B&T Poll reveals agency staff stuck in a rut

B&T Poll reveals agency staff stuck in a rut
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What best describes you?

A majority of adland feel that they’re stuck in their current role and not sure how to progress in their career.   

Over 500 people took part in B&T’s online poll, which asked ‘Are you happy with your career progression at your agency?’

The results showed that just 24% of respondents said “Yes, I’m where I want to be”, while 58% said “No, I feel stuck and am not sure how to move up”. The remaining 18% said “Not yet, but my employer is supportive and I am planning my next move”.

“It’s a concern that people are feeling stuck,” Margaret Zabel, Communications Council CEO, told B&T.

“If you're just focued on moving up you’ll always be disappointed, because there are less and less roles out there. I think the question should be more around whether people feel that they’re learning and developing in their role. If people feel stuck that tells me that this may not be happening, which is a concern,” she added.

Zabel thinks there needs to be a bit of reframing done for staff by agency management to find out why they feel they’re not achieving in their role in terms of career development, while she also pointed out that people can be impatient early on in their careers, not spending enough time focusing on the experience they’re gathering in the role and on the results they're delivering.

She also believes that there’s an issue around proper management training, particularly for young managers parachuted in to senior positions but not yet equipped to deal with certain problems.  

"There are a lot of young managers in this industry, with not a lot of focus on their professional development," said Zabel.

“First time leaders are at a very high risk of failing. They really do need proper training because a lot of what they do is not learnt skills, such as how manage people and how to anticipate issues. They often don’t have the self-awareness of their own impact on people. So at the early stage, it’s important to have leadership training for them about how to help staff."

Adam Ferrier, founder & global head of behavioural science at Naked Communications, who said he wasn’t surprised that over 50% of respondents feel stuck, believes most agencies around town still have an arcane primed structure.

"In creative and media agencies there are lots of juniors managed by progressively fewer seniors,” said Ferrier. “A head hours business model means getting lots of cheap people to do lots of the work with a margin on top.

"Therefore as people get more experienced there is nowhere for them to go or grow. This will continue to be an issue until different business models within agencies are developed that don't rely so much on the head hours charge out model.”

Anthony Gregorio, group CEO of Havas Australia, said that he wasn’t that surprised by the poll result, stating that the fact some 42% know exactly where they are going can be viewed as a “pretty good result”.  

“I bet big corporates would dream of a result like that,” he said. 

Gregorio added that any good agency understands that its people are the crucial difference between doing well and not.  “Any business that doesn't manage their people well is heading for disaster,” he said, adding that “the reality is some agencies do a better job than others”.

Elissa Good-Omozusi, GroupM’s chief HR & talent officer, said that if agencies are to stem the high churn within the industry, they must now – more than ever – pay constant attention to career paths of their key employees and keep illustrating the growth opportunities available to them.

“And if agencies are part of a global network like us – how we can help these employees navigate their career path across our worldwide operations,” said Good-Omozusi.

Feeling stuck in your role at your agency and not sure how to move up or your next move? Why not contact us (anonymously or otherwise) and tell us your story. You can email jessica.kennedy@cirrusmedia.com.au

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