Attorney, Paradigm Counsel
As organizations adapt to the ever changing business environment, leaders must make sure they get the greatest impact from their marketing communications effort. Working with many organizations, I have found that doing a periodic checkup on the health of your organization is critical to getting your return on marketing dollars spent. Symptoms are: overworked employees, employees spinning wheels and decreasing moral. By taking the pulse of the organization, you can discover whether there are issues related to personnel, processes or roles.
Start with their organizational understanding and role definition
If yours is like many organizations, some people have “grown up” in it and some are new. Skill levels can vary dramatically, and often there is no training, so people learn their jobs organically. Employees must understand their focus and responsibility and where they fit in the big picture. Good questions to ask are:
- Describe which job functions you actually do, for example: Do you do writing, production, planning? Are you the point person for internal clients or do you work in tandem with members of your team?
- Do you feel there is a clear picture of priorities and goals of the team?
- If you could change or evolve your role on the team, what would that look like?
Find out whether processes are working by probing into how work gets done
As marketing organizations grow, more process is necessary, but getting the processes defined or right often never really happens. Some organizations use the RACI model and define who is Responsible, Accountable, Contributor or Informed. This can be particularly useful in large project teams. But just as important is defining who makes decisions on visuals and messages, and who manages the schedule and the overall project. Good questions to ask are:
- Describe how you get work done and how you interact with other team members.
- Detail a project that could have gone better and what would have made it go better.
- What project went particularly smooth and why was that?
- What is your role versus outside agencies (PR, Advertising) and how can that process be improved?
Listen to overall input from the team
Leaders must recognize that team members have troves of information and ideas. They must be heard and their input incorporated into change that may be necessary. I always recommend taking the time to ask some basic but important questions to gather vital ideas for improvement. The questions to ask are:
- What do you think the team’s overall strengths are and what can be improved upon?
- How well is your team resourced to deliver on the goals?
- What is missing for you to deliver on the goals?
- Is there anything you’d change about how the teams works together?
Put it all together
Going through this process and combining all the input helps you make sure the right people are in the right roles, and that you are leveraging the talent you have for the best return.
In one marketing organization’s assessment, for instance, we helped create a road map for how to best use the current resources. This led to expanded leadership roles for two leaders and provided valuable training and mentoring for another who needed it. Newly found process bottlenecks led to a new centralized production management and status reporting system. And taking a page from IT departments, the group also established Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that improved predictability and made service standards clearly understood across the organization.
Done at least once a year, an overall health checkup such as this can ensure your marketing department remains as strong and effective as possible no matter what the marketplace does.
Jeanne Chase Tiscareno works on message development, market planning, PR, and business planning for Global 1000 companies such as Microsoft, Accenture, Ernst and Young, Verizon, and SAP. Jeanne’s work has also taken her into health care-related business planning for hospital systems such as PeaceHealth and UW Medicine.