Bad leaders are a fact of life. They make for great entertainment (there’s nothing we find more hilarious than watching the likes of Michael Scott and Miranda Preistly torture their staff), but in reality, poor leaders are a nightmare to work with. They leave their teams feeling frustrated and unmotivated, which has a huge impact on the productivity of a business.
Good leaders, on the other hand, inspire their teams to bring 110% to their jobs every single day, and to enjoy the experience of doing so. As the head of your marketing team, you’re not only responsible for delivering a brilliant marketing strategy for your company, but also for supporting the team of marketers that you manage. This is a huge responsibility and one that has to be done right, since your team’s success is a reflection of your own.
No doubt you’re here because you value your team and want to get them performing at their absolute best. We’re also passionate about seeing people maximise their potential, so we’ve rounded up some ideas on how you can empower your team to thrive.
Trust your team members to perform their role
Your team are in place because they’re experts in their field, so there’s no need to watch over their shoulders while they’re working. Allowing each individual in your team to deliver their work as they see fit shows that you have faith in their expertise and skills, which goes a long way to building trust.
A more productive way of checking in on your team is to dedicate time to asking how a project or task is going, and allowing them to explain. For example, you might have an end of week meeting with your whole team and ask them to give a summary update of how their work is going. Then, if you have any concerns you can raise them in response by asking questions and making suggestions. After all, your team are experts in what they do, so it’s best to trust their skills and allow them to grow through their own experiences. This will also benefit you by freeing up your time, as you won’t have to worry about checking in with everybody at different points in the week.
Make trust a part of your team culture
A trusting relationship within your team is essential, and open communication is key to establishing trust. This feeling of trust should go both ways, as you want your team to be able to approach you with thoughts, ideas and concerns, but you also want to be sure you can have honest discussions with them too.
You can encourage open discussion within everything you do, by asking for other people’s thoughts and ideas. When you give your team a brief or hold a meeting, don’t just talk at them and then end the conversation. Ask your team questions to open up the discussion, and give everyone a chance for their voice to be heard. Some things you can say are:
- Does this plan work for everyone?
- Does anyone have any concerns or questions?
- Is there anything anyone would like to add?
- If you have any thoughts or find any sticking points along the way, just let me know.
Another great way to build trust is to include your team in decision making. Of course there will be times where you have to make an executive decision on your own, but where possible it’s effective to invite everyone to get involved. It shows you value their voice and will encourage them to regularly contribute their own opinions.
Finally, be sure to communicate the bigger picture with your team. Keeping them in the loop with where your organisation is headed will make your team feel like a valued part of the journey and they will be more willing to go the extra mile in helping drive the business forward.
Invest in professional development
One of the most important things you can do as a leader is invest in your team’s professional development. You want your team to be complete experts in marketing, so they’re fully equipped to drive your organisation forward and achieve the goals that have been set.
You can suggest courses, books or webinars for them to explore, or even better, you can open up the floor and let your team suggest professional development opportunities they believe will help them progress.
It’s far more cost effective to upskill your current staff than it is to hire new team members, especially if those new hires don’t work out, so be prepared to invest in your current team. Investing in their training also shows you support their career progression, and are not just focused on what they can deliver for the company.
Encourage your team to continue learning by making professional development a KPI and set up a tracker so that everyone can keep a record of their achievements and you have full view of how they are progressing. This will help to ensure that everyone in your team is equally dedicating time to professional development, and no-one is missing out on the opportunity to increase their potential.
The good, the bad and the ugly of feedback
All types of feedback are essential to helping your team maximise their potential. Positive feedback keeps up morale and encourages people to push further within their roles. It’s great to recognise excellent work as it happens, either by chatting to the individual, or sending an email to the full team to highlight a particular success. If you’re in a large team you could even do awards such as employee of the month.
Constructive feedback is also important as it helps individuals learn from mistakes and improve their approach to working. However, it’s not a good idea to announce negative feedback in front of the people it isn't directed towards, so speak to people individually where appropriate.
Don’t forget to ask for feedback too. This is part of part of building a two-way dialogue with your team as part of building trust, but also helps you have a full view of how things are working in your team. For example, you might implement a new working process that you don’t use yourself, so if it isn't working for your team or is slowing them down, their feedback is the best way to iron out any issues.
Don’t just be a boss, be a mentor
Most ambitious professionals are looking for people more senior than them to act as a mentor. Mentors give tailored advice to their mentees to help them advance in their careers and feel confident that they’re doing the best job they can. As a leader, you likely know the strengths and weaknesses of your team members better than anyone, so that puts you in an excellent position to become a mentor and strengthen your relationships.
You don’t need to be the sole mentor for every person in your team, but it’s important to dedicate one on one time to each individual. Perhaps once a quarter, you can have an informal meeting to speak to them about their progress and help to guide them in reaching their full potential. Often, this process is as rewarding for the mentor as it is for the mentee.
Remember that in putting these ideas into practice, you’re not only maximising your team’s potential, but also demonstrating your own success as a leader. This will help you progress your own career, as well as ensure success for the company you and your colleagues are working so hard for. If you’re looking for more guidance on working as a marketing leader, and even progressing to the C-Suite, there’s lots of resources over on our Insights & Tools page.