Last week, we told you about how to identify the worst marketers on your team. But that raises an inevitable question: how do you identify the best marketers you have? The best trait to measure isn’t agility, it’s something else – and you can test yourself for it here.
To recap where we’ve been so far: most marketing organizations are responding to a faster-paced consumer environment by – at least from a staffing perspective – by seeking “agile” marketers: in other words, digitally-savvy employees that love change, fast-decision making, and experimentation; and are willing to learn, network, and collaborate to adapt to changing consumer realities. But as we told you last week, people with all of these characteristics do not exist – and people that only have some of these characteristics are some of the worst-performing marketers on teams today. One of the most dangerous things marketing leaders can do, from a hiring perspective, is focus their energies on “agile” marketers.
So if the common focus on agility will lead to bad outcomes, how should marketing leaders be focusing their hiring plans? In our survey of over 500 marketers within large B2C organizations, one group of out of the five we identified consistently outperformed their peers according to manager evaluations: focusers (see graphic at right).
Focusers don’t have a lot in common with agile marketers. Where agile marketers’ main characteristic is speed, the focuser’s main trait is probably best referred to by the word grit. Wikipedia has a good overview of what grit is here, but the basic idea is simple: gritty people are passionate about long-term goals, and are strongly motivated to achieve them – persevering despite setbacks, ambiguity, and lack of feedback. We’ve put together a slightly-modified version of a grit test originally created by Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania – test yourself, and get a better sense of what grit is.
Why do gritty people succeed? Well, in today’s chaotic environment, the number one driver of marketer success is the ability to crowd out distractions. I don’t think it’s being uncharitable to suggest that marketers, on the whole, love to be distracted by everything going on in the consumer and technology worlds. We love to read the latest news about Facebook and Twitter and demographic analyses of emerging key customer groups; emerging new social platforms and channels often spur unjustified effort and spend. The key to being a successful marketer in today’s environment is the ability to shut out these distractions and maintain unbroken focus on achieving a limited number of goals – preferably those linked closely with measures of corporate profitability.
We see marketing leaders having three key roles in creating gritty marketing teams. Since grit is generally not trainable, you must begin to shift hiring and performance review criteria to reward grit. Since only 9% of marketers have sufficient grit to thrive in today’s volatile environment, leaders must begin to provide their teams with more structured environments, crowding out distractions by making correct goals more compelling. And finally, to ensure more effective decision making, leaders must provide their teams the tools to combine data and judgment. We’ll have more on each of these goals in the coming weeks.
MLC members – what do you think? Let us know in comments, and take the grit test to see if you have what it takes.