Across industries, it is widely accepted that for companies to garner the best results, they must find ways to maintain high employee engagement. Perhaps this is especially the case when it comes to your marketing team. After all, these are the professionals who will craft your brand story, maintain your website and blog, put together your tradeshow collateral, manage your social media platforms, conjure up (hopefully riveting) digital advertising, and more. Suffice it say, if anyone needs to be “all-in,” it is your ready-made brand champions.
But is there a way to realistically increase buy-in (and output) from the veritable mouthpiece of your company? According to Zenger Folkman research, there is: while a mere 4% of so-called “low-empowerment” employees demonstrated the desire to invest in their company by exerting extra effort, that figure jumped to 67% for employees who felt empowered in the workplace. So if you want to elevate your marketing team—and by extension, your brand—commit to empowering your people, and do so as soon as possible.
Here’s where to start:
Cut Approval Processes Down to Size
A Boston Consulting Group study found that over the past 15 years, the number of procedures, vertical layers, and required interfacing and approvals has increased by up to 350% in some organizations. Precisely because of marketers’ power and responsibility in the digital age, companies increasingly maintain lengthy, rigid approval processes. While it is important to ensure that content aligns with your brand voice and standards, if you have as many as five (or even ten!) people approving simple assignments prior to posting, you are drastically decreasing productivity, opportunities for thought leadership, and overall morale and creative freedom.
Instead of pushing every decision through the entire senior leadership team, prevent potential missteps by 1.) hiring people you trust to make important calls, 2.) effectively mentoring your marketers, and 3.) trusting them with increasingly significant problems to solve. When they fall short—because everyone does at some point—use those situations as teaching opportunities. In addition to saving time, this is how we train the next group of leaders—after all, everyone suffers if no one is growing or innovating.
Understand that While Measurement is an Important Thing, It is Not the Only Thing
In one survey of marketing decision-makers, a whopping 72% of respondents stated that measurement culture is “killing creativity.” Yikes. Furthermore, 64% felt that an unyielding focus on measurement reflected senior management’s unwillingness to work on building the brand.
Solution? Go with a happy medium. Do measure what you can (and by all means, use your analytics!), but also understand that none of your successful campaigns could be measured until they were actually launched. If you refuse to experiment because you can’t reliably predict the results (yet), you have effectively sentenced your brand to stagnancy.
Stay Away from Micromanagement At All Costs
Let’s face it: no one likes a micromanager (ironically, even micromanagers despise being micromanaged!), and it wastes time, resources, and energy while drastically increasing turnover rates. If your senior leadership is laser-focused on controlling every task assigned to your entry-level and middle-management positions, who then is doing the job of the senior leadership?
Bottom line: the most important thing you can do to empower your marketers is to simply trust them to do their job. Rather than hiring dictating every step of how to achieve desired results, support your people as they work to identify and refine their individual abilities, provide the necessary autonomy to innovate and experiment, and ultimately…give them the space to work beside you on the shared journey to transform your company from the inside-out.