Marketing Organization
Organization Design and Effectiveness

Overcoming Challenges for Your Best Team Yet: A Roundtable Recap

Averi Melcher
February 19, 2016

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From recruiting top talent (and keeping them motivated), to establishing brand values that resonate with each team member, CMOs can find themselves wearing many hats when it comes to organizational structure.

At their recent Roundtable Discussion, Austin Chapter members shared how they are overcoming some common challenges marketers face when leading a team. Hosted by Gina Sandon, Market Development Leader of IBM, and Jennifer Warren, CMO of At Home, the range of topics members discussed included four key areas of effective team leadership:

1. Finding and Educating Team Members

The best (and most obvious) place to start with building a great team is at the hiring process. Aside from vetting out top candidates and people with the right attitude for the job, members suggested focusing on interview questions that highlight how each person might approach change and growth.

This is especially true for organizations that are rapidly expanding and/or have small teams where employees take on many roles. Think about asking: “How do you deal with change?” or, “Tell me a time when you took on a responsibility that was not within your job scope?”

After building your new team or restructuring your existing one, it’s important to set them up for success. Establish onboarding practices for all employees that include regular check-ins where priorities can be established and roles can be clarified. One CMO said her company grows so rapidly, that they break down team initiatives into four buckets, so each member knows top-priority items and how to focus their efforts.

2. Establishing Corporate Culture

It can be a challenge to continuously inspire your team to reach new heights. However, members agreed it’s important that it starts with management setting clear expectations, holding each team member accountable and being flexible.

Knowing that their employees are willing to work the hours but crave work/life balance more now than ever, companies are stepping up their internal culture. Some create a lounge or an at home feel, while others give employees the opportunity to work from there own home several days a week.

Sandon said IBM conducts research on this topic year after year to identify which positions need to be office-based and which lend well to remote work. Their findings have shown that for certain roles – those that benefit from significant collaboration – being face to face with colleagues and peers a few days a week allows for valuable interactions and a team-like setting.

3. Motivating millennials

“Millennials don’t care about flow-through and numbers.”

What does motivate them is having a passion for what they are doing, and doing work that both interests and challenges them. At the same time, members found that millennials want to know their paycheck, benefits – even parking arrangements – are taken care of before digging into the functions of their jobs.

The good news? Once the logistics are taken care of, millennials are excited to dive into their work and prove themselves, bringing new insights and a unique perspective to your brand’s marketing strategies. Another thing that members found helpful when motivating their team was to simply ask them what they want: Send anonymous employee surveys that allow people to candidly share what they think in a trusted environment.

4. Keep Talking

When it comes to the single takeaway for overcoming challenges as a leader, CMOs agreed that constant communication is key. Internal alignment will help maintain a cohesive brand that perpetuates externally to your customers.

To create a sense of community, one CMO said their organization sends a “Marketing Flash Newsletter,” showcasing employee accomplishments and keeping everyone in the loop.

No matter what your strategy, it’s important to remember three words for better communication: clear, concise – and most importantly – spoken.

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