How to build a winning team: what talents marketing leaders should look for when hiring

SUSANNE GURMAN-01

By: Susanne Gurman, SVP of Marketing, SecurityScorecard

Team dynamics are extremely important in building a successful team. How a team interacts, communicates, and works together has a dramatic impact on how successful a team is in meeting its goals.

The elements that foster great team dynamics are leadership, skill timing and selection, diversity and inclusion, and similar work ethics.  These are what I focus on when building a stellar marketing team.

Here is a guide on how I have leveraged these elements to maintain a 98% retention rate and help scale revenue at several businesses.

It All Starts With Leadership

As the leader, winning teams start and stop with you. Without setting the tone and direction from the top, it doesn’t matter how great your team members are; things are susceptible to going awry. Solid leadership to effectively motivate and cultivate good team dynamics is the most important of the elements.

Read More: Building an Adaptable Team That Embraces Change Management

It’s the trickle-down economics effect on productivity. Here’s what every team member should expect from leadership:

  • Well-communicated expectations: What is expected of the team? What is expected from each role within the team?  Are our goals both established and known? What are the ways in which your team should operate, communicate, and interact with one another and others?
  • Resources: Ensure everyone has the resources necessary to effectively do their job. Failure brought on by the lack of funding, management support, or general resources to achieve goals is a sure way to lose good talent.
  • Earned Respect and Trust: No one will try hard for a manager or leader they don’t trust or respect. Respect and trust can only be earned, so do right by the team by being as transparent as possible and supporting both their personal and professional career development.
  • A Safe Place: Make it clear that it’s okay to take risks, even if they don’t always pan out. We’re human; we make mistakes. Mistakes are not what define a person but rather their response to them. Slightly different to this point is failing. Without the support of failure, your team cannot grow through trying new things. So let them know it’s okay to fail.

The right skills at the right time

It’s all about looking at hard truths and forecasting into the future.  Employees typically have a “sweet spot” of when and where they add value to a company.  Some folks thrive under the loosely tied ambiguity of a startup.  Others do well when they have the infrastructure of a large organization fueling their efforts.

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Knowing what range of size, growth, or industry that a person thrives within is important.  The hard truth for a leader is both identifying your own range and those of your team.  It doesn’t result in an automatic parting of ways should the company move out of someone’s sweet spot.

The alternative is to appropriately forecast when additional talent is needed to fill gaps brought on by change or growth.

The timing of this is critical, as you can have a negative impact if you are too early or too late. Too early and you’re left with an individual with not enough resources to do their job. Too late, and you’ve not only missed revenue opportunities but subjected your existing team to burnout via their efforts to fill the gaps.

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion have so many benefits. The more unique perspectives you bring to the team, the savvier they will be when developing ways to approach their challenges and goals.

If everyone on the team comes from similar backgrounds, you will miss an entire world of experiences and cultures that broaden perspective. If everyone comes to a situation with the same set of experiences, you have limited your team’s ability to creatively find ways to solve problems or innovate to gain advantages.

Similar work ethics

You may have noticed that while the word ‘talent’ is in this article’s title, I haven’t mentioned it as a criterion for a winning team.  Yes, the talents needed for marketers to continue to evolve, and both a technical and analytical background would serve everyone in marketing well regardless of their tenor.

However, while you need folks to have skills to do their job, there are certain things that you can’t teach.  Those are what I seek when building my team.  I can teach anyone to be a good marketer.

I can’t teach someone to be team-oriented, passionate, honest, hardworking, disciplined, appreciative, and accountable.  These characteristics are what make great employees.

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Building a winning team is half the battle. Maintaining one through growth, change, or simply just over time, is the bulk of where the effort comes in.

I can speak from experience that if you continue to put your time and focus into these areas, the results will be more than worth it.