CMOs commonly struggle with talent issues across marketing functions, more so than their counterparts in sales. Being the benevolent leaders that they are, CMOs often explain this as a consequence of marketeers requiring deeper role specialization, technical skill requirements, data analysis capabilities, or deep industry knowledge. It may be true that marketing roles are complex and highly specialized, but using this talk track to explain-away underperformance is met with skepticism from the rest of the executive team and the sales organization alike. In truth, marketing leaders who can’t staff roles with the right people are really grappling with defining success for the marketing group at large and defining the right OKRs for the roles tasked with making marketing successful. In other words, they haven’t developed a revenue marketing approach that aligns to the company’s revenue plan, or they haven’t defined how each role contributes to marketing making its number. If the plan is clear and the people are the problem, then the CMO endeavoring to build a revenue-generating engine by leveling-up the marketing team needs a thoughtful talent strategy.
When a VP of Sales asks, “do I have the right players on my team?” it’s an easy question to answer: if a reasonable number of reps are hitting quota, the ones who consistently don’t must not be the right players. Culturally, a sales org is ok with cutting the C and D stringers each year and coaching the A and B players to improve. Marketing leaders more frequently encounter gaps in an employee’s skill set that don’t warrant termination but serve as a persistent drag or blocker to excellence. Usually, marketers are whizzes in a particular discipline but struggle with the “big picture” story, or they’re good utility players who just can’t go very deep in any particular area. Contrast these two employee types with the concept of the “T-Shaped Marketer.” A term that connotes a marketer with a deep expertise in a particular marketing skill but a breadth of capabilities across the entire scope of marketing functions. You want T-Shaped Marketers on your team, and you get them through thoughtful consideration of your employee experience.
What Goes Into Employee Experience Design?
Good employee experience begins with a strategic plan that outlines the things your company must do to effectively assess, recruit, onboard, develop, and retain a team of A-Player talent. There are 4 components to consider:
- Talent Strategy
- Talent Planning
- Role Profiles, Scorecards, & Descriptions
- Talent Assessments
1. Talent Strategy
This is where the direction and goals for marketing’s talent department are defined. The right talent strategy will consider how marketing delivers on its own internal goals as well as how it supports and aligns with the other revenue-generating functions like Sales, Customer Success (CS), and Customer Experience (CX). A well-thought-out Talent Strategy ensures you’re staffed with the right people to execute the go-to-market plans. The objective is to create the ideal Employee Experience (EX) for the team. The ideal Employee Experience isn’t just an aspirational slide deck. It must be implemented, monitored, and optimized based on employee and customer feedback, but that’s a topic for another article.
2. Talent Planning
Creating a plan for which types of roles each function will need over varied timeframes allows the commercial leadership team to develop a plan on how to source, deploy, and retain the right people. In the case of marketing, you’ll want to decide what roles need to be acquired from outside the organization, what roles can be developed from your current team, and what functions are better outsourced entirely. Your talent plan is the tactical execution steps of your talent strategy.
3. Role Profiles, Scorecards, & Descriptions
Clear role descriptions and scorecards help attract and retain A-Players for every role. They align the team on what they do and where they rely on other functions for support. You’ll want to start with a clear vision for your marketing team as a revenue-generating powerhouse and work backward to develop profiles for an “A-Player” in each key marketing role. Documenting profiles provides a clear picture of what a great employee looks like. Once this is understood and defined, your other talent management activities will follow more easily and organically. For example, now that you’ve defined the profile for an “A-Player” demand generation manager, your scorecards, descriptions, expectations, and coaching cadence will logically follow.
4. Talent Assessments
Identifying the right person for each role is too important to be left to chance. A robust assessment of leaders and individual contributors by an impartial rubric can ensure people are in the most effective role. While assessing talent is a mixture of art and science, in broad strokes, you should endeavor to assess each individual in each key functional role against a customized profile to identify strengths and gaps using an established system. For more on this, read about SBI’s Top-Grading Methodology. The right approach compares competencies, accountabilities, and the intangible aspects of emotional intelligence and the end result is a holistic view of the candidate. This ultimately reduces employee ramp-to-productivity and employee churn by assuring role fitness up-front in the process.
Once you’ve built the infrastructure, you’ll use talent assessments to make promotion, retention, and offboarding decisions. An effective assessment is the basis for an individual development plan, which helps individuals succeed in their current and future roles.
How Do You Fit Your Current Talent Into This Framework?
After going through the planning and assessment process, you may find that some current roles are clearly not a fit for your future state organization. You’ll likely also discover that some of your A-Players don’t have a major skills gap to overcome; they just lacked role clarity and clear expectations. For the remainder of your team, you’ll need to implement and commit to a coaching cadence designed around bridging the gap between where you are as an organization today and where you want to go. To that end, consider utilizing our 1:1 coaching guide to make those discussions beneficial for you and your reports.
Curious about where your employee experience and marketing strategy fall on SBI’s maturity curve? Check out our Revenue Growth Maturity Model for insights on the most impactful, stage-appropriate actions you can take to hit your number.