The title of the 16th century painting by Pieter Bruegel, the blind leading the blind, is a spot-on metaphor for much of what we see around us these days.
If you follow vacancy ads in the marketing communications’ sector, you will notice that the average experience required hardly ever exceeds 3 years. It is a sector that thrives on the energy of a high-flying young workforce. But are the newcomers provided with a flight plan or are they left on their own to fly blind?
For obvious reasons, the MARCOM industry was always on the lookout for young hungry creatives. However, and up until a few years back, the stipulation of 1-3 years of experience was never there in such frequency in the vacancy ads.
In the new realm, freshness is a “thing”; the ready rationale is the need for digital natives who just so happen to be quite easy on the pocket. To this point, it all sounds like it’s the formula for a relevant and sustainable business operation. In comes the missing part of the formula: training and development.
Up until about a decade ago, newcomers had a chance to learn from older hands. Instead of mentoring, the new joiners are now given quick inductions that are in no way more sophisticated than the orientation provided to freshmen in college. And next, they’re off to the production line. This swim-or-sink approach has become the new normal.
The route takes on a bitter twist; the employer starts asking those who stayed afloat to lead. This basically means they should start coming up with proactive initiatives, manage quality, build rapport with clients, etc. From there on, it all becomes a hit or miss operation. And in that scenario, the cost of mistakes and missed opportunities sometimes balances off what the employer saved in salaries and training.
The MARCOM industry has always been, and will most likely remain, the field of teamwork. And what makes a team work is the range of experiences – hint: that’s why a team has a coach. Convincing rookies that they can all wear a captain’s badge will not be bringing home a trophy anytime soon. Training and development are not only the right thing to do but are also the right of those you employ.
A prominent CEO in the UAE recently claimed that a marketer with more than 3 years’ experience was old news. This from the same guy who also publicly wondered whether 95% of the staff in his mega business would be relevant in 2 years’ time. Even with eyes shut, it’s hard to swallow this as good advice; the core business of this guy is constructing buildings that take more than that number of years to complete.