Future Marketing Manager – A checklist for success and how to get promoted

At the January 2019 presentation of the popular Future Marketing Manager course at Professional Marketing Forum, one of the group exercises was to write a checklist of what marketing and business development executives needed to do to be promoted to and successful as managers. So here is a checklist for success and how to get promoted.

Checklist for success

This is a combined list of things that the delegates suggested you need to do in order to achieve success and get promoted:

Develop your personal credentials

  1. Be confident and inspire confidence in others. Be authentic, personable and approachable
  2. Obtain marketing and business development qualifications (see http://kimtasso.com/students/marketing/) Keep abreast of technology developments and the impact on marketing, business development and your firm’s business model
  3. Develop broad management knowledge about finance, human resources, technology etc so you see systemic impact and promote cross-firm collaboration
  4. Continue to learn new things and step outside your comfort zone every day – learn about the services provided by your fee-earners and their clients and markets
  5. Think about the image you convey and how others perceive you – develop your personal brand (see http://kimtasso.com/building-personal-brand-key-person-influence-daniel-priestley/)
  6. Be more commercial (see http://kimtasso.com/commerciality-finance-pricing-innovation-and-research/)

Communicate effectively

  1. Develop empathy with the fee-earners – learn about their work, their clients, their markets, their services and their challenges. See things from their perspective. There are many posts on emotional intelligence and forging better business relationships
  2. Ask questions to show interest and to learn – and listen attentively to the responses
  3. Be assertive in stating your needs and opinions (see http://kimtasso.com/getting-want-say-no-assertiveness-skills/)
  4. Build your network and strong relationships within and beyond your team
  5. Learn how to understand and respond to “difficult” behaviour and to prevent conflict arising

Be goal focused and strategic

  1. See the bigger picture – think more strategically (see http://kimtasso.com/strategic-thinking-audits-assumptions-alignment/)
  2. Align your goals to those of the firm and practice groups
  3. Set out goals for all projects and show the results. Focus on the outputs rather than the inputs (see http://kimtasso.com/productivity-inputs-vs-outputs/ )
  4. Adopt a structured approach to projects (e.g. Analyse, Plan/Prepare, Implement, Measure)
  5. Prepare, communicate and monitor plans

Take responsibility

  1. Manage expectations – both for yourself and for others. What is realistic?
  2. Gain buy-in from stakeholders so that they support and champion you (see http://kimtasso.com/10-key-points-all-about-buy-in-in-professional-services-manchester-and-dublin-2019/)
  3. Take ownership and responsibility for getting things done
  4. Ensure you evaluate risks and prepare contingency plans
  5. Practice good delegation (see http://kimtasso.com/delegation-for-leaders/) and feedback skills (see http://kimtasso.com/art-giving-feedback/)
  6. Take care of yourself and others (consider work-life balance and stress prevention)
  7. Make time for the important things rather than simply reacting to urgent things
  8. Develop leadership skills

Be creative

  1. Be curious, ask questions and challenge the status quo (ask “Why?”)
  2. Adopt different mental models and look to other sectors for inspiration
  3. Use creative methods to formulate and find solutions for problems (see http://kimtasso.com/creativity-4-enhancing-creativity-using-leonardo-da-vincis-seven-methods/)
  4. Identify opportunities for innovation
  5. Cross-pollinate ideas around the firm with good internal communications
  6. Promote a culture of knowledge-sharing and collaboration

How to get promoted?

“How to get promoted” is a question that arises in many training sessions at Professional Marketing Forum (https://www.pmforum.co.uk/training.aspx). And there are almost as many different answers as there are firms and people. However, in all situations you need to take responsibility for your career progression and actively manage your development.

Write down your goals and develop a plan

Psychologists argue that you should write down your goals – know what you want to achieve and when – and visualise what success would look like. Psychologists don’t know why buy it seems that when people write down their goals they are more likely to achieve them.

It is also helpful to have a plan. At the session, I suggested that you apply a simple planning process to yourself:

  1. Where am I now?
  2. Where do I want to be? (both in the long term and the short term)
  3. How will I get there?

Know the differences in large and small firms

There are different opportunities and processes for gaining promotion depending on whether you are with a large or small professional practice and whether it is sophisticated in its approach to marketing and business development careers.

Larger professional service firms will have outlined the qualifications, competencies, skills and experience that are required for progression. When things are transparent it is straightforward to compare yourself to the standard outlined and work out what you must do in order to progress.  The downside is that in a larger team there will be more competition for promotion.

In smaller professional services there will be smaller teams with a perceived lack of opportunities for progression – the “dead man’s shoes” scenario where there is only one manager role and it is already filled. There are various strategies here – perhaps adopting a particular area of responsibility or major project so that you can be promoted to lead a team in that area as it emerges. Sometimes executives can take responsibility for a particular office or practice group and that can lead to the appointment of juniors to assist and ultimately your own promotion.

Generate results

Ensure that you are goal focused in your work. Set out clear objectives when you start a project or campaign and measure the results. Collect evidence of what you have achieved. Make everything you do measurable and be accountable for your contribution and results. An evidence-based approach to describing the value you generate is convincing. Where your role make it difficult to show direct results (e.g. team based Account Based Marketing), gather information about the process – how much work was achieved over a period of time, how you improved efficiency or your specific contribution.

Speak to people

Talk about your aspirations with your line manager and/or the human resources department. They may be able to provide you with feedback on what you need to do to develop and improve in order to qualify for promotion. They should be able to help you obtain the experience you need and prepare your case for promotion at the appropriate time.

Find a buddy or mentor or create a peer support group. Connect with people in similar firms who are also seeking promotion. Having people who are one step removed from your position and who can provide an objective view and share their experiences will make the shared journey better.

Develop your networking skills (see http://kimtasso.com/book-review-business-networking-survival-guide-will-kintish/) and learn how to tap into the wisdom of the crowd. Build your social media network  (see http://kimtasso.com/social-media-in-business-development-a-guide-for-lawyers/). Good contacts within and beyond your firm are a valuable currency.

Learn how to ask people for help http://kimtasso.com/book-review-reinforcements-how-to-get-people-to-help-you-by-heidi-grant/

Build a success-focused CV

Remember that outputs (results) are more important than the inputs (process). So ensure that as you build your CV you show the responsibilities for each role and around 3-4 key achievements in each roles. Quantify the results if at all possible to show that you take a goal-focused approach.

Know what’s important

Sometimes it helps to create cognitive dissonance. If feel and act as a manager so that others perceive you that way then they may feel compelled to promote you to match the perception.

You are assessed on different things at junior level promotions to senior level promotions – make sure you are pitching yourself accordingly. Success in early management positions is often associated with: independence, ability to control short term results, creativity, ambition and high standards, speciality strength and being contentious (taking a stand). Success in more senior leadership positions is often associated with: being a team player, having longer term strategic vision, managing the creativity of others, self-esteem, general management skills and creating unity and cohesion. (Adapting to the environment – Centre of Creative Leadership).