A key theme arising at the March PM Forum “Future Marketing/Business Development Manager” (with delegates from legal, accountancy and consultancy firms) was about being overwhelmed. There were conversations about overwhelmed marketing/BD managers, overwhelmed M&BD teams and overwhelmed fee-earners. Often this was due to heavy and growing workloads – with many conflicting priorities between managing day-to-day operational demands and taking a more strategic approach towards the future. A key skill for a future marketing/BD manager – Build resilience to avoid being overwhelmed.
The tyranny of the “To Do” list
The “to do” lists of future M&BD managers can be extensive with items such as:
- Research and anticipate future market and client changes
- Initiate (or progress or complete) an array of projects
- Develop and implement plans
- Expand or develop the team
- Tackle critical data/infrastructure projects
- Respond quickly to all fee-earner requests
- Learn new stuff to stay up to date
- Behave differently
You might feel overwhelmed because:
- You’re doing it all on your own
- You’re not sure exactly what’s expected
- You’re not sure of the best approach
- You don’t believe it is the right course of action
- You’ve set expectations too high
- You can’t control all the factors
While it’s gratifying to be known as the “Go to Guy (or Gal)” – it can be a problem as your day is filled with helping everyone who asks for help! Here there is a need to establish clear boundaries about who, when and how you are able to help. Boundaries at Work: 4 Types of Work Boundaries – 2023 – MasterClass
What to do if you (or your team members) feel overwhelmed?
Being overwhelmed causes stress. And stress damages both mental and physical health. So we need to prevent ourselves and our team members from feeling stressed. Creativity and good and bad stress – Kim Tasso
There’s a great article from Harvard Business Review “Five things to do when you feel overwhelmed by your workload” (August 2018). Author Alice Boyes PhD is a former clinical psychologist turned writer and the author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit, The Anxiety Toolkit, and Stress-Free Productivity. Key points include:
- Practice your acceptance skills with healthy self-talk: ”Even though I have many things to do, I can only focus on the one thing I’m doing right now”
- Track your time to give yourself an accurate baseline (Large-scale research indicates that the proportion of people working over 60 hours per week is quite small, at around 6%)
- Check your assumptions about other people’s expectations Strategic thinking – Audits, assumptions and alignment (kimtasso.com)
- Examine your assumptions about what success requires
- Start taking time off now instead of waiting for the “right” time
Another great article Overwhelmed at Work? 3 Quick Steps to Feel Better Now | HuffPost Life mentions managing your HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired) and then
- Make the Invisible, Visible (Write down tasks)
- Pile It (Write your projects down as single items on individual Post-Its. Once you have your stack of Post-Its create three distinct piles (“Today”/”This Week”/”The Future”). By creating time boundaries based on “must do” rather than “should do,” you are one step closer to getting back in control)
- The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow (Clean your desk, set up everything for a successful tomorrow and log out of Outlook)
There’s a great book with lots of advice on how to ask for and receive help Reinforcements: How to get people to help you by Heidi Grant (kimtasso.com). There are tips on time management: 35 tips to improve Time Management for busy professionals (kimtasso.com) and how to release time become a more proactive Marketing and Business Development Executive (kimtasso.com). Another great book is: Crazy busy – Book review – Dealing with stress (kimtasso.com)
Bring strategic focus – Choose where to invest your time
A strategic focus enables you to decide where best to invest your time to have the greatest impact. It can help to prioritise and reduce the chances of being overwhelmed and stressed. You might consider:
- What’s important to your senior management team?
- What’s important to your fee-earners?
- What’s important to your clients?
- Where can I have the biggest impact?
- What are our goals?
Look to the business plan and departmental plans. Prepare a strategic M&BD plan. Strategy forces us to make choices. It helps us match internal strengths and resources with the external environment and opportunities. It reduces the chances of being overwhelmed.
Other resilience posts
Change the role of the manager
We also considered a 2018 article from Harvard Business Review (HBR) on “The role of the manager has to change in 5 key ways”. This explained that the five basic functions associated with management (Henri Fayol) of planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling must move from:
- Directive to instructive (explore AI – learning not knowledge will power organisations)
- Restrictive to expansive (delegate, don’t micromanage – draw out everyone’s best thinking)
- Exclusive to inclusive (bring a diverse set of thinking styles to bear on challenges)
- Repetitive to innovative
- Problem-solving to challenging
You need to move from being an employer to being an entrepreneur – expand your perception and increase your action to be more future-facing.
Delegation skills – supported by coaching skills – help to spread the work amongst the team as well as develop the next generation of marketers and business developers.
On delegation, we also talked about Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey? (hbr.org).
- Focus on your outputs rather than your inputs Productivity – Inputs vs outputs Achieve more by doing less (kimtasso.com)
- Understand how promotion criteria change from junior to senior roles Future Marketing Manager – T-shaped people, senior promotions (kimtasso.com)
- Develop your own brand Future Marketing/BD Manager – Build your personal brand (kimtasso.com)
- Use digital body language to create an inclusive culture Book review: Digital Body Language – How to build trust by Erica Dhawan (kimtasso.com)
- Avoid labelling Two big guns of communication – face time and reframing (kimtasso.com)
- Fake it til you make it – use non-verbal communication to convey confidence Soft skills – Boost your self-confidence and confidence (Video) (kimtasso.com)
- Recognise the difference between management and leadership Future Marketing Manager – T-shaped people, senior promotions (kimtasso.com) or Leadership teams: Maverick Magpies and Predictable Pigeons (kimtasso.com)
- Create an appreciative environment How to facilitate groups – 2 (Herding cats in professional services) (kimtasso.com)
- Eat the frog Self-Motivation – Ten top tips (Video) from Kim Tasso
- Have a five year plan Improving quality and effectiveness of your partnership business plan (kimtasso.com) or How to Create a Five-Year Plan | Indeed.com UK
Favourite quotes/values of the delegates (inspirational quotes)
- Nothing is impossible – the word itself says I’m possible (Audrey Hepburn)
- Treat people as you wish to be treated (The “Golden Rule” was proclaimed by Jesus of Nazareth during his Sermon on the Mount and described by him as the second great commandment. The common English phrasing is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”)
- This too shall pass (Abraham Lincoln)
- I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” (Maya Angelou)
- Your smile can brighten up someone’s day (Syed Badiuzzaman)
- Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid (wrongly attributed to Einstein)
- It’ll work itself out (Guns N Roses)
- You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone (Roy T. Bennett)
- Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional (Dalai Lama)
- It’s OK to ask for help
- Five years on – keep on developing
Congratulations to the team who did a TikTok-worthy dance routine to demonstrate a way to overcome some of the resistance they might receive from reluctant fee-earners. Other teams did equally well in their role play with great non-verbal communication Non-Verbal Communication (NVC) – the basics (Video) (kimtasso.com) and the GPT (Guinea Pig Test).
Throughout the day we also considered how best to structure a M&BD team and a post on this will be produced shortly.