Global Marketing
Management Consultants
Global Marketing
Management Consultants
Global Marketing
Management Consultants

Nine great ways to ensure you will never get a high performance marketing team

This is a guest post by Nathan Hodges, General Manager of TrinityP3. Nathan applies his knowledge and creativity to the specific challenges of marketing management, with a particular focus on team dynamics and behavioural change.

I was recently asked by a client, in a meeting, to describe what a ‘high performance team’ looked like in marketing.

I began my answer with the incredibly erudite words: ‘it depends’.

Saying this made me want to punch myself. This is because, increasingly, I find myself wanting to punch anybody who keeps saying ‘it depends’. And I don’t even think I’m wrong. Wow – so it depends, does it? Gee, I never thought. Thanks for that. Idiot.

The reason I said it, apart from a momentary lapse, is that I’ve observed how one organisation’s high-performing team can be another’s utter nightmare.

I’ve worked with marketing-led companies where restlessness, dissatisfaction and innovative drive are encouraged as the highest kind of performance.

I’ve also worked with companies where command and control by the business units is everything, and innovation is part of a rigorous process. High performance there is very different.

So, to define ‘high performance’ for a marketing team, you need to know where marketing sits within an organisation, how it is regarded, and what role it plays in leadership. It’s the difference between marketing and marketing services, if you like. We’ve blogged about this before here, and no doubt will again

So instead, to answer my client’s question without saying ‘it depends’, here’s the opposite. Here are nine great ways to ensure a low-performing marketing team.

Believe me people, these time-honoured tips depend on nothing at all for their success. Big or small, put just a few of them into practice, and you’ll have an ordinary crew on your hands in no time.

One. Make sure strategy follows structure

And keep it that way. A good complicated org chart can keep your team going round in circles for years. They’ll never get anything done. (And if it ever looks like a strategy might actually be forming, just change the structure again. Works every time.)

Two. Arrange all meetings ‘back-to-back’.

This shows how busy you are. If you’re busy, you must be important. And if you’re important, you can’t be fired when your low performance is discovered. Recommended for avoiding all work, decisions and responsibility. And you get biscuits too.

Three. Get RACI wrong on purpose.

RACI, as we all know, is intended to ensure team members don’t all try to do everyone else’s job. Responsible, Accountable, Consulted or Informed – you’re supposed to be just one. So of course, to get yourself an instant low-performing team, just deliberately misunderstand it. Tell everyone they have to be R, A, C and I for absolutely everything. Then sit back and enjoy the utter chaos.

Four. Procrastinate.

I’ll explain this one soon. Just need a few more things to fall into place first. Let’s touch base in six weeks or so. I’ll call you.

Five. Talk like this.

This is the core competency of a sub-optimal enterprise, aimed at maximising buy-in and critical momentum without alienating the broad consensus around future plans for a customer-orientated, marketplace-led approach combined with a uniquely strategic solutions-focus.

Six. Pay for process not results.

Don’t offer incentives to your team or your agencies. That’ll just mean they start achieving things. Pay them to do things instead. And pay the same, whether they do things brilliantly or badly. Uncover the inner Homer Simpson.

Seven. Keep ‘em guessing.

Clarity and consistency are for achievers. You need to change your mind on a whim. But don’t tell anyone until the right moment…which is just after your team has spent hours trying to execute whatever you said last time. A little well-chosen petulance works wonders at this point too – mood reading keeps everyone demotivated.  I’ve seen some CEOs get all the way to a lucrative retirement doing just this, without ever getting found out.

Eight. Get consensus.

Pretend you understand the book “The Wisdom of Crowds”. Set up lots of cross-functional committees to review and have input at every step of any given process. Hey presto – you’ll move at a snail’s pace, and all your good people and ideas will leave you. Road-tested by politicians for centuries.

Nine. Be nice.

Not the water-cooler, ‘hi, how are you?’ kind of nice. That’s just fine. I mean the nice where you give dishonest feedback. Or give away everything at the opening of a negotiation. Or correct mistakes without letting the perpetrator know. Or settle for how things are instead how they could be. The cowardly nice. The ‘don’t rock the boat’ nice. That one. Oh yes. If you want low performance, you’ve got to be nice.

Did I miss any? What do you think? Let me know with a comment.

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    As TrinityP3′s General Manager, Nathan applies his knowledge and creativity to the specific challenges of marketing management, with a particular focus on team dynamics and behavioural change. He is an HBDI Practitioner and an experienced facilitator and coach. Read Nathan's bio here or email

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