With the right marketing team, and clear process improvement objectives, you can change the entire culture of your organization and get a ton done…if you know how to ask questions.
Many of us are doers or at least planners. We know how to get things moving. And hiring a team of smart people, dedicated to their role gives you the people you need to get things moving.
But to take the next step, you need the ability to ask questions. One of the best ways to do this is by planning the feedback.
Now, while we’re asking the managers who report to us for their feedback, we have to remember that they’re here to help us reach our goals (and we’re here to help our boss, client, and customer reach their goals, and so on and so forth). So we’re not taking assignments from them, but we DO need to know how to make them as effective as possible.
And asking questions is how we do it.
The goal is to understand how each manager is tracking toward the larger goals of the organization. KPIs are huge, as we’ve talked about before. But now that you have KPIs, how do you help them orient toward those KPIs?
They have experience at a lower level than you. They can tell you things you can’t see. And if they’re smart, curious, and growing, they’ll be able to use those KPIs to achieve — and give you — the kind of success you see when everyone in your chain of command is functioning well.
So here’s an example of how to set up that feedback.
Set Up Your Process Marketing Improvements
If it’s not simple, it doesn’t happen. So schedule standing meetings and have a form you can use so your report knows what’s coming and how to orient toward it.
Checklist for this step:
- Send out the form to the manager
- Schedule the meeting
Discuss Improvements with Your Marketing Managers
The goal of the discussion is to get them to tell you what they think needs to happen and to get your help in supporting those changes. We’re interviewing them a few reasons:
- If we told them what to do, it wouldn’t be their idea and they’d lack ownership.
- It might not fit their style of working.
- It might not be practical in the everyday.
- You, as the manager, don’t have to think of the solution when he/she already probably has a few in mind.
Example Questionnaire for Marketing Managers
Let’s start with what your managers are experiencing, then move to what they think frustrates their (internal or external) customers, and then ask the questions from a few different angles.
I would recommend you specifically ask them for the top 3 things that are going well and that need improvement. Those will challenge their analytical abilities and push them toward understanding (read: you’re making them smarter).
- For the Manager:
- What’s the easiest thing about this job for you? This gives you a chance to understand their strengths and the processes that are going well.
- What makes this job hard for you? This helps you see their weaknesses and what processes might not be working.
- For the Manager’s Customer:
- What makes working with your department difficult?
- Top 3 things going well.
- 3 things that need improvement
- Anything wasting your time, is frustrating, or just doesn’t fit the strengths of the department?
And, of course, we need to understand the “why,” which is the main thing. If we can’t get to that, we won’t understand the problem, and we can’t know that the solutions fit problems we don’t understand.
Follow-Through for Marketing Improvements
It’s not done until you’ve ranked the problems and picked at least one to solve that month or quarter. Once you’ve picked the top problem to solve:
- Understand the problem:
- What makes it a problem?
- What does it cost in time, money, or frustration?
- It’s worth solving.
- Identify a solution
- Even if the next step is scheduling a meeting.
- Otherwise, make a user story.
- Automate reporting for x
- So that so-and-so can create a useful report without having to do y.
- Walk away with a scope, timeline, and budget.
- Scope: how will we know when we’ve taken action to solve the problem? Remember, you can’t always know when the problem is solved, and this could lead to scope creep. Keep it to: What should we do to fix the problem, and how will we know it’s done?
- Timeline: Sometimes timeline depends on your meeting tempo rather than how fast something can get done. Either way, set the date so your manager can make a plan.
- Budget: Everything costs time and money. Make sure you know how much it will cost in man hours and cash.
One Problem at a Time
Growing companies build process and culture over time. To keep forward momentum, managers need to keep healthy pressure on their reports in a way that will be fulfilling for everyone involved. You get good results and a great professional relationship with people, and your reporting manager gets their strengths built and career success.
As long as we can properly identify the next task and get it done in a way that grows the team.