Did I just successfully clone myself?
July 6, 2017
At Verrah, we like to say that good marketing is equal parts creativity and data. So how do you build up both skill sets in your staff so they can advance into bigger, better roles as you help grow the company? How will you clear your desk enough to get to those bigger initiatives?
Prioritize project management. Whether it's project work or retainer work, Verrah project managers spend significant time refining their team's overall workloads, responding to team questions and providing direct team support. These aren't necessarily billable hours to clients, but they're invaluable to us. The first priority of a Verrah project manager is to manage client expectations. A close second is to manage expectations of the project team and provide appropriate resources. Team members see how it's done, and then implement it themselves.
Value both sides of the coin. We find that people generally come to us from one of two camps: A) they were the only ones at their previous company who had any idea how to work a spreadsheet, so they became obsessively great at it or B) they never had any control over the workload, so they got accustomed to a continuous fire drill environment. At Verrah, we place a huge emphasis on training and cross-training. "She's never on time — you know, she's a creative," is an utterance that starts from a completely unacceptable premise. While people might have different core responsibilities, being creative is no excuse for being unable to manage your time, and being a data analyst doesn't excuse you from appreciating what goes into creative content production. If you're not training your staff holistically, you'll always be recruiting managers from outside, or asking someone with half an understanding to manage the whole picture.
Listen. Give staff a chance to be heard — you never know what you'll learn. We can't add anything here that hasn't already been said a thousand times. Whether it's about overtime or project strategy, don't deny yourself the power of a team of people eager to provide a stellar insight or suggestion that gets implemented to great success. What your staff says gives you important clues to their skill set gaps, identifies unsung heroes and alerts you to looming crises.
Lead. Avoid decision-by-committee. Listen thoughtfully to input, ask questions and ruminate if you have to. But decide, and let the buck stop with you. You might not always be right. But be decisive and clear. Then refer to #3. Leadership gives your team not only something to get behind, but something to aspire to.
Delegate. Don't be afraid to teach someone how to do your job, or parts of it. If you see potential in someone, give them a small assignment that gives both of you feedback on what could go better next time or an indication that more could be taken on. Then build on it. If you often feel like "there's not enough time in the day," this would be a good one to focus on. It's a little more work at the outset, but the dividends are amazing.