Today’s work environment requires nimble teams that can work – and think – across functions to produce innovative solutions for complex problems. And, marketing teams are often the drivers of that type of collaboration.
Accountability and curiosity are two key elements that I’ve found to keep teams using both sides of the brain to be productive and creative.
To establish accountability among team members, I use three tactics:
- Set clear expectations
- Teach what accountability means
- Demonstrate trust in the judgment and abilities of team members
Setting expectations comes in ongoing discussions about priorities in both structured and informal settings on a daily and weekly basis.
And, to make sure everyone is starting from the same place, holding periodic team sessions on defining accountability has proven helpful for cross-functional teams. When I first launched a department-wide snack & learn series on accountability, people groaned and rolled their eyes. After the first series, the team’s enthusiasm for the experience led to other departments asking to be included and the series was expanded company-wide.
Demonstrating trust means giving clear direction along with autonomy, and trusting your team to know when to “ask for forgiveness” and “when to ask for permission”.
The love of learning for the sake of learning often gets squeezed out of corporate environments when too much focus is placed on the immediate- and near-term.
To foster a culture of curiosity, I’ve found it helpful to establish a framework for deliberate learning. Give people permission to carve out time to think, explore, and investigate new ideas, technologies, and skill sets and team members. It’s a “pressure valve” for team members and pays off with innovative thinking and paths to collaboration on new ideas.
One example of carving out time is a book club-style team reading of “Talk Like TED” to help hone presentation skills, with each team member having responsibility for leading the discussion on one chapter.
Another example is quarterly think tank sessions with team members leading on a rotating basis to scrub consumer trends and propose ideas of applying the trends to our industry and competitive situation. Some ideas were completely unrealistic, but they led to other options that were viable – and that was the point.
And, in the heyday of the “Good to Great” book launch, I structured an entire retreat around the principles that Jim Collins presented in his bestseller.
What works for specific teams and cultures will vary, but deliberate focus on curiosity and exploration will reward both individual team members and the organization as a whole.