Sanity Check #1: Marketing communications with other teams
I gotta say, kind of love the title of this blog - Sanity Check with the number because we all know we can't have too many checks on our sanity.
Alright, Sanity Check #1 is a soft skill...*drumroll*...how Marketers can better talk/collaborate with other teams.
Now, you're maybe thinking, "I can communicate fine"...can you? Think about the last meeting you had as a Marketer with your Engineer cohort. How about the Product or Brand team? We all have different minds, and that's a great thing. Our brains work differently and our priorities are/can be different when striving for company goals. Some of us Marketers have a coding-type of background so we can understand where our Engineer counterparts are coming from, how long some work could take, effort involved in strategizing solutions, etc. Some of us have worked in multiple industries so we can understand the lift a Product or Brand team may need when prioritizing quarterly goals that involve things we need. But, not all of us do and that's where patience and the age old NO-NO come in - "Can't you just do X do make Y happen?" (hint: the answer is always "no").
Think about the last time you spoke with another team and think about the terms they used to describe a process or their planning. Now, think about what you said and the terms you used to describe a process. How much did each of you understand and did anyone get frustrated?
Sanity Check #1 Rule: Always listen and digest.
Other teams who think differently and/or have different goal paths than us also have different a different dictionary, much like us Marketers. Yes, the communication process goes both ways but it has to start somewhere before we bulldoze Leadership with "I try hard to communicate with X team. It would be nice if the effort was mutual." As Marketers, a big responsibility is to understand our audience. Take that same effort, strategizing, and process into your internal syncs/meetings with other teams and it'll blow your mind how seamless marketing communications with other teams can be; it's continually doing our job internally and externally because we are/can be pretty fantastic communicators whether it's meetings, Slack GIFs, or effectively doing our jobs.
Remember the age old NO-NO - "Can't you just do X do make Y happen?"...let's stop saying that. Next time try - "I know I'm confused because there's a learning curve for me here. Can you help me understand how we can make Y happen? I'm not sure of the effort involved on your end and it would help me better strategize some paths on my end so I can help you with more info or anything you need from me." It's collaborating. It's a little empathy. It's swallowing a little pride in order to collaborate and learn. It helps because not only are you softening some possible tension but you are both about learn and teach aka grow in your fields, sometimes without even realizing it.
There is no harm in setting aside 15-30 minutes with a teammate on another team you've been working with or trying to work with, with the lone goal of showing them around your ESP/CRM so they can better understand why you need certain product/brand tasks prioritized and why you ask for certain access or data, and/or asking them to give you a crash course in how they plan, have to prioritize work, or the steps involved in building something. Not only will this open up a conversation but you will both learn and teach. A lot of us are visual learners and masters of our specific fields, learning and teaching helps expand our knowledge in a soft skill manner because it makes us communicate what is complicated for someone in a simplified (not condescending) manner.
There is never a scenario where you can just do X to make Y happen. Think of "just" as a bad word and throw that phrase in the trash. Mini TedTalk done.
To end this first Sanity Check, the part I love most about honing and finessing soft skills is the personal growth. These tips will help you professionally and it will take patience but soft skills are personal and professional. Understanding how to speak to different people expands your circle, confidence, and can sometimes even help with stress levels (go ahead...ask me how I know). Not everyone knows what you know and some people don't understand that. We don't know what we don't know and the only way we will know even a little bit of what we don't know is by communicating, listening, and learning. Baby steps is what will help you, me, us better converse the complicated into a simple form (remember, not condescendingly). We may not all be school teachers, but we all do teach every day in one way or another. It's why there are SMEs (subject matter experts) and good SMEs are great teachers - in order to grow, you need to understand, and in order to understand, you need to learn, in order to learn, you need to be taught, and in order to be taught, you need to be able to listen.
I could go on forever about the importance of listening and digesting in order to better communicate and collaborate. Not everyone is great at it, and even less are good at it. Why? Because some people get comfortable in their ways and change can be hard. This is where those parts about baby steps and patience comes in.
How to hear feedback and criticism is for another day. For now:
Listen. Collaborate. Teach. Repeat.
- LP out