personal development

Developing Internal Support: Placing an employee on the fast track

Generic Growth Chart The key to approaching this process is to remember that you must lead your employees, not just manage their tasks. Make sure they see you are trying to help them by positioning them where they can learn and grow from others who have knowledge to share.

Remember that employees (in general) are somewhat independent and require personal attention. However, you want to make sure the attention is positive, based on their individual aspirations, and positioned so that they seem to be gaining position and stature as they build stronger industry relationships.

The primary issue you face is building your employees’ capacity. While competence is what most marketing managers must “acquire” in order to meet task demands, it is often within their reach if they knew what to look for in their people, or those from other departments.

If we acquire data and use it properly we get better long-term results. Each person wants the capacity to grow, develop and better themselves through the use of their natural abilities.

So, how do you as a leader and manager identify who and what to develop? We start with the theme established in January. As we learned at that time, jobs are easier to measure than people – they do not carry the “human factor,” and can be broken down into critical job elements and tasks.

If you are trying to build your department, the first step is to perform a work environment study (WES), or benchmark the behaviors and mindsets necessary to perform the tasks of every position in the department. You will want at least 4-5 people providing input.

The second step is to identify future needs that are going to require attention. Complete your studies or benchmarks on those prior to filling the position. Establish what is necessary for success in that position, so there is no doubt what you are looking for.

Once the process is complete, the third step is to take the data you have on your present employees and see how closely aligned they are to the scores needed for the position. If you have someone in the department at a junior level who possesses those attributes, they can be moved into the new position after training a replacement, saving the company money and illustrating capacity development in the process.

If you are solely trying to develop the capacities of each employee in your department you will want to slightly modify the process. You must always start with your work environment studies or job benchmarks to identify the requirements of the present positions. Your new second step will be to take the data and compare it to the profile of the individual performing the task.

You should see a fair amount of similarities. If you do not see similarities, you are possibly having challenges with this employee. In most cases you will see some variances that will provide you with insight as to why they struggle with certain tasks. If you do find this to be the case you have several options:

  1. Move the employee into a position that is more congruent with their behaviors and mindset.
  2. Shift some responsibilities to another employee who has a better ability to handle what will be challenging for this employee. Whatever is divested, can be replaced with other responsibilities.
  3. Institute direction and focus (perhaps a personal developmental plan) on learning the skill sets needed to enhance their present behaviors and mindsets through either internal or external developmental resources.
  4. Provide or be a coach/mentor/peer to assist the individual in acquiring the appropriate mindsets needed for their present responsibilities or future roles.

Developing the synergy and internal support for “fast-tracking” each employee

Building the 4Cs into your department can occur more efficiently than you might believe. Depending on the size of your organization, integration can happen within several weeks to a few months. You may want to have a corporate executive introduce the concept to your team and then you can explain the steps that will be occurring as the process is implemented.

During this communication you want team members to understand the purpose and reasoning behind this new focus – their well-being, growth and development as well as excellence within the department.

This program does not need to be expensive. You may already have the data you need, but just may not be aware of it. Even if you have to spend money, in the long run, you may end up saving the company many times more than the investment. Here is your outline to fast-tracking your department:

  1. Meet with HR and identify any pertinent data gathered during the hiring and developmental processes.
  2. Use your personal files, semi-annual and/or annual review information to complete as many other aspects of the matrix as possible.
  3. Identify psychometric tools that will quantify data that is missing from any or all of the 4Cs. If you cannot afford any investment at all, there are a myriad of free assessments on the Internet that may help. Even if you have no data, some of the best tools available are very reasonably priced at $200-$400.
  4. Assess the accumulated data and with it determine what changes need to be made in departmental or task alignment. Develop your (departmental) strategic plan.
  5. Assess the accumulated data on each employee and determine what path will be appropriate for their management and development. With their help develop a strategic plan for their progress.


Develop Individual Desire for Growth


"What about me?”

Employees in companies of all sizes see a limited opportunity for growth and development. They do not perceive a prosperous future in their present role, and consequently are not fully “engaged” in the position, or the organization.

The exception comes from those individuals who are completely satisfied, want nothing more from the organization, and have no future professional aspirations beyond their current positions. This is not likely, knowing the average employee’s makeup.

Most employees indicate they were asked to wear multiple hats, work in negative environments, take direction from less-than-encouraging bosses, and realize they are likely picking up the slack for another incompetent employee.

Likewise, they were promised little or no future growth opportunities for their efforts. The top issue reported by employees was engagement, and their biggest complaint was, “There is not a structured career or developmental path for employees.”

If you had to work within this model, what is the motivation to perform? While not written into a typical job description, leading and developing is part of the marketing manager’s job description – to engage his employees, and not just focus on completion of the next task.

The key is to understand how a employee views engagement as well as how it impacts the competencies a manager needs. Employees have active minds, therefore one issue impacts the other. Motivation initiates competency development, which is apparently in short supply, according to our respondents.

Today’s employee expects more than just a job and paycheck. They want to improve both personally and professionally, and they expect the company to play an integral part in that development. Consider this study from the University of Continuing Education Association Survey (2008), which says:

“The #1 retention factor listed by best performing employees under the age of 30 was the opportunity to develop new skills through training.”

Employees are no different than other employees in their desire for personal growth. They see future success best when there is engagement with you and their position in the organization. They want to know their efforts will result in opportunity. When the incentives that mean the most are missing, morale and performance suffers.

As a manager, you can motivate your employees by showing them how they can develop opportunity for the future – their future. Understanding their needs will provide you with the departmental skills the organization needs to thrive.

Conversely, a lack of employee engagement will inhibit your department’s success. Recent studies prove that if you engage your employees, you will end up with a happier, more content employee, as well as one that contributes a significant ROI. Here are just a few examples:

“Research has clearly and consistently proved the direct link between employee engagement, customer satisfaction and revenue growth” - Harvard Business Review, 2000

Engaged employees are more profitable, more customer focused, safer, and more likely to withstand temptations to leave. Many have long suspected the connection between an employee’s level of engagement and the level and quality of his or her performance. Or research has laid the matter to rest.” - Gallup, 2009

Data illustrates that share prices of firms with highly engaged employees increased an average of 16% in 2004, compared with an industry standard of 6%. Stock prices of companies with high morale outperformed similar companies in the same industries by more than 2½ to 1 during 2004, and the stock prices of companies with low morale lagged behind their industry competitors by almost 5 to 1. - The Enthusiastic Employee, Dr. David Sirota

As a marketing manager, the unwritten part of your job description is to develop those you manage. Rarely will you find this aspect in writing, but it remains the difference between managing and leading. Managers most often focus on tasks, while leaders inspire employees to achieve and improve.


Finding (and Avoiding) Problems in Departmental Chemistry


What can go wrong with departmental chemistry?

We have discussed the unique personality of the “average” employee. As we consider these characteristics, we must note there are many things that can go awry in a department full of employees, especially if they resemble the profile we have developed. Since many employees fit this mold, we will address some of the challenges their personalities will present in a department full of similar people.

As a manager you can quickly address some of these difficulties once you recognize them with the recommendations provided below. Prior to considering a recommendation, realize they may add time to the process, but will keep the group working together as a stronger team.

For every asset there is a liability. What makes a employee good can also create stress. Managers make sure tasks are done – leaders optimize and inspire their people to achieve the goals in front of them individually and collectively. Inspiration and motivation is what makes for good departmental chemistry.

In addition to being a marketing manager, you must also be a people expert. There are a myriad of books you can read, but try to focus on understanding behaviors and values. If you understand how and why a employee behaves in a certain manner, you will be able to inspire them and make them feel as if they are crucial parts of your team.

Transforming individual needs into support and encouragement for others

We’ve already established the fact that employees are an independent group of people who don’t mind being a part of something bigger, but who do need to carve out their own personal space and identity, and to be valued for such uniqueness.

Your job is to take what you have learned in the past few pages and translate it into something other than just a work experience. Your job is to make it into an opportunity for them to build relationships with other employees who can help them grow and develop. You can do this in many different ways, but developing a mentality is something that leaders do well.

Here are some examples of how a leader will create the right environment to improve departmental chemistry:

  • They’ve learned by experience in a department where goals and responsibilities are clearly defined, the chemistry between the team members grows exponentially. If the lines are fuzzy, there is always the possibility that people will feel slighted or ousted.

  • We go on marketing retreats, we collaborate on a weekly basis and we do things outside of work.

  • Trust and confidence is a must as it brings out the best in employees. Mistakes are quickly remedied and learned from without a lot of judgment so work can improve going forward.

  • Collaboration across global and departmental borders helps us achieve a common goal and/or project outcome.

  • We believe in information sharing, experience disclosure as well as apportioning great ideas. When people respect and like each other their collaboration and production levels skyrocket.

  • We live and breathe as a team. The more we work together the bigger the impact. We will even work late when necessary, having fun and getting along together, in and out of work.

  • We do weekly team activities like building each other’s business plans.

  • When crises strike, marketing comes together and exceeds expectations meeting a big deadline.

  • Willingness to ask what's needed and offer suggestions on unmet desires as possibilities.

  • The ability to work together with great chemistry allows for our department to be open to each other’s ideas and to feed off of each other to create the best possible marketing campaign.

  • Most in our department have a great sense of humor and are more concerned with the end result - not whether their name is on it.

  • We cover for each other if anybody is on leave or traveling and support each other in crises as they arise.

  • When people like each other they work well together, when priorities are set and consistent, people’s performance is at its peak.

  • We are in a high-volume environment and getting along/being in sync is critical. I spend a lot of time building team, creating the creative platform for performance. We all understand the expectations, quality needed, resources available and goals and thus can execute effectively.

These are just a few ideas for you to consider. They are not all-encompassing. Ultimately, you will have to identify what will motivate your group, based on their unique energies.

Inspiring and motivating self-focused individuals is not always possible, unless you have some help. This is why departmental chemistry must come from more than just a leader. It is an environment that must be created, not just managed. It takes employees who are willing to adapt as customer needs change.

This environment will allow you to deal with inevitable change, without it being “an imposition.” And, it will allow you take those self-focused individuals and have them contribute to their peers’ success.

Taking what they have in common and using it for THEIR team

What do employees have in common, if one is a content specialist and the other is a social media expert? The initial answer is likely, “not much.” However, you need to find common ground, despite differences in role, competency, character, behavior and mindset.

The larger your department, the more of a challenge it may be for you to find that common ground. If you do not find a way to help your team to embrace such diversity you will end up managing a group of individuals, and never have a team that works together.

The longer this mentality persists, the more often you will be trying to replace employees who have found a more suitable place to use their competencies. Where is the common ground?

If nothing else, a CMO or marketing manager must create, clarify and communicate an image. You must inspire others to want what you are promoting, to a higher level of credibility or visibility. You are the department of concept and communication. If nothing else, every member of your department owns a piece of this objective.

Each employee knows how to do this, from a different perspective. Each approach will be different, but each can be effective, given the proper circumstances. Your job is to communicate how one compliments, not replaces, the other, and how the goal cannot be accomplished without each employee contributing his or her piece.

So, how do you make a group of biased (to their specialties) individuals gel into a productive team? The answer lies in where there are commonalities in what they are doing.

As you look at your upcoming campaigns and projects you likely intentionally map out and plan each individual step, from beginning to end. Herein lies an opportunity to bring the group together. What is your first step? Is it research and analytics in an effort to identify buyer personas? Is it searching the Web and social media sites for competitors to make sure you can differentiate yourself from those contenders? Do you use this information to identify and refine content to make sure you have the right message? Or, do you have each specialty prepare insights and present them at a strategy session?

Obviously there are many ways to approach a campaign, and yours will be unique to your department. The key is making sure each member of the department understands the process.

When your department reaches the point of understanding each step in your campaign approach, they should be able to understand why you designed it in that manner, and how you see it as a benefit to the team. However, you must ensure they see the individual benefits, as well.

You can help them see their personal benefits in the “linking” of each aspect of the process – how one task compliments and enhances the other, especially in transition. The transition phase of moving from one step to another is a growth opportunity for every single member of the department, which helps build each of the 4Cs in the process.

Consider it this way:

  1. Each task requires either use of or further research and development of the competencies the employee brings to the table. That competency becomes openly visible and completes a step in the marketing campaign process.

  2. If that competency is done well and in a timely manner it displays the character of the individual employee and gains respect for his work and efforts. The new employee receiving the handoff has an opportunity to compliment the individual on their success. They also have a wonderful opportunity to learn more about what it took to complete that phase of the process and how it blends with what they are doing.

  3. This transition enhances the (next phase) employee’s understanding, appreciation and competency (if there is a desire). As this employee gains an appreciation for what his/her predecessor completed, chemistry is developed between the two employees, each gaining a new respect for the other and a growing knowledge of how individual aspects in the marketing process complement each other.

  4. This new-found respect generates interest in the diverse fields of marketing for the individual and motivates them to increase their capacity as a professional. As the desire for growth and development occurs they will identify new information, research and opportunities for improvement that they will share with others who have helped them. This additional information adds to the competencies of the department and takes them another step forward.

You cannot force or require your employees to like the other employees in their department, nor can you force them to mature professionally. This takes synergy, which can only occur among them, and them alone. You must inspire them to help one another; the only way they can do this is to see the connection and why they are INTERDEPENDENT, not INDEPENDENT.