Welcome to the Friday Commentary. In this series every Friday experts will shine a light on the digital industry. Where are we heading, what is going on and how should we approach this as decision makers? This Friday we look at a hugely important element in digital marketing: your team. Expedia’s Jose Truchado is an expert in the field.
I have the best team in the world…
I know this is a bold statement and I stand 100% behind it. I think my team is the best one I could have and I think every manager that has been working with their current team for more than a year should say the same thing about their own teams, otherwise they are not doing a good job as managers.
We are working in a Digital Marketing era when the pace of change is accelerating so rapidly that some brands have trouble keeping up with these changes because they, or their teams, are not flexible enough. This is facilitating the surge of creative start-ups that fill the gaps that brands create in the market because of their lack of capacity to adapt. What they all have in common is their speed, flexibility and capacity of adaptation.
We’ve all seen very promising projects become hugely popular in no time, to only be forgotten in a matter of months (MySpace), or big brands being overtaken by companies that didn’t even exist a few months prior to their sudden success.
How does this affect Online Marketing teams?
I have been a manager for most of my professional life. Even before I started in the digital industry back in 1997, I always believed in the professional development of the people I managed. Although you’d think that so many years of managing people would give me the skills to do my job with ease, I can say that my job is now more challenging than ever. This is not because of the nature of my role but because the fast pace of changes in the industry require equally fast adaptable new skill-sets from me as a manager in order to get the best of my team.
I recently mentioned in Linkdex new SEO Now 2014 Ebook that:
“SEO has evolved into a lot more than just optimization, meta tags and link-building. Now it’s much more complicated, much more exciting. It’s about understanding people, what they need and what they are looking for.”
But that’s only one side of the coin, as a manager of an Online Marketing team a big part of my work is about (to quote myself):
Using my previously learned management techniques nowadays is like using a typewriter to write a document: It would be old-fashioned, painful and counter-productive, cutting and pasting would take me hours and the results would be a mess.
Updating my skills as a manager hasn’t been a matter of modernising my ways of managing people. On the contrary, I had to learn tools and techniques that have been developed for almost a century but that have allowed me to have a better understanding of my team’s development needs and preferences.
I’ve had to change my team’s preconceived and well-established corporative structure and create one that constantly breaks the rules, as those rules are the same that hinder both our progression as a team and the results we can bring forward to the company.
Personality Profiling Tools
Working with my current team made me realise that I needed to evolve, to know them better and know myself better as a manager. Myers Briggs Type Indicator was my tool of choice; and I even went as far as becoming a Myers Briggs practitioner and a licensed Executive Coach.
Myers Briggs (or MBTI) is one of the many personality-profiling tools that can be used (Myers Briggs, Hartman, Kiersey, etc). In my case the MBTI allowed me to improve communication both between my team members and me as well as among themselves. I also helped to break the naturally formed corporate silos by distributing tasks among the team according to their preferences. This created an environment where we are all working in a more collaborative way, where ideas flow and tasks are structured and monitored by the right people in the team. Notethat I say “we” …in order for this to work, I had to remove myself as a more senior manager and allow my team to know me better, to become one of them.
My team manages me
I still mentor my team, I still make the hard decisions when they need to be made and I still have my hands on the steering wheel of my team. By not only breaking the silos among my team but also breaking the pre-established team structure I have allowed them to own projects and this responsibility has turned the tables with them managing me in some cases.
This ownership and independence has pushed them to make timely decisions without me but it has also allowed them to have a sense of learning and progression that otherwise would have been suffocated by the corporate structure we work in.