Don’t move, improve

“Should I move position?”, was a question that came up a lot when I was performing my duties as a mentor at a recent IPA event. Agency staff from across our industry wanted to know if they’d be better off in another workplace and were under the impression they could earn more elsewhere or get promoted more quickly by moving.

As someone who has just hit their twelfth anniversary at the same agency, this is a subject I feel quite passionate about. It makes me frustrated that people assume moving to another agency or organisation will somehow mean more money or responsibility, without losing any of the equity and relationships built up in their current position.

Obviously, there will be circumstances where you should absolutely move on (if your current working environment is making you unhappy, or you don’t get on with your boss for example). But many workplace issues can and should be flagged with your HR team, not simply swept under the carpet by leaving.

My view on the subject can be summed up by the old house renovation line ‘Don’t Move, Improve’. If you’re thinking of leaving anyway, what have you got to lose by trying to change your current situation? Have you genuinely tried to drive some change internally, pushed for more responsibility, or an opportunity to prove yourself and get a longed-for promotion?

It’s not the easiest thing to do when you no longer want to be seen as ‘the intern’ or ‘the grad’ to step up, grow up, and demand more responsibility. But I genuinely think you are more likely to be given the best opportunities in a company where you have built up respect and esteem from hard work over time. No agency wants good people to leave. If you are wondering whether you should stay or go, here is some advice:

Speak to your manager Are you clear on the objectives you need to hit to take the next step? Take the lead, don’t sit around and wait to be told what to do.

Ask yourself, what is it that you don’t like about your current role? Is it a person you have a difficult relationship with? Get advice from a neutral party if so. There are plenty of online resources for dealing with difficult people, 6.5million results on Google in fact. It may just be that you are different ‘types’ and you can learn to improve your relationship with the right strategy.

Create the culture you want Building a great place to work is everyone’s responsibility. New business roles in particular work with every part of an agency and the new business team at Karmarama really helps drive the internal culture. Try to make your agency a better place to work than it would have been without you. Of course, not every agency will suit everyone, but at least try to improve things before you decide if it’s the right fit or not for you.

If there is training on offer, take it on and prioritise actually turning up for it (there is a worrying trend for people skipping their day for paid training). Meet your peers across the industry and learn what they are doing and bring back the best bits to your agency. Join industry groups and events, including IPA 44 Club, Bloom, WACL and NABS events and industry-wide challenges.

At least then you will have built up a network, experiences and skills that will help you take the next step – either within your current agency, or if you finally decide to jump, somewhere else. 

 Hannah Matthews is Managing Partner at Karmarama

Last updated 21 January 2022