!!

**My crush on the Strategy Hottie has waned since finding out from Anna that he has a girlfriend. Thanks Anna for almost extinguishing the small flame of hope I had, I really appreciate it ;-) I would have said completely extinguishing, but then I almost collided with him outside the lifts today and my stomach flipped so violently I almost vomited. How attractive THAT would have been!!

***That's such an odd turn of phrase don't you find??


Anonymous said...

Dear Fish,
Is great to read your post after the gap. Do write more often.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Thanks Anonymous that's nice to hear, I am going to try my best to post most often. Cheers, Fish

Anonymous said...


Know where you are coming from. Working long hours fir zero thanks plus weekends. And what for? Early grave? I know where I work the hours and stress levels are seriously effecting my health. Also motivating the team is v hard if you are not fired u yourself.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Sorry to hear that Anon, I hope the situation improves for you soon. Look after yourself. They will take everything they can from you, don't let them have your health too!!! Resist!!

Kitty said...

Ah...this sounds very much like the last office where I worked. The newest employee was always the center of attention for a while, as those quieter loyal hardworking employees were considered 'chopped liver'. I hated it!

It was a huge shocker to then change to an office where seniority ruled. So I went from one place where I was chopped liver to another place where I felt like chopped liver! Lol.

After a couple years at this office, however, I finally feel accepted and validated for my own merits. In the long run, valuing loyalty and seniority is a good trait for an employer. It ensures the employer that the work will be consistent and of high quality.

I strongly urge you to change offices, if only to find a decent place that respects you and pays you your worth. Business is picking up, esp. in NY, and I don't think you will lose anything by looking.

You've hung in there for a loooong time. I'm quite amazed, really. Hugs.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Kitty,

Generally speaking I don't hate where I work, I love the people I work with, the work is fine, I just hate the unfairness of the salary situation and while I am thinking of moving on, I suspect your situation may be slightly different from mine in that I assume that regardless of where you are working you still know that you want to be an architect, whereas I am no longer so sure that I want to be following my career path, so I don't want to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire just now, especially when a move would be into a senior role where I would be expected to be build business and motivate staff and I have a hard enough time motivating myself at the moment, so I'd rather take the time to work out what I want to do.

Kitty said...

actually Fish, I've struggled with my career choice for years! lol.

In talking to coworkers along the way, I've discovered that such feelings are not unusual. I am actually more surprised to find those who are fully committed to their chosen path.

Anyway, hope you are enjoying the wonderful spring weather we're having!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

That's interesting that you've struggled Kitty. I guess I am just not at the stage where I am willing to give myself over to accept it. One friend of mine talks about how she has 'made peace' with her job, but my job and I, we are still fighting ;-)

Kitty said...

aha. Sorry to drag this out, but I feel compelled to! ;-)

Working in different fields, including signage and fashion (for a few tortured months) made a difference for me. I tried breaking away from architecture several times.

When I started at my last office, after working at a place that did branding, architecture, graphic design and signage, it was for the paycheck. Suddenly I was making a bit more than what I had as a struggling semi-creative. At that point of my life, it was nice compromise.

I think what changed me is knowing that on some level, I must be good at what I do...otherwise I wouldn't be hired, right? Taking even more pride in my work helped. And so I succumbed, finally.

Perhaps there's something related to what you do that you could pursue, rather than the manager role?

I highly recommend Oprah's podcasts with Markus Buckingham, called 'Taking Control of Your Career'. Just google and it'll come up. Eight sessions about how to better your current work situation.

I also highly recommend 'The Power of Now' and Oprah's podcasts with Eckhart Tolle. (I'm not a total Oprah freak, lol, but these were good for me). Tolle talks about finding purpose in one's life.

Purpose can be very simple. Oh, and enjoying each present moment, because that's what we only have. That too. ;-)

Amel said...

Sorry to hear about the low pay and that you wonder about your career path. Hope you find your way...