The resignation letter of Kieran Allen spread across Media Land like a forest fire yesterday. I was shocked by how quickly it started trending on Twitter & by the sheer appetite people had for it.
It really was a classic example of the power of Social Media. Here we have a man who had spent a dozen years building a successful career in media having his career crippled & permanently tarnished within the space of a few hours. The scary part is that nobody knew if the allegations made were true or not, it’s even more scary that it is now irrelevant if they are true or not as the damage has been done. It was trial by social media with a swift verdict. Working as a Digital Recruiter I found myself feeling sorry for both Kieran & Greg, their careers will always be defined by THAT resignation letter.
Digital media is a booming industry, people often work long hours & working to tight deadlines, it also has some big personalities. In this environment I expect many people in the industry have let off steam by engaging in office ‘banter’ that if written down in black and white would make them wince. As a recruiter I have had many senior people in the industry tell me jokes, stories, gossip that were delivered without any malice but are not for repeating. I expect many people last night have reviewed some of the things they have said previously that today would be horrified if they were circulated around the media industry. So are we now going to have completely sanitised office environments and updated directives, I doubt it. I’m absolutely not supporting any of the accusations that were made in the email, but equally many who have commented on #Shicklegate have probably also made some comments before that could be viewed as equally incendiary.
One of the key reasons people call me looking for a new digital job is because they do not like their manager or director. Another key reason is many people in the media industry are working crazy hours, don’t feel supported & just cannot sustain the workload they have been given. It amazes me how many digital agencies don’t invest enough in supporting their current staff and work harder on keeping people happy. If your people are working regularly until late & don’t feel appreciated when they do and also don’t get help when they ask for it, I can guarantee you they will be calling someone like me. Then that agency has to replace them with someone who may not be as good, who costs more to hire, train, develop and bed into the job and who carry a recruitment fee for a cherry on top!
If someone has decided they want to leave I would certainly recommend a digital agency perform an exit interview that is not completed by the line manager or director but by an HR professional who is not emotionally involved. Someone who can explore the reasons why someone is moving so they can improve their processes, certainly when this is done consistently patterns appear that allow improvements to be made. Obviously there are also two sides to every story & when someone is moving their motivations for doing so should not be accepted as the whole truth, many will be honest, but some will have an axe to grind. But I would think by having an exit interview a lot of bad feelings could be defused to some extent & the companies could move forward with useful information about how to keep their staff in future.
Ultimately social media has shown that unsubstantiated accusations are just as powerful as substantiated ones & that within a matter of hours careers can be brought to their knees with the press of an ‘enter button’ on a keyboard. The fallout of this will be interesting to witness, especially how people change in terms of what they say and what people feel is appropriate to say in jest for example. No matter what happens I personally think it is worrying & unacceptable that a career that took many years to achieve can be harmed in such a way by unsubstantiated allegations. I also feel for Kieran because regardless of if his accusations are correct or not, he must have felt extremely stressed and under immense pressure.
If you are interested in finding out more about Digital Minds please feel free to contact me anytime, firstname.lastname@example.org you may well not be looking for a new role but just have questions about the industry, i.e. are you paid in line with counter parts in other agencies or client side roles. I’m always happy to help. If you are looking for a new role we specialise in PPC jobs, SEO jobs, Digital Planning & buying jobs, Social Media Jobs, Affiliate jobs, Business Development jobs, Mobile Jobs & many other digital roles. We also have a couple of outstanding reward schemes that can be reviewed via this link.