The marketing team is at the center of any company’s growth trajectory. You need to build a solid foundation for the marketing team to grow, adjust quickly to changing markets and industry norms, and continually reach objectives.
How do you build a high-performance marketing team?
The formula isn’t a secret, but it does have to allow for the complexity and intricacies of your specific organization. However, all marketing teams have something in common and can benefit from some critical strategies in hiring, managing, and analyzing teams.
To help guide you in your company’s progress towards a high-performance marketing team is this outline of strategies, methods, and ideals.
Define Your Company Culture
Before you can build a high performing marketing team, you have to identify what that means to you and your company vision. Has your leadership team spent any time defining what culture at your organization is like?
Take some time to identify what truly matters in an ideal candidate and model employee.
Here are some questions to guide you:
- What are your core values?
- What does the vision for the future look like?
- What employee characteristics align with your organization’s mission statement?
- What key attributes do employees that thrive at your company share?
The goal of these discussions is to build a foundation for how your company operates. These core values should be referred to in every crucial decision, new hire, or termination.
Avoid falling into the common trap of creating a mission statement and then tucking it away into an employee manual, only dusting it off for new hire orientation. Refer back to those core values or mission statement frequently, and you will be less likely to stray from the solid foundation you worked so hard to build.
Just like an actual building, the solid foundation will ensure all subsequent pieces are strong.
Search for Candidates that are a Cultural Fit
Once you have defined your company culture and core values, it is time to strategically recruit, screen, and hire employees who are culturally fit.
Having an open seat to fill with work backing up can pressure companies and HR teams to rush the hiring process. Replacing an employee after dedicating comprehensive training is a much bigger problem than eliminating potentially problematic candidates in the recruiting process.
Take your time with the hiring process, and you will be rewarded with less turnover. Ultimately, the time spent identifying a quality hire will save you headaches and time wasted on the wrong person in the end.
One method of sifting through candidates is Topgrading or the newer, similar method called Who.
The goal of both methods is to find what they define as “A Players” and eliminate B or C players. The technique requires a multi-tiered screening process that eliminates the majority of candidates in the first steps.
Here is one example of how an organization structured the method to vet their candidates into four steps:
- 1. Human Resources Screening Call
- 2. In-Person HR Interview using the Topgrading or Who method
- 3. In-Person Culture Interview with Team Lead
- 4. In-Person Interview with Entire Team
This thorough four-step process ensures that only qualified and culturally aligned candidates meet with the team leader and that only truly sparkling candidates meet with the team.
While it is a longer process, this saves the marketing team time overall by only evaluating pre-screened candidates. Any red flags will appear in the human resources interviews if the proper Topgrading questions are applied.
If you would like to take it a step further, you can utilize some data-driven tools in your hiring process. For example, The Predictive Index software allows you to build behavior profiles for each position. Each role requires particular communication styles, sales versus copywriting, for example.
You can set the parameters for your ideal marketing team. Candidates can then take a quiz within the software that will tell your hiring team whether that candidate is naturally suited to the position’s behavioral profile. Your team can use discretion to determine if a misalignment is enough to eliminate that candidate or if there is room for leniency.
Personality and behavior are fluid arenas. Just as there is room to change for the worse, there’s also room for improvement. If you’ve taken the time to build a strong and cohesive team from the onset, any new hire will have less trouble picking up on the team’s energy and become a valuable member contributing to the success of the team.
Build a Feedback Culture
Taking time and care to hire the right people is a critical step in building a high-performance marketing team, but it is not the end of the road. Top performing teams are constantly adjusting to improve performance and maintain balanced team dynamics.
The best way to ensure continual improvement is to establish a feedback culture. Employees are human beings that will not always be perfect. Your company will make some mistakes along the way. Normalize critical feedback by approaching it with some key rules:
Always criticize in private, one-on-one sessions
Addressing one employee’s mistake in front of a group will immediately put that individual on the defense. It is an embarrassing mood that will not provide the ultimate results you want, which is improving that employee’s performance. Instead, always schedule a quick one-on-one to deliver constructive criticism.
Rule of thumb: praise in public, criticize in private.
Additionally, one-on-one meetings can instill a stronger sense of ownership and inspire your team members’ entrepreneurial spirit.
Start with Praise
Jumping right into criticism is another way to put your team member on the defense. It is hard to truly listen to your boss when you are feeling attacked.
To help minimize the impact of the criticism, and to reassure the employee that they are overall doing well, start the one-on-one meeting with praise. Then you can transition to more negative feedback.
Provide feedback ASAP
Don’t wait too long to correct a mistake or behavior. There are multiple reasons to deliver feedback as soon as possible.
One, it stops the employee from continuing to make the same mistake. Two, the incident is still fresh in the employee’s mind. Wait too long, and the employee could forget or misremember the event or behavior, leading to arguments about their performance.
Make feedback a two-way communication
Great leaders can take criticism as much as they can dish it out. Provide opportunities for employees to offer feedback on management’s performance or organizational operations as a whole. Some individual problems could be a symptom of a larger organizational or cultural issue.
Bonus tip: keep meetings short. Nobody wants to pretend to pay attention for an hour or longer, including you. Brief, focused meetings will deliver the best results, especially if you are delivering criticism.
Set Clear Expectations
Defining the destination is a critical step in the journey. Setting clear expectations and goals will help steer your marketing team to success. Start by identifying the “why” of each objective with some clarifying questions on the outcome, for example:
- What will change in the company?
- Who will be affected? How will they be affected?
- How does achieving this goal improve the company? How does it improve the team?
Once objectives are identified, it is time to set clear expectations of each team member’s role and the consequences of an action. Of each goal, discuss questions like the following:
- What will happen if you/we don’t reach the goal?
- What financial impact could failing to achieve this goal have?
- Will someone lose their job if this goal isn’t met?
Outlining clear, specific outcomes will help the team have a holistic view of their role and provides realistic motivation to continue progress towards that goal. A big blind spot for many management professionals is not clearly communicating the “why” of projects or goals. Transparency is a benefit, if possible, at all levels.
All high-performing teams are data-driven marketing teams. Just like you apply analytics to your marketing objectives, you can use data to analyze team performance.
One popular method of company and team performance analysis is the SWOT method. SWOT stands for:
- Strengths. The qualities that give your team an advantage. The stuff you are good at naturally or have worked hard to improve.
- Weaknesses. The spots where you could be doing better that make your team vulnerable.
- Opportunities. The areas where you could improve and strategies to make improvements.
- Threats. External challenges that could strike weaknesses in your team.
SWOT is a great tool to brainstorm as a team to identify core areas. From there, your team can analyze how to improve strengths, minimize or eliminate weaknesses, and challenge threats. Establish regular meetings to continually assess progress on SWOT.
Creating a high performing marketing team is essential to set your business up for growth. However, there are many variables at work when setting up a team in first place and maintaining consistently good results.
Each organization needs to determine what high-performing and culture mean to them. This guide will point you in the right direction and, with proper dedication, lead you to the high-performing marketing team ideally suited to your company.
Michelle Laurey works as a VA for small businesses. She loves talking business, and productivity, and share her experience with others. Outside her keyboard, she spends time with her Kindle library or binge-watching Billions. Her superpower? Vinyasa flow! Talk to her on Twitter @michelle_laurey.