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Want to improve your marketing operations? Make everyone on the team a coach

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Want to improve your marketing operations? Make everyone on the team a coach


Marketing operations are the driving force behind a company’s marketing technology implementations and processes. Successfully managing complex marketing operations efforts takes a capable, agile and tech-savvy team, which is difficult to build and maintain in today’s constantly evolving martech space.

“There are so many different systems and processes happening concurrently that it’s easy for critical things to go undone or breaks in the systems to go unnoticed,” said Kimi Corrigan, head of marketing operations for Duo Security at Cisco, “There is no room for ambiguity around responsibilities or communications in this function.”

Corrigan said she wants her team to always feel ownership over their work while, at the same time, knowing they have her full-support when needed. To keep her marketing ops team operating at full tilt, Corrigan centers her management style on coaching versus managing.

Next month, Corrigan will do a deep dive into how she leads Duo’s marketing ops team during her “How to Organize and Coach Outstanding Marketing Operations Teams” talk at our MarTech Conference in Boston. In advance of her session, Corrigan offered insights into her managing style, how she onboards new employees and why radical candor is a must.

Make everyone a coach

“Marketing operations teams are tasked with a unique and vast set of responsibilities. People on my team have such a wide range of skills that they need to apply in many different ways,” said Corrigan, “Continually coaching alongside of them as they navigate this wide breadth of projects and interactions tends to yield great results rather than just managing in a traditional sense.”

Corrigan makes sure everyone on her team shares coaching responsibilities.

“I work to coach each person on my team as it relates to their responsibilities and skill-set, and encourage each of them to own coaching those on our team whenever they have an opportunity.”

In addition to coaching other members of the marketing ops team, her staff is also encouraged to coach others they may be working with on cross-functional projects.

“The more we all learn, the more we all win. When this coaching mindset is known to be in practice, these interactions don’t come off as telling others what to do, but as let me help you, and also, please help me.”

Comprehensive onboarding for new employees

As part of her coaching methodology, everyone on Corrigan’s team is involved with the onboarding process for new employees.

“Our team uses a 12-week onboarding process with specific systems, tasks and goals laid out week-to-week. When we have a new team member, we clone our onboarding template and spend time customizing it based on the specific role and experience.”

New staff members are introduced to different systems and meet with cross-functional teams and are also required to take initiative and schedule time with employees — both within marketing ops and external teams.

“From the beginning, I believe it’s important for those new to the team to take ownership of their day-to-day and contributions to the organization,” said Corrigan.

Leading with radical candor

For Corrigan, a key to successfully managing a team is being able to give and receive honest feedback.

“Radical candor can be hard to deliver sometimes, but the more you practice it, the safer it becomes,” said Corrigan, “The first few times you share this feedback, you may see fear or defensiveness. But once you coach them through why they are getting the feedback — what you and their teammates are going to do to help them work through it, and what the expectations are — you will see them begin to welcome open and honest conversations in both directions.”

She said she practices this code of honesty with her team and encourages them to practice it as well — both with her and other staff.

“Set the expectation that their team and work is a safe place to try, fail, succeed, try again, share and celebrate.”


More about the MarTech Conference

About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land, Search Engine Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.


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