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.


Focus on the Data that Brings the Greatest ROI

Let’s use the example of information you can gather to fill in the column on “Assessments and Talent Management” for the rubric on the previous blog. Most companies focus on data that does not bring comparatively strong ROI. If you analyze the information above you will see the first thing a manager needs to know about candidates, is whether or not they match the job description, and if they can bring to you a mentality needed for excellence. While this appears to be somewhat elementary, you can see roughly half of marketing managers are looking for what they need in a employee. When a manager uncovers a good match, he/she will immediately settle the competency questions, and allow themselves their first look into the employee’s character.

As you move down the chart you can see that interest indexes are the second-most effective tools available. A employee’s interests provide a “heads up” to the marketing manager so they can identify possible competencies that the employee may possess. If there is an interest in aligned skills the employee needs to be directed toward learning or mentoring opportunities that will allow them to expand a knowledge base into those areas.

For example, if you have a employee that is very objective, you do not want to focus them on development of creative or conceptual marketing aspects. They are much more suited for research and data analysis. If you do not understand the mental priorities of how employees approach issues, you will never be able to maximize their potential.

The third-most effective aid is an abilities indicator. Most psychometricians believe they will become more widely used in the future as more leaders understand the value in the information they provide. These ability indicators come in two forms – competencies and capacities.

You will find with each that about 23-25 different skill sets can be measured. Competencies, such as problem solving, self-management, resiliency and interpersonal skills, provide information on where the individual has attained certain levels of competence. Both intra-personal and interpersonal skills are measured and graded as follows:

1. Well-developed

2. Developed

3. Moderately developed

4. Needs development

Competency measurement helps you identify current skill levels. Here is an example of how they can be illustrated (collectively) based in the individual’s scores:



Capacities, on the other hand, identify the range of capacity an individual has in a certain area. They illustrate where a person has the aptitude to perform. It is not designed to measure specifically where the person is right now or where they will perform each and every time – it’s just where they have an ability to grow and develop. The most important thing for you to remember is that this tool can alert you to the bright and upcoming stars of the future.

Capacities must be developed, not simply assigned. You must identify how the person learns best and then focus their attention on growth in a manner that will expand the capacities, not confuse them. Capacities are measured and compared to national norms (individually).

The most commonly used tools by companies are personality assessments, which only provide 39% effectiveness according to Personnel Psychology Magazine. They are frequently used by organizations who want to help employees better communicate, and see if they can find something in common with their peers. They are common as part of a training that exposes the department or organization to behavioral-type profiles. The sessions are designed to tell you about yourself, and show you a graphic representation to help you compare yourself to others.

What they normally do NOT do is help you see how the information can be used on a daily basis – there is no application. Organizational leaders have learned that personality profiles can be helpful if used properly, perhaps as a benchmark for specific jobs.

(According to surveys, 80% of employees have completed personality profiles.)

Use Your Team's Capacity, Character and Competencies to Make Up for Budget Cuts


Increasing individual capacity without much additional funding

What many managers and employees miss is that there is a wealth of free training and information. All you have to do is do a search. For example, if you are considering formal education for your marketing department, you can inquire with the following 20 institutions about opportunities to improve your education, at no cost:

  • Online Education Database
  • Harvard and MIT (joint effort)
  • Open Culture
  • University of California at Berkeley
  • University of California at Irvine
  • Tufts University
  • Stanford University
  • Yale University
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • University of Washington
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • New York University
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Gresham College
  • Open University
  • Utah Valley State College
  • Utah State University
  • Kutztown University
  • University of Southern Queensland

If you, or your employees, enjoy learning by being involved with an educational association, there are dozens of associations that require little expense, and can bring many best practice concepts to the organization. Based on the area of expertise, the following associations can help build capacity through “osmosis.”

  • E-marketing Association
  • Association of Marketing
  • American Marketing Association
  • National e-tailing and Mailing Organization of America
  • Business Marketing Association
  • Internet Marketing Association
  • Direct Marketing Association
  • Promotion Marketing Association
  • Word of Mouth Marketing Association
  • Academy of Marketing
  • Academy of Marketing Science
  • Web Marketing Association
  • Association for International Product Management
  • Interactive Marketing Association

What normal research cannot contribute is your level of expertise. There is always collaboration with local associations, or other trade, business or professional groups. Your employees just need to know where to look, and you can direct them.

We have discussed the importance of looking at your employees as your greatest asset. We have also discussed the fact that you are a key to developing their capacity, and building new competencies into their portfolio. This is the top priority to your employees. They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Only you can lead and inspire them.

However, you cannot lead and inspire someone that you know nothing about. As a leader, you have to manage tasks, but you must also inspire your employees to perform.

Using Competency, Character and Capacity to offset a decreased budget and focus on ROI

Most marketing departments operate under constant pressure to prove value. They remain under leadership’s microscope for results, and the minute they are perceived to not do so, they get the budget ax. This approach is counterproductive and can damage department morale.

Here is a quote from a 2012 study by the Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies at Cornell University:

“… practices that emphasize short-term performance such as intensive performance monitoring and commission-based pay— lead to higher rates of quits, dismissals, and total turnover.”

Bill Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett Packard, once said, “You cannot manage what you cannot measure.”

This notion laid the foundation for programs, such as Total Quality Management, to the SMART process mentioned earlier in this book. In short, if you want to get something done, you must develop an approach that can be mapped out and measured in incremental steps, so you have a basis for direction, timeliness and success.

Here is a human capital/talent management example from a 2012 Wall Street Journal article, “Meet the New Boss: Big Data, Companies trade in hunch-based hiring for computer modeling:”

“When looking for workers to staff its call centers, Xerox Corp. used to pay lots of attention to applicants who had done the job before. Then, a computer program told the printer and outsourcing company that experience doesn't matter. . .  For more and more companies, the hiring boss is an algorithm. The factors they consider are different than what applicants have come to expect. Jobs that were once filled on the basis of work history and interviews are left to personality tests and data analysis, as employers aim for more than just a hunch that a person will do the job well. Under pressure to cut costs and boost productivity, employers are trying to predict specific outcomes, such as whether a prospective hire will quit too soon, file disability claims or steal.”

Regardless of how much data you’ve garnered about your employees, you must start working with the tools you have. The recommendations below begin with the assumption that you have no data backlog (A), ending with you having sufficient data to make a well-educated decision (J), about managing and developing the 4Cs in each of your employees.

Start with these options:

    1. Use each individual’s resume (when they were hired) as an inventory checklist of skills and/or training they have completed for competency development.

    2. Add additional skills and data from interviews and meetings that can provide insight into the 4Cs.

    3. Add the skill sets acquired and/or developed through training while in their present (and past) positions.

    4. Semi-annual and annual review analysis to identify competence, character and chemistry progression during employment.

    5. Any data gathered on skills assessments at the time of hiring or during tenure that will assist in measuring competencies.

    6. Any data gathered on interests or ability assessments at the time of hiring or during tenure that will assist in measuring capacities.

    7. Any data gathered on personality assessments at the time of hiring or during tenure that will provide insight into character, chemistry and capacity.

    8. Any data gathered from job match assessments at the time of hiring or during tenure that will assist in measuring each of the 4Cs

    9. Any data gathered their HR/Personnel file that will assist in measuring accumulated experience of knowledge gathered.

    10. Any data gathered from the corporate knowledge management system (or university) your company employs that can provide insight into additional competencies, skills, etc., gathered since the beginning of employment.

Once you have the data collected, use the rubric below to as a basis for your developmental process with each employee:


Interview or references gathered

Human resource or human capital Information

Assessments or talent mgmt. scores/insight

On the job skills, knowledge mgmt. or certifications

Competencies and skills they bring to the table

Character and past personal successes they can illustrate

Chemistry and team activities they can document

Capacity to perform short-, mid- and long-term objectives

Other comments or illustrations that provide insight

In the past, marketing managers often felt they did not have time to keep up with this information, due to heavy task demands, and the information’s seemingly unrelated nature to marketing. However, we have learned that this process is like many others – it takes an initial time investment, but can make leadership and management much more practicable.

The important thing to remember is that you can identify and quantify a significant amount of information about each employee, even if you do not have sophisticated systems in place. You just need to focus on the data that will give you the most return on investment.