Magazine article Management Today

What's Your Problem?

Magazine article Management Today

What's Your Problem?

Article excerpt

If there's no spontaneous demand for your opinions and your presence, I suggest you tiptoe quietly away.

I'm 75 and still work four days a week as a partner at an advertising agency. I've always loved my job but I've started to feel that the younger partners think I'm 'past it'. They're always making jokes about me retiring to the golf course and quips about my age. Clients still respect me but I'm afraid my colleagues don't. Have you experienced ageism at all? Any advice on how to handle it?

You must be the only 75-year-old still employed by an advertising agency. According to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, the agency trade body, the average age of employees in UK agencies is under 35.

You say that clients still respect you and I'm sure they do.

But for what, I wonder? Is it the kind of respect they would accord a Chelsea Pensioner, or do they respect your advice? Because that's the vital distinction - and one you need to be absolutely clear about.

Establishing which isn't difficult: it just requires an open mind, a certain amount of courage - and a willingness to accept the unpalatable.

Ask yourself these questions. When was the last time: ... a client meeting was rearranged because you couldn't make it? ... your partners insisted you were part of a new business pitch? ... a client asked you for your private opinion about an advertising matter? These answers will tell you all you need to know.

If people in the agency and their clients still want to know what you think, and if they take your opinion into account before deciding on action, that's all that matters. Forget the jokes; 20-year-olds often feel uncomfortable working with colleagues as old as their grandparents and make jokes to lessen their discomfort.

But if there's no spontaneous demand for your opinions and your presence, I suggest you tiptoe quietly away.

- I've spent the past three weeks slogging over a big pitch. My boss and I presented it to the client, and we won the contract. Now I just feel utterly deflated that my boss didn't so much as say thank you to me, even though he was well aware of the late nights I put in. I've lost motivation. Any advice?

When feeling as incensed and as deflated as you do because of the behaviour of others, it's nearly always worth trying to work out what motivated that behaviour.

On the face of it, your boss's total failure to acknowledge your contribution seems extremely odd. …

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