By Steve Radick
PRSA Pittsburgh Sponsorship Lead
[This post originally appeared on Marketing Profs.]
The pandemic has given B2B marketing leaders a golden opportunity to rethink the culture of their marketing teams. Rather than worrying about how to recover, B2B marketers should be thinking about how to get stronger.
Culture change takes time, but one of the best ways to start is by integrating new steps into your employees’ professional development plans. After all, you are what you measure: Campbell’s Law posits that if a raise or corresponding value judgement is solely dependent on meeting a sales quota, employees will sacrifice their other job responsibilities—team management, skill development, and so on—to meet that quota.
If you integrate innovation into development plans, and subsequently into employees’ annual reviews, you can start holding them (and yourself) accountable for the changes you want to make. The metrics that make a successful employee must start including behaviors you want to see; otherwise, your teams will treat culture change as “nice to have” instead of a necessary focus.
That said, telling your employees to “be more innovative” or “take more risks in your work” isn’t helpful. Instead, create professional development goals that are specific, attainable, and measurable, and then provide detailed recommendations that are time-bound and actionable.
Use the pandemic as an opportunity to assess your professional development plans, for both yourself and your teams. Start with these questions:
- Do you have a development plan? Do your employees? When was it last updated?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What are your career goals? This year? Over the next 3-5 years?
- What do you need to accomplish those goals? From yourself? From your team? From your boss? From the organization?
- When was the last time you spoke with your team members about their personal career goals?
- Do you have a plan for how to help them achieve those goals?
- Do you hold them accountable for meeting their goals?
- When was the last time you went down on the factory floor to better understand the complexities of your product manufacturing?
- Do you monitor industry associations and know what the latest trends are?
- Have you shadowed your sales force to truly hear the voice of your customers and understand their needs and what they are looking for?
Once you’ve assessed the current situation, start creating plans that will form the foundation for a more innovative and effective marketing communications department—one that will attract, develop, and retain innovative employees.
Professional development plans should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely). Here are a few sample development plans for employees up and down your org chart that will build a foundation for a more innovative marketing team that could actually apply those strategies and tactics you see in conference agendas, blog posts and white papers.
These plans should always be customized to the individual employee – everyone has different strengths, weaknesses, goals and interests – but they provide a good framework for creating lasting culture change in your B2B marketing.
The pandemic may have forced us to adapt on the fly and come up with creative solutions to challenges we couldn’t have imagined a year ago, but it’s also showed us what’s possible if we think beyond best practices and identify new solutions. Let’s do more than recover from this. Let’s make this the start of a new beginning for all of us.