As a marketing executive, how do you respond to any major transition? Like most, you develop a strategy, build a plan, prepare, and get started. That’s what executives do. But transitions come in many shapes and sizes. Some self-initiated, by joining a new team as CMO. Others imposed, by new executive management. Although the scenarios are drastically different, you should still take the time to talk to peers who have faced similar challenges, analyze your team, gain alignment with the executive team, identify obstacles, and fine-tune your strategy.
Being prepared, informed, and aligned will improve your probability of success. Your tenure will often be defined by how you approach your first 30-60-90 days, which offer both the flexibility of a “honeymoon period” and the opportunity to focus on three critical areas: your stakeholder relationships, your team, and your time management strategy.
Get aligned with your stakeholders.
You probably already know who your stakeholders are, but do you have a plan around them? How will you satisfy your CEO? How will you build a strong ally with the head of sales? How will you partner with finance or IT? You need to connect your priorities to stakeholders to understand their influence and support of your overall goals and priorities. This exercise can help you build a conscious strategy for managing support, avoiding spending time where it’s not needed.
If you are joining a new team, align your expectations before you accept the position. Don’t wait for Day 1 to discover divergent visions for the role — particularly when they’re misaligned with your interests or inhibit your level of influence. If your executive management team is changing, quickly re-baseline your strategy with the incoming executive team, enabling you to incorporate changes based on shifting mandates.
Foster relationships across your sphere of influence (i.e., VP Product/Solutions Marketing, VP Marcom, VP Corporate/Field Marketing, etc.) and with core executive stakeholders (i.e., CEO, CRO/Sales, CFO, CPO, and CIO) to create political currency and trust that will pay dividends over the course of your tenure.
Manage your team.
Managing talent has never been easy. With the increased rate of digital marketing change, you’ve got to get your team up to speed as fast as possible. Too often, we’ve found CMOs come into a role:
- Optimizing operations versus transforming their team/talent. You must make staffing moves quickly – the sooner you find the right talent to support your priorities, the better. Having the wrong people on your team for too long can end up hurting your overall effort more than you might think. Don’t let a talent situation fester.
- Overly optimistic on the capabilities of their team. Don’t worry about ruffling feathers – be a leader and make your talent moves quickly. Whether it’s making plans to re-skill good people or finding the right person for the role your organization really needs, doing it within the first six months pays off.
Manage your time.
In a new job, it can be hard to pull out of the details. Create plans that emphasize a handful of strategic objectives that are going to make the biggest difference and dedicate yourself to those goals. Emphasize early wins to prove assertions, exercise and understand team dynamics, and gain legitimacy for subsequent investments.
You can easily find yourself spending the bulk of your time in meetings and with people throughout the organization trying to connect with you. Don’t allow yourself to be drown with firefighting instead of making steady progress on your goals.
As a new CMO, you can’t manage your time the way you did in other roles. Be decisive, focused, and a leader.
Interested in learning more about key traits of today’s CMO? Check out, “Key Traits of Growth-Oriented CMOs” (Gartner subscription required).