Be the Change – How to Use Open Jobs as Opportunities
As Director of Lifecycle Marketing at VerticalResponse, one of my key responsibilities is to manage an ever-growing and changing team. Our team is comprised of members of all ages, genders, experience levels and tenure. I try to foster an environment of respect, collaboration, learning and of course, a bit of fun along the way.
Managing a highly talented team does have its challenges, though, especially since VR is located at ground zero of technology – the SF Bay Area. Competition for smart people is fierce, and sometimes I find myself faced with the reality of a team member moving on.
What can a manager do when presented with such information? After nearly 2 decades of managing teams, I always sincerely congratulate the person moving on, ask them a few questions about where they’re going, and share in their excitement. Then the reality hits that I only have two weeks to cover all the bases of the role and I find myself thinking, ‘oh crap, how are we going to get all this work done, find and train someone, while still keeping everything going?’ Then I take a deep breath and remind myself that everything always has a way of working out.
I’ve made it a practice that before I spring into action and try to fill an open position, I take some time and think about my entire team. I consider each person’s strengths and opportunity areas. Next, I think about our project road map and what is coming up. Might there be a chance to give someone a new opportunity? A stretched goal? And, what I’ve found when presented with an opening, is that I can use it as a chance to change things up, and as the saying goes, change is good.
Let me give you a few examples: We used to have a few marketing managers that each worked on a specific aspect of our customer lifecycle – one focused on conversion, while the other focused on retention. While this worked for a while, when our conversion manager moved on, we decided to expand the role to a Lifecycle manager who would oversee the entire lifecycle vs. just a portion of it. In growing the role, we were able to offer an opportunity to an experienced manager on the team to expand her skill set, gain a direct report, and it also offered a brand new opportunity to someone else, resulting in a career path that didn’t exist before. Win-win.
When our social media manager left early in 2011, we took a hard look at how our roles were structured and decided to incorporate our community manager and social media manager into one role. While we did have to let a contractor go, we gained a very seasoned social media manager who made an immediate impact and allowed us to better leverage all our social resources resulting in an improved customer experience and increased engagement across the board.
How can you look at openings as an opportunity to provide challenging and rewarding roles for your team that support your business needs as well? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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