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Building High Performance Marketing Teams

High Performance Marketing

When joining a new company, it’s critical to quickly assess the team you’ve inherited to determine what level of organization restructuring and rebuilding will be required to ensure functional success.  Before rushing to judgment and a rapid makeover, take time to understand – on a personal level - the structure, composition, talent, strengths and weakness of the team.  Besides the obvious gaps in competencies, under-performers and open positions, often there are more subtle clues to the most pressing organizational shortcomings as well as staff member potential.

Misplaced.   In every situation I’ve encountered, there is always at least one person who is not in a well suited role.  They often got there because they filled a vacuum left open for one reason or another, not because they had the requisite skills, desire or experience to succeed in the role.  When asked to define success in the position, the misplaced person often says “getting stuff done,” versus doing the right things, doing them in the right order and in the right way.

Misdiagnosed.  Over time, as organizations grow and evolve, it’s quite possible the talent gets buried.  It’s not necessarily by design; however, since people are often viewed primarily through the lense upon which they were first hired or moved into an organization, it’s more difficult to determine that a rising star is obscured by someone whom they report to or some other circumstance.  That’s why I embrace skip-level meetings with inherited staff to find out whether top talent is just waiting to be tapped for a truly challenging assignment.

Key Marketing Behaviors.  There are five or so key behaviors that all team members should be demonstrating in order to facilitate a high performing team and ensure ongoing improvement to operational efficiency and staff output:

Communication:  clearly conveying information and ideas in a manner that engages the audience or team member and helps them understand the message.   Demonstrated by how well one organizes the communication, maintains audience attention, listens to and adjusts to the audience and ensures understanding. 

Innovation/Initiative:   generating innovative solutions in work situations; trying different and novel ways to deal with work problems and opportunities. Demonstrated by doing more, finding new and better ways to accomplish ongoing tasks and continuously improve output and measurable results.

Customer focus:  making customers and their needs a primary focus of one’s efforts and actions is critical to successful marketing organizations (and companies for that matter). Thinking and obsessing about, contacting and connecting with, and “blueprinting” the value you deliver, the problems you solve, the difference you make is essential to efficiently capturing, nurturing, and growing your customer base.

Teamwork:   genuinely helping others, developing collaborative relationships, and proactively problem-solving to accomplish work goals.  I’ve found that in this area, intervention is often required to foster and maintain teamwork even when everyone says they work well with others.

Leadership:  influencing people, events and actions by properly perceiving and acting upon situations and variables.   The last one is, in many organizations, the key behavior.  The phrase “lead, follow or get out the way” should apply to all team members, not just the few at the top.  I argue that there are not enough leaders and risk takers at middle levels, so encourage others to take initiative and lead something, even a short team initiative, and sit in the passenger seat for a change and see how they drive.  You may be surprised enough to let them go much farther in the future.  Happy winning team building!

More Stories By Grant Johnson

A dynamic, senior-level technology executive with a proven track record building businesses on a global basis. As Chief Marketing Officer for Pegasystems in Cambridge, MA Johnson is responsible for worldwide marketing strategy and execution. He oversees corporate marketing, field marketing, industry marketing, product marketing, marketing programs, marketing communications, analyst and public relations, and global web strategy. Previously, Johnson was the Vice President of Marketing at Guidance Software (GUID) and Vice President of Marketing and served as an officer for FileNet Corp., a $400+ million enterprise software vendor acquired by IBM in 2006. Prior to that, he was Vice President of Marketing for FrontBridge, an email management vendor acquired by Microsoft. Johnson led the company’s re-naming and re-launch, built the marketing team and delivered integrated marketing programs to support significant and sustained revenue growth. He has also served as Director of Marketing for Symantec, with worldwide responsibility for the Norton brand, and as Senior Vice President of Marketing at Ethentica, an enterprise security vendor. Johnson received his bachelor of arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his master’s in business administration from Pepperdine University. He has also published several articles on best practices in high tech marketing and co-authored the book, PowerBranding™

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