Are you guilty of “setting and forgetting” strategic goals? A marketing team that understands how their day-to-day activities relate to wider strategic vision will be more engaged, stable and invested.
It’s easy to get caught up in marketing outputs and lose sight of the purpose behind marketing activities. Strategy is never a straight line between the present and your goal. As you gain insights you need to constantly readjust and recalibrate. As your strategy evolves, it’s important to keep your team engaged and up to date.
Internal communication can be overlooked as we assume our team just “knows” what is going on. This can lead to a gap in the engagement of executives and employees. A Deloitte study found that 47 percent of executives strongly agree that they can identify with their company's purpose, compared to just 30 percent of employees.
The key to keeping your team on the same page is to proactively engineer opportunities to discuss strategy and goals each day. Creating a habit of goal-focused discussions isn’t hard, but it does require discipline and consistency. Internal communications requires time and attention but having a focused, productive team is worth the effort.
Step 1: Create buy-in for the strategic vision
People who understand their job’s wider purpose are happier, more engaged, and more creative. When employees see how their roles fit with the company’s goals, staff turnover goes down and productivity rises (Mindtools.com).
People have greater ownership of goals that they help create but when this is not possible it’s important to help the team create a sense of ownership. Have an open discussion about why the goal was set, why it’s important to the company and how it relates to your team’s purpose.
Designing goals that are SMART will help communicate clearly within teams. SMART goals naturally work well to empower teams as they eliminate vagueness and provide concrete signposts towards success.
Top tip: Get your goals out of powerpoint presentations!
A sure way to kill momentum for a goal is to lock it away in a powerpoint presentation, doomed to be reviewed once a year. Instead talk with your team about how they want to bring marketing goals to life. A screen or poster in a team area can be a great way to bring goals alive and ensure they’re part of daily discussions.
A simple goal poster that gets updated regularly can create a tangible measure of progress that engages the whole team. If you update your visual tracking at the same time each week it can develop into a powerful ceremony which the team connects to.
Step 2: Relate individual work to the strategic vision
When the team is racing to release a new promotion or deliver a event stand it’s easy to get wrapped up in the deadlines and tasks that consume a marketing department day-to-day.
As a manager you can help make sense of this by reinforcing the link between day-to-day activities and long term goals. This helps provide purpose and also empower the team to self-manage and prioritise their workloads.
People want to know how their own work is important to the bigger picture. Illustrating a clear link between the day-to-day and the company’s strategic purpose helps increase engagement.
If your team uses Agile sprints then during sprint planning is an ideal time to discuss this link. New tasks and stories brought into the team’s sprint should have a direct link to your goals. This creates a collective understanding of why the team is working on certain activities.
For example, you might use a trade show booth to fulfill a qualified lead goal. This end goal will affect how you approach the event. Your team needs to be focused on pre-qualifying leads and gathering the right contact information for a smooth hand over to the sales team. Comparatively, a brand awareness goal at the same trade show could lead the team to focus on earlier stage leads.
Top tip: Eliminate unnecessary activities by focusing on impact not outputs!
If there’s no link between the activity and goals then it’s time to evaluate whether that activity should still be happening. Is it truly important or just the way it was always done?
When using task tracking software like Trello or JIRA you may also want to add tags that link directly to your team goals. This provides clarity on “why” an activity is important. As a manager it’s a great way to double-check your own thinking too!
Step 3: Measure progress against the strategic vision
Your SMART goals will have a measurement component, sharing this with your team helps bring to life the impact of their hard work. Think about how your goals are updated, tracked and communicated. Is it the same person each time or can it be rotated so everyone is familiar with the process? If it’s automated, then what triggers the team to discuss the latest results?
Avoid data overload. Focus on the most important metrics to your goals and obsess over improving those first and foremost.
- Talk about progress as a team — don’t assume that dashboards are enough, we’re all busy and checking numbers is a natural thing to put on the back burner
- Be honest about what doesn’t work and change it — don’t hide from disappointment, teach your team to learn from these rather than sweeping them under the rug
- Adjust when you learn new information — measurement should become an active part of adjusting strategy as opposed to a tick-box activity. Measurement is about learning, not simply reporting.
- Celebrate the wins! Take time to enjoy what does work and apply this new knowledge for continued improvements
Top tip: Don’t report on everything!
If you find goal tracking and reporting is taking up too much of your team’s time, perhaps you need to simplify your metrics. Ask yourself what you are using the data you are collecting for. If it’s simply to create a report then that time would be better spent actioning insights from a smaller data pool. Data is only valuable when it’s turned into insights and actioned!
Agile marketing requires increased internal communication
Agile marketing requires teams to work faster, but without clear communication day-to-day activities can become divorced from long-term goals. To avoid this, try to engineer regular opportunities to discuss how activities relate to goals and what progress is being made.
Talking about goals and metrics should be an everyday occurrence within high performing teams. This allows you to tweak and improve your strategy often while keeping everyone on the same page.
Sprint planning sessions, daily stand-ups and retrospectives are all opportunities to examine what new information exists and how the strategy will be affected. This approach ensures teams are empowered, engaged and connected to the bigger picture, not just their own section.