And the Oscar goes to....your team?
Published on 05/04/2023
Tips and tricks on how you too can help grow your team to extraordinary heights
I have been told my training methods are a bit unorthodox.
Not because I am a tyrant, but because I can thoughtfully push my team to their limits without overwhelming them in the process. My goal as a manager is to inspire others to want to continue to enhance their marketing cloud skills and take pride in what they build.
Before we dig into my tips on inspiring and developing an award winning team. Yes, award winning. My current team has been a part of winning Oscars for Olympics coverage and my previous team was recognized by MediaPost for our marketing initiatives during COVID when no one was buying shoes. I have somewhere around 16 years of experience working in marketing cloud and 6 years leading digital communications teams. I have covered industries from biotech to retail to media while leading teams with humility and integrity. I am a tough but supportive manager who never hesitates to sing my team’s praises to leadership and remind them they are valued team members.
One of the easiest ways to inspire a team is to show them the value they bring back to the business. More often than not, when I join a team the CRM team has no idea the impact they are making on an email program, which in turn, makes an impact on the company’s bottom line. I am a champion for team collaborations and make it a point to break down the walls previously established. I call out the successes of all teams when reporting to leadership and when allowed I invite those teams typically excluded to attend these calls and hear me sing their praises. This is not only limited to my internal teams, but our agency partners as well. When people see they bring value to a project, they feel more invested in its success. When they feel more invested in our success, I have more to showcase to leadership. Showing other teams the value they bring to your team builds trust across the company and makes future collaboration an exciting proposal and not just another task on their project management tool.
This highlights another import skill for a manager. Leading with humility. Are you a manager who is never wrong or never makes a mistake? Well, then you are managing wrong. If there is one thing COVID lockdown taught us, it's that everyone is human. People make mistakes, and people scared to make mistakes make EVEN MORE mistakes. As a leader I feel that any mistakes my team makes are a reflection on my leadership. This means I am not afraid to take the fall for any mistakes they make. Anytime, all the time, no exceptions. If there is an exception then we go to leadership together. (Mainly so they can answer any questions that I cannot on my own) The point here is I am by their side and not driving the proverbial bus they are under.
There is a rule on my team that if you are coming to me with an issue, please have started to also think of possible solutions. Meltdowns are fine, when appropriate, but we are going to gather ourselves after and find potential solutions. I am your manager and your leader, but not your mom. My two college age children have a similar rule now that they are becoming functional adult humans. I am here to help you problem solve and learn to become a more independent problem solver. It is hard to be a hands off parent and a hands off manager, but practice makes improvement. Don’t forget to celebrate the win when you find a solution together.
Listen when your team speaks up during calls. Are there projects or topics that catch their attention? When my email specialists feel stuck, I pull out a coding exercise that I have seen catch their interest and see if they can recreate the build. When a developer thinks they have mastered a new skill, I have another one waiting in the wings. I spend time every month making sure I have a backlog of skills for each team member prepared for when I see they need a nudge.
There are so many fun experimental pieces of content you all will likely never see in an NBCSports newsletter, but my team now has the skills to bring it up when we want to try something a little different to prevent subscriber fatigue.
Leave room for errors. When your team feels safe to experiment and make mistakes, their productivity increases as well. “But Corrina, we are in a time crunch” you say? This is where years of experience comes into play. I have created a library of common projects I have completed over the years. Any project that I know is going to stretch a team member, I have a backup version I can share as an example or that I can leverage to quickly build a solution alongside the team member. My team is not afraid to tell me they are overwhelmed and need me to show them how to complete a task. I do not get upset that they have been challenged beyond their comfort zone and need to ask for assistance. This is how we grow as a team and feel supported by each other.
Make learning fun for your team and acknowledge the work they are putting in to improve their value to the business. As I have already mentioned, I have a library of example and code snippets. I share those on a public location within the company so that anyone can go in and look for a skill they might want to learn. Not only do I have a library but some of the skills I have planted easter eggs within the account to acknowledge that someone is trying out one of my AMPscript blocks or SQL queries. Sport McSports fan has lots of fun data if you know how to find him with SQL. Did you forget to put in a fall back for your AMP, well then sheriff cat is here to remind you that there is additional content still to add.
Finally, and the one my team likes the most; have a Mary Poppins’ bag of some kind. Mine is literal since I only see them a few times a year. I usually come with gifts of some sort that I have picked up at industry or sporting events. I also have a figurative version. As in, I always have a positive bit of feedback handy when they need it most. If you don’t think you can have a bag of surprises, just reach out to your vendors. Most are more than happy to send your team swag on your behalf. If you want to get fancy, like me, keep an eye out for items on sale that you know would cheer up your team and then store it for a special day.
When I joined NBCSports I was provided 10 leadership principles for Operations and Technology. These 10 principles have helped me define my leadership principles as tangible and measurable objectives. There are a few that my team live by that I feel every team could leverage.
These are just a few of the ways I approach management and leadership. None of them have anything to do with coding, I can teach just about anyone to build an email or write AMPScript, but the way I treat them as their leader and mentor is what keeps them from burning out too quickly and looking for new opportunities.
Be on the lookout for a future post where I break down my learning library and give you an inside look at the materials I use to teach email development and Salesforce Marketing Cloud skills internally to build a team industry leading email specialists.