Being questioned is hard.
When other departments or employees in a company start to question our marketing teams, a natural response is to curl up into defensiveness mode. We assume that other teams just don’t understand us or our brilliant plans, and consequently we further block the flow of information about what we’re doing.
This is the opposite of what we need to do.
Information is hard to come by in most companies. Most teams don’t quite know what other teams are working on, but since teams are interdependent, most teams want to know. The questions are innocent, but most real doubts begin when marketing teams don’t answer questions and make information hard to find. Doubts turn into a lack of confidence quickly.
The answer is radical openness.
My team has taken an approach of making a large part of our planning and analysis available to anyone in our company who might want to view it. We answer questions and take feedback from anyone in the company, and anyone in the company can expect us to take the time to explain why we do certain things a certain way, why we’re prioritizing a certain project, and the like.
There are several things my team has done to be radically open:
- We share our updated weekly to-do’s and priorities (a Trello board) in a public Slack channel
- We share a weekly update and weekly marketing stats slide deck to the whole company (also available in Slack)
- Before sharing certain content publicly, we get several pairs of eyes to review it, often across teams
- Other team members can access our priorities list on Trello and request a new project or deliverable for future prioritization
- We (sometimes – though we should do it more) provide explicit “why’s” of certain procedures or policies when distributing them to other teams
- We previously joined a designer and developer “standup” meeting daily to share work updates and stay in sync with the work of members on other teams.
What’s the worst that can happen if we’re radically open about our work? Someone might find a mistake, or someone not from our department may point out a way we could be doing things better.
This is a good outcome, but it’s not one we would expect to get if we hid and defended our plans and our results. We should let people in – they will help us, support us, and believe in us more if we believe in our marketing teams enough to be open.