Business relationships are built on a combination of people, technology, and organizational structure. When a change occurs to one, or all three, people can feel nervous or demoralized—especially if your organization has let someone go, is experiencing a merger/acquisition scenario, or is scaling back its budget. Our livelihoods, health, and passions are tied to our jobs. Often, the information that we care about most is buried under layers of organizational politics.
One of the biggest challenges in marketing is that the space itself is convoluted. C-suites, comprised of finance, IT, general management, and other leaders are often unsure where to invest and at what stage. Not to mention technology: dramatic changes in technology are taking place.
Marketers are beginning to think about the role of blockchains in their operations. International data privacy regulations will heighten over the next several years, beginning May 2018, because of new legislation from the European Union. New security vulnerabilities are arising, which means that executives are choosing technologies with greater scrutiny and cross-functional input from other leaders. Furthermore, organizations are figuring out exactly how much to spend on marketing.
Regardless, change can be uncomfortable or downright scary. For teams that have achieved momentum with their marketing campaigns, a cold halt can be jarring and disruptive to morale. In these moments, marketing leaders need to envision themselves as the glue that holds teams together—to keep energy, enthusiasm, and forward progress strong. Reorient moments of change as opportunities to build a more cohesive operation.
Here are some tips to guide you.
Give Transparency to the C-Suite
Marketers are not CEOs, finance leaders, or product experts. As individuals grow through the ranks of management, they gain a stronger understanding of what goes on behind the scenes—communication with shareholders, changes in product direction, pivots, reasons behind mergers, rationales behind organizational changes, etc.
Instead of leaving teams wondering why something is happening, in fear for their roles, use the opportunity to provide meaningful education. Inspire your team to take an interest in the market-drivers behind the change, so they can incorporate big-picture themes into their everyday decisions. Emphasize the importance of continued learning.
Set Expectations for Continuous Change
Open markets are moving faster than many organizations can keep up. Change is the new norm of business. For many individuals, operating in a state of constant change can be stressful—how can we effectively set targets?
But that’s the wrong question for teams to ask.
Instead, marketing teams should be seeking to build components of stability in light of continuous change. Encourage time devoted to research and education, so individuals continue to learn about new marketing opportunities and systems. Provide organizational support for structured learning time—free trainings are available from a range of sources including Google, Coursera, Kapost’s library of eBooks, and a number of other organizations.
Change is an open door for teams to reinvent themselves. To maintain a long tenure as marketers, we need to develop new skills on an ongoing basis. As leaders, we can harness change to inspire a culture of education, which will translate into a culture of innovation.
Organizational changes, mergers, acquisitions, and company downsizes are particularly nerve-racking—especially when team members foresee that their roles may no longer exist.
These situations are often out of a marketing leader’s control. When running teams, we need to be transparent about what we can see taking place at the executive level. Provide a realistic picture of what changes may be taking place so that team members do not feel compelled to jump ship—or, team members can rightfully begin looking for new jobs.
Professional bonds can outlast workplaces, spanning entire careers. There always comes a day when we move on from our roles, whether or not we have a choice. As a leader, during times of ambiguity, express that you’re available to provide support in the best capacity that you can, regardless of what happens.
Most importantly, advocate for your team. Continue to assert the value of each individual’s contribution to overall company revenue and growth. Fight for your team, keep morale high, advocate for their needs, and turn change into a positive growth opportunity for your organization. No matter the outcome of what happens, you’ll form priceless, lasting bonds with individuals who depend on you for guidance.
Jobs and technology are replaceable. Human connections are not.
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