The more I grow the business, the more I’m exposed to new business owners and entrepreneurs. This exposure has meant that I can identify sociopaths easily and quickly. And to be frank, there are MANY in this industry.
A good manager, and business owner, understands what motivates their employees and uses this to get you to perform to the best of your ability for the betterment of the staff member.
A sociopathic manager, or business owner, will understand what motivates (or frightens) you and use this to get you to perform to the best of your ability for the company, alone.
Both are a manipulation, so what is the difference between the two? The first has, at its core an understanding of your value, and the value you add to the business, it is never used against you in an emotional sense, it never makes you feel guilty or inadequate, at its core it wants YOU to achieve the best you can. The second has at its core an intrinsic need to control, your value in the business is understood but your performance is solely for the benefit of the business and not to reach your potential. The use of emotional manipulation to make you feel inadequate and guilty are the mainframe of getting you to perform.
Sociopathic managers have superficial charm and are very intelligent (it’s usually what makes them such good business people). They often show poor judgment, like shouting at you in front of the whole office or blaming you for missed deadlines in front of clients. The biggest downfall of the sociopathic manager is their inability to LEARN, which makes a long-term career with them almost impossible.
This leads me to why so many traditional agencies employ these types of managers. They’re good business people, they use their skills to sell, and their superficial charm makes them great sales people and really good at pitching for new business. In the same breath, it makes them the worst people to work for. They’re the crazy creative directors who hurl abuse at you in an open office or physically throw things. They’re the manager who you think is your friend (remember the superficial charm) but when there is an issue they ignore you and make you anxious instead of confronting you, see control above.
For so many years in agency, I actually felt as though the bosses were my parents and I was five years old. Terrified to step outside the line, terrified to disappoint, terrified to be seen as disloyal. I threw work colleagues under the bus to appease bosses, I did things completely out of character. After a while, trying to keep up with all the lies and manipulations became tiresome. I became pregnant and it was at that point I became a grown-up (at 29 years old) after 8 years in the industry.
This crazy behaviour is no longer accepted, especially among millennials and young black professionals. In my career I have seen at least 5 young black professionals walk into the office, put their shit on their desks and literally say “peace out”. Every time this happened I was like, “I wish I had the balls to do that”. To stand up for myself and speak my mind. But unfortunately I could never verbalise my opinions, I was a 5-year-old child, 4 years into a deep manipulation cycle, where would I go?
It is these people, the talented millennials and black professionals, who are setting the standard for how agency employees should be treated. They are willing to give you their all but they will not stand for abuse!
Just as in my previous blog I mention that traditional agencies will not attract the top talented women, they will also not attract the young talent of South Africa. Taking them one step closer to edge of becoming obsolete. Long live advertising – just not in current state.