The Dreaded Regime Change

It's bound to happen sooner or later. One day, out of the blue, the ECD at your company will quit or get fired. Suddenly all that time you spent proving yourself and establishing your reputation will be vaporized. All those privileges you enjoyed will disappear overnight.

The new ECD will naturally bring in his own people, as they always do. And those longtime employees (the “legacy” people) will become marginalized, no matter how talented they are. 

It’s interesting how different employees react in different ways. Some begin brown-nosing the new ECD right away. Some just walk around grumbling and complaining. Some get offended and submit complaints to HR. Some hide quietly in their cubes. And a few people simply quit. 

Everyone that stays must sit and watch the new hires come in and get the juicy projects and promotions. It’s an incredibly awkward and frustrating time, to say the least.

I'm pretty sure the same thing happened in Greek and Roman times. I can almost see the new general or senator coming to power, quickly bringing in his cronies while all the legacy people walk around in their togas, pissing and moaning. 

If you’ve been with a company for a long time, soldiering in the trenches and earning your keep, then suddenly this happens to you, what can you do? Well, you only have three options. Accept it, resist it or quit.

If you decide to accept it, you’ll likely be given the least interesting projects and you’ll probably become embittered. If you decide to resist it, you’ll have to work nights and weekends to prove yourself all over again to impress the new ECD. If you quit, you’ll have to search for a new job. So each of these options can be a strain.

Look at it this way: there will be times when you’re on the other side of the equation. You’ll get a call from a former boss who wants to hire you. So you’ll accept the offer and now you’re the crony. Personally, I’ve experienced both sides and it really gives you perspective. I’ve always tried to integrate into a new position as much as possible and make friends with the longtime employees. I hate being despised just because I’m new.

Occasionally, surprisingly, a new ECD will not bring in his own people. He’ll get to know the existing people and discover their individual strengths. Perhaps because he knows the problem is rarely with the employees, it’s with the leadership and vision. So changing the face of the entire creative department isn't always necessary. I'm always impressed by those ECD’s. The ones who make department speeches and learn people’s names.

Then again, sometimes an agency needs to clear some dead wood and bring in fresh blood. I’ve seen it transform the work for the better. 

The point is, it’s not worth crying over. Just deal with it, you’ll survive. Life’s a journey. Just chalk it up to experience.

A final word of caution to those who see themselves become marginalized: if you just take it, you’ll likely lose respect, whereas people who quit in protest (assuming they’re not in agreement with the new leadership) are likely to gain respect. Why? Because they refused to compromise and be relegated to second class citizens.