Content Therapy is Managing Editor’s monthly advice column, where Paul Chaney responds to your questions about the messy dilemmas content marketers face in their work. We are (obviously) not licensed therapists.
I’m Frustrated With My Job, But Should I Quit?
Dear Content Therapist: I’m stuck between, “I need this job” and “forget this job.” I’ve been a content marketer at an agency for nearly five years. When I started it was great. Everyone got along well, and the team was in sync. Even when things were stressful, we all still pulled through. However, about a year ago, we were acquired by a larger media conglomerate, and it’s been a STRUGGLE. At first, they said that things really wouldn’t change, but that wasn’t true. I expected change to happen, but the new structures, processes and uncommunicated expectations are starting to get to me. Some of my co-workers have already jumped ship, but I’ve been hesitant, especially in today’s job market. Should I stay and continue to work through the growing pains, or should I quit and take my chances? — THE UNDECIDED MARKETER
They say change is the only constant, so it’s not surprising things changed despite a promise to the contrary. You went from what sounds like a family-oriented culture to a strict corporate culture, so of course, change occurred — and it was enough of a jolt to some of your fellow employees’ systems that they up and left.
You can, too — and it’s OK if you do.
Weigh the Pros and Cons
One way to decide is to take out a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle and list the pros of staying on one side and the cons on the other. That may sound simple, but it’s a powerful decision-making tool to help you clearly grasp both sides of the argument.
Be objective as possible, understanding that some subjectivity (and bias) will work its way into the list. For example, this new structure is definitely a con if you prefer a more familial work environment.
Assess how the changes have affected things like your job satisfaction, productivity, and overall well-being. You say that the change is taking a toll on you. If you mean emotionally, that’s serious and should weigh heavily in your decision. Other factors to consider include increased workload, uncommunicated expectations, and the impact on team dynamics.
To be fair, list as many pros as you can. For instance, does the current situation align with your career goals? Does being part of a larger organization present greater advancement opportunities? If so, that’s a plus. What about job security, employee benefits, work-life balance and company values? On which side of the line do those go?
Obviously, you may not know the answers in some cases, so it’s in your best interest to speak with your manager to get greater clarity. They may be able to provide insights, address your concerns, or offer potential solutions to improve the situation.
Know What You’re Getting Into
If, after this exercise, you decide to pursue other opportunities, research the market to see what’s available. Explore job listings, network with colleagues in your industry, and consider whether the potential benefits of a new job outweigh the risks associated with leaving your current position. Also, if possible, talk to co-workers that have left to see what their experience was like and whether leaving was worth it.
Regardless of what the list looks like, deciding to stay or go may come down to trusting your instincts. Again, your emotional well-being is of greatest concern, so don’t minimize its impact. And good luck, whatever you decide.
Give Credit Where Credit’s Due!
Dear Content Therapist: I’ve got a little problem with not getting credit for the work I’ve done. I’m a junior content marketing writer for a media agency and have been here for about a year and a half. During this time, I’ve learned, grown and even made significant contributions to many projects. But if you were to ask my boss, those contributions were his and his alone. I understand that the work we do is a collective effort, but when someone goes above and beyond, they are acknowledged — just not me. I know there are things that I still need to learn, but some acknowledgement can go a long way. I haven’t brought this up yet because I’m nervous about the reaction. Should I have this conversation with my manager, or should I simply pay my dues and move on? — OVERLOOKED CONTENT MARKETER
Your situation reminds me of Peggy Olson’s character in “Mad Men.” She was a great copywriter, but her boss, the infamous (some might say villainous) Don Draper, kept taking credit for her work. She rose through the ranks only through a dogged determination to become a senior agency member.
Of course, this isn’t the 1960s, and Don Draper isn’t your boss. Nonetheless, your situation remains the same. You have clearly and succinctly summarized your options: talk to your boss, or pack up and leave. (There’s also a third choice: do nothing. But is that really a choice at all? It doesn’t sound like it, from your perspective.)
The beauty of your situation is that neither choice is bad. Both require courage — confronting your boss or stepping out and facing an uncertain future. Both involve an element of risk and opportunity.
Let’s examine each choice in greater detail:
Choice No. 1: Meet With Your Boss
What does that entail? Before setting a time to meet, check your motivation. Why is it important for you to receive acknowledgement for your work? Is it sour grapes? (i.e., other people’s work is acknowledged, so yours should be, too)
Or is it a matter of justice — your boss doing what’s right by you?
Once you’ve clarified your motives and determined that meeting with your boss is the best course of action, approach them with respect but with fortitude. Be firm in your convictions that your work deserves acknowledgment.
Use “I” statements (e.g., “I feel my work contributes to the company’s bottom line, but I don’t receive the credit I deserve.”). Don’t point fingers or cast blame. Cite specific instances where your contributions impacted the outcome of a campaign or project. Whatever you do, don’t come across as whining, complaining or acting like a victim. That will get you nowhere. Once you’ve made your case, look confident, smile, and await their response.
Take the feedback you receive to heart. They may have a different perspective or valid reasons for not giving you credit. Express appreciation, regardless, and ask for clarification on what you can do to ensure your contributions are recognized in the future. That “attitude of gratitude” demonstrates your willingness to improve and grow.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that the meeting will go in your favor, but at least you’ve been honest about your concerns. On the other hand, your boss might appreciate your candor and recognize the error of their ways.
Choice No. 2: Move on
You could also prepare your resume and begin a job search. But who’s to say that your next job will be better regarding receiving acknowledgement or that you’ll get a less selfish boss?
Peggy Olson made a name for herself by doing exceptional work, standing up for herself, and making her voice heard. You have to admire that kind of moxie. Perhaps you should do the same. Then, if nothing changes, you can always find another job.
Disclaimer: The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for advice from a licensed mental health provider, health care provider or legal professional.