This post is by Zena Churchill, a Senior Consultant at TrinityP3. Over the past 20 years, Zena has worked for some of the biggest international and national brands. Having worked both agency and client side, Zena has strong insight and experience across most facets of marketing, specialising in media, strategy and BTL.
Transparency. Mention this word at the next industry function and most people will assume you are talking about the very hot topic of media transparency.
Transparency in marketing and advertising has always been a bit of a topic and is primarily thought of as an output (an unnecessary one by some) that flows between the agency and client or brand and consumer.
However, there is another movement around transparency that has been gaining momentum for the past number of years that positions it as an input, and that is transparency in the workplace.
At its simplest, transparency in the workplace is defined by a consistent and organised approach to sharing knowledge and a collective approach to decision making, yet, it’s much more than that.
Transparency in the workplace breeds trust, authenticity, collaboration and inclusion, and this will lead to a better performing team, increased productivity, improved efficiency and better decision making.
In a marketing context, smoke and mirrors not only mislead your customers; it also misleads your team delivering below par performance and fostering an inefficient team environment.
So, how do you optimise transparency in your marketing department and build a more effective and efficient team?
1. Have a clear and well defined process
Marketing is a process driven discipline yet the number of marketing teams who work with no clear internal processes or procedures never ceases to amaze me. The impact of this is quite simply a marketing mess that will result in ineffective marketing output and a complete waste of resources.
Not to mention fostering bad team dynamics, and morale. At TrinityP3 we have been witness to the transformation of many marketing departments who have moved from being a disorganised, poorly resourced mess to a high functioning, well resourced, efficient and effective team, simply by embracing an internal marketing process.
You see, developing and implementing a clear process will not only remove ambiguity around what needs to be done, by whom and when, it will improve efficiencies, increase productivity and strengthen team relationships (no more stepping on each other’s feet).
On top of that a procedural clarity promotes accountability and responsibility and therefore a more engaged team member, will highlight critical timings around big decisions and who needs to be across them and importantly, develops confidence in people’s roles.
2. Close communication gaps
Ironically, those who work in marketing can be quite poor communicators, especially when it comes to keeping key internal stakeholders, such as their team members, up to date.
Often working under a ‘need to know’ ideology, this management style believes it appropriate to selectively dole out information to their team as and when they feel it necessary.
However, all this approach does is create massive communication gaps that inevitably lead to poor team performance, trust issues with management, poor decision making and ineffective marketing output.
Communicating appropriately, regularly and freely with your team, and encouraging them to do the same, will help build a level of understanding around the bigger strategic picture or the ‘why’ that defines what needs to be done at a business level. Knowing this ‘why’ and understanding the reasons behind key decisions not only shows trust in them having access to this information, it empowers a team to make informed and, therefore, the best decisions.
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as passing on every single piece of intel that lands in your inbox and this is where being a good, communicative manager becomes a skill in itself. The key is identifying what is the right top down information to share, as the wrong information can be counterproductive and inadvertently promote stress and vulnerability in the team.
3. Encourage feedback
One of the most difficult aspects of good management is dealing with feedback and quite often it is only dealt with during the benign annual review process when all the important issues about the past year has been forgotten.
Regular and timely feedback is vital for team growth and the organisation that encourages regular feedback will not only benefit from stronger working relationships within their teams, they will also be more collaborative and trusting teams.
When teams are working confidently, within solid and consistent boundaries, feedback will flow without effort, so as a manager it is important to ensure you are providing the boundaries in which a team can feedback through the line (yes, to you as well).
So, how do you promote and encourage regular, relevant and timely feedback?
- Provide open forums for group discussion – this can include WIPs, campaign meetings or campaign post analysis reporting procedures such as Evalu8ing.
- Open door and open mind policy – a manager’s open door policy can sometimes be accompanied by a closed mind. Whilst not all feedback will be welcome, the worst thing a manager can do is shut it down or cast it aside because they disagree. Being open minded will encourage confidence in a team’s ability to provide feedback on the important, as well as not so important issues.
- Encourage improvement rights – empower the team to provide input and be able to improve the process to make it work better. Giving a team ownership of the process will keep it transparent and keep the key stakeholders engaged with it.
- Separate personal and team feedback – take transparency outside the group when necessary, not everyone needs to know everything unless it directly impacts them.
4. Share the good and the bad
Most teams are guilty of only celebrating as a group when they are kicking goals, but what happens when things don’t go to plan?
Maybe a mistake is made or a decision doesn’t end up with the anticipated results. What happens then? As a team you may not feel like hitting the pub for lunch or sitting down to dissect it, however, to encourage transparency in a team environment it’s important that these not so great times as a team are acknowledged so you get over them and move on – together.
Acknowledging and dealing with the not so good times will help uncover what happened, why it happened and how it can be avoided moving forward. It will also promote trust and importantly foster a team culture of shared learning, not secrecy.
There is no such thing as a team that doesn’t make mistakes but there is such a thing as a team that makes mistakes in secret, and the impact of that can be much greater.
5. Walk the talk
As a leader your actions will not only impact on the actions of your team, they will also be a reflection of your team and how they are viewed externally. Paying lip service to transparency whilst conducting yourself in a not so transparent manner will negatively impact any chances you have of managing a transparent, efficient and effective marketing team.
As they say, monkey see, monkey do – and you can be guaranteed that monkey will.
TrinityP3’s Marketing Planning Process Review service is aimed at driving operational efficiency to complex marketing programs, clearing space for better planning and ultimately, better strategic outputs.
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