A career advice column from Greg Graham. Email email@example.com and put "SPARROW" in the subject line to ask a question.
Reader’s question: I am an account manager in an agency, working across three major accounts. In the past 2 years I have had three Account Directors to report to as they last less than 6 months in the role. I have been without an account director for four months now and been managing one of the accounts completely on my own. The issue is the client on that account was really critical of me and when I explained that we were short staffed because of COVID, she said that at my level of seniority I should be on top of this. I found out that without me knowing, the agency is charging me out to this client as an account director, yet I am still being paid the account manager. I did not know what to say to the client. The same salary for the past 2 years, because there has been a salary freeze. Should I join the great resignation? What is keeping me here is the terrific colleagues I work with.
I want to start by acknowledging your loyalty and the great job you are doing under challenging client circumstances over the past two years.
Unfortunately, your story is a familiar one in the industry at the moment. Many people are struggling with increased workloads and reduced resources, and agencies are simply not walking the talk when it comes to looking after their people.
Your agency charging you out as an account director and paying you for a lesser client manager role is unacceptable and you should raise this immediately with your leader/manager. You should also put it in writing to the HR or People & Culture lead, outlining your situation and clearly articulating the facts.
You have been doing the job with very little support or guidance and the agency is taking advantage of you. We have all experienced wage freezers in difficult times, but in this situation when the agency is deriving revenue from the client for your more senior role, it’s exploitation.
Be very specific in person and in writing about the client expectations and how you are managing under challenging conditions with reduced resources and on a lower paid grade.
You need to be strong, forceful and ask that your compensation be immediately reviewed to reflect your real client role and the way the agency is charging you out.
This is going to be a tough conversation, but hold your ground and stick to the facts. What you are asking is only fair and reasonable and it would be difficult for your manager to argue against it. Frame your request in a very positive and constructive manner, but you need a timetable of the actions and how and when they will be implemented.
Depending on how the situation plays out, you do need to be prepared to walk away. If the agency is not forthcoming with any compensation or salary review, you should resign immediately and join the Great Resignation. Have your letter drafted and ready to go!
The industry has a real talent shortage and there is heap of great opportunities in the marketplace. Find a brilliant agency with integrity that rewards your unwavering commitment to clients, values and respects you! Hold your head high you will definitely bounce back and thrive in a new positive agency environment.
Plus your old colleagues will still be friends and you will open yourself up to new exciting adventures in the future.
Greg“Sparrow’’Graham: Coach/Trainer/Pitch Doctor & Advisor @ The Nest Consultancy