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Has there ever been a time where you were on a client call or in a meeting and you disagreed with what a senior-level colleague was advising the client on? Raise your hand because you know you’ve felt this way on more than one occassion.
Whether it’s getting a placement in The New York Times or receiving a client shout out in an e-mail, it’s easy for junior staff that have excelled early in their careers to develop a certain confidence and mild arrogance, and as a result, think they have the right answers for every matter. So when you hear something a manager or colleague advises a client on and you disagree with their view, does it mean they are wrong and you are right, or vice versa?
There’s a few ways of looking at this. For one thing, it depends on the subject matter in which you have the disagreement. If it’s about a pitch or press release and a client is wondering just how much coverage to expect or if that particular angle can work, while a senior-level manager has the experience to properly advise the client, we can’t ignore the fact that junior staff is on the frontlines with reporters every day and can also add a credible perspective to this discussion. We all know that the media landscape is continually changing, and senior and junior staff should work together and agree on recommendations in order to bring the best counsel to the client.
However, if it’s overall strategy or planning for the coming year in which you disagree, you might be wise to sit back and take everything in. While junior staff do get to participate in client calls and have a great feel for what the media wants, they don’t have the experience that is often required to counsel a client. It’s easy to think about what might work now without thinking about the bigger picture. I know, I’ve done it.
The moral of the story is, we would all be wise to take a step back at times and listen, take in all we can from those around us, and embrace the learning that we’re able to consume on a daily basis from all of our colleagues, regardless of title. And while it can definitely be intimidating to speak up to your boss(es), especially when you disagree with them on an issue, they will (or should) admire you if you make time to sit down with them one-on-one to discuss client strategy, why they make some of the decisions they make, etc. If you don’t ever speak up, then you may never learn as much as you could. So be smart about how you go about it, and don’t be scared to talk your boss once in a while in an effort to learn from them.