Championing Your Team: The Secrets to Success

Jackie Palmer
VP Product and Industry Marketing
Automatic Summary

Championing Your Team for Success: Empowerment, Organization and Relations

Welcome to this comprehensive guide on building and empowering teams for success within the tech industry. This piece shares insights adapted from the experience of Jackie Palmer, experienced VP of Product and Industry Marketing at Demand Base. With over 25 years in the tech industry, Jackie is well equipped to share advice on how to eliminate team silos, enhance meaningful relationships, and position your team for outstanding success.

Empowering Your Team for Success

Empowerment is a crucial aspect to the successful functioning of a team. Often, a deficit in team performance can be attributed to poor communication, low engagement or lack of motivation among team members. Counteracting this issue can start by structuring your team in a way that empowers them, giving them ownership of certain tasks or areas. By doing this, you not only provide a sense of purpose and structure, but also encourage collaboration and specialization.

Ensuring your team has a safe space for open discussions, trial and error, is equally very important. Finally, celebrating successes, either virtually or physically, fosters a positive team spirit and assures your team of their value.

How to Assign Responsibilities

To give you a practical example of how this team structure could look, each team member could have what Jackie considers a "major" and a "minor." This "Major" could entail covering a particular product or industry, and the "minor" could be a specific persona or competitor.

This structure allows each team member to own something and also to share, forcing them to understand at least a bit about what their colleagues specialize in. Having such a system in place not only improves team performance and dynamics but also prepares the team to be more successful in relation to the rest of the organization.

Avoiding Silos and Building Bridges

To build a truly successful team, it's crucial to avoid creating team silos. Encouraging collaboration and cross-team communication helps to create these bridges between teams. Assigning "buddies" on other teams can be one effective strategy to foster this collaboration, giving each team member a safe space and valuable feedback channel in another team.

Moreover, it's important that organizations periodically take temperature checks from other teams to understand how they're being received and where improvements can be made. Such feedback can be solicited through manager to manager requests, or post-mortems on big projects or product launches.

Product Marketing as the Octopus

Consider your team, specifically if it's a product marketing team, as an Octopus, connected to various parts of the organization. The more teams you connect to, the more silos you break down. It's equally crucial to establish connections externally, seeking feedback from customers and the larger community.

Seven Secrets to Success: Improving Relationships Across Teams

Building relationships across teams is not an easy task. However, implementing these seven steps can significantly improve team relations and overall success:

  1. Understanding team strengths and weaknesses
  2. Listen first before reacting
  3. Be Proactive
  4. Always be available
  5. Follow through on commitments
  6. Know when to ask for help
  7. Start small and grow from there

The pursuits of breaking down silos, structuring your team for individual ownership and success, and teaching your team to build relationships across the organization are key ingredients for an empowered and high-performing team.

Remember, the success of a team lies not only in the hard skills of its members but also in the manager's ability to guide, support and foster a collaborative and positive team environment.

Video Transcription

We'll do some introductions. So as people flow in, we'll um they won't miss anything. So welcome everyone. My name is Jackie Palmer. I am the VP of product and industry marketing at demand base. Um But I have a long history in the tech area or industry.Um I don't want to admit how long, but I've been here uh working in the tech industry for more than 25 years um a across a variety of different companies, as you can see, I'm listed here, I got my start in what I would now consider really more my, my sort of forte of product marketing, having spent some time in product management through companies like epiphany in four and then switched into product marketing specifically at terra data and then onwards into Sap conga and demand base.

And I'm here to talk to you today about uh a topic that's near and dear to my heart, which is how to really champion your team for success, how to or your team for the best results, how to, you know, sort of eliminate silos and break down um issues that might happen for your team so that they can be more successful and then how to help your team uh develop meaningful relationships in general.

And that will ultimately lead to better success uh for the team as a whole. So that's the topics that we're, uh those are the topics that we're gonna cover today. I'll try to dive in. If you've got any questions, don't hesitate to put them in the Q and A or the chat and I will, uh I will get to them as I can. But with that, let's get started. Um One of the things that I wanted to talk about was the team structure. And in my history as a, as a team manager, I've noticed that teams that are not performing well, are typically involved in multiple different issues, right? There's either poor communication, there is sort of low engagement from them. And, and if you have AAA team member, that's really sort of less engaged and not excited about coming to work, ultimately, that can affect the whole team as a, as a whole and also the way that that team performs throughout the company, there's also the uh issues of lack of motivation.

If, if people are, are not motivated to be part of that team, if they're not excited to come to work every day, then you can have issues with that team as well. And so one of the things that I think is important to getting the best success out of your team is really structuring them in a way that empowers them and the way that I like to do this is really giving them ownership. So, what I'd like to talk about is majors and minors. And on the next uh slide, I'll show you my team and how we've divvied up the responsibilities. But I excuse me assigning that ownership, it gives them that sense of purpose, gives them that sense of, of uh of structure, but also allows them to share things. So it allows them to share common things across them and it allows them to specialize as well. One of the other things that's important for empowering your team is making sure that they have a safe space that they know that coming together as a team is something where they can excuse me, so they can fail first and nobody on the team is going to uh going to judge them for it.

You've got to have your team be that self, that safe space so that when the team is ultimately presented out to the rest of the organization, they are confident, they are excited, they are motivated and they are successful. Um Speaking of the rest of the organization, you want to definitely make sure that you foster those relationships. I'll talk about that in the next couple of slides as well. And then another big thing about empowering your team is making sure that you celebrate your successes.

We do a great thing on the demand based marketing team every time we have a team meeting, which is that we give each other roses and those can be virtual roses because we're all uh on Slack and on Zoom. But they could also be physical roses if you happen to be in the office. But essentially at the end of every team meeting, we, we go around and, and pat each other on the back for things that we like And we've seen people do uh during that week or that, that two week period and we give each other the rose and say, I wanna give a bunch of roses for Jackie who helped me with this uh particular webinar, for example.

Um So celebrating the successes is a huge opportunity for you to make sure that your team is set up for success. Not only are you showing that, you know, when you give your, your team a rose, when you're showing the other people that are listening throughout the broader uh maybe the broader marketing team in my case that you're still celebrating their success, but you're also demonstrating to them that they have value and that they are uh are definitely valued.

So let me talk a little bit about my team and how I've set that up today here at demand base. What each of us have is we have what I'd like to call a major and a minor. So for example, you can see that my major is that I cover the overall product suite. I also cover analyst relations as my minor. Uh And I have a second minor in the executive persona. Each of my team members also has a major in a particular product because we are a product marketing team or an industry because we do have one industry, product marketer on the team. Um And then they have minors in a specific persona and different competitors. So that's sort of how we've organized our team so that they own something, but they're also shared. So somebody who has to manage one of the competitors as one of their miners does have to understand at least a little bit what some of the other team members specialties are. And so that way they're, they've got each other's backs, they're supporting each other and they know that they can ask questions of each other to make sure that their majors and minors are supported.

That's just a way that I've organized my team and uh it's been successful for us. Let's talk about avoiding silos now. So this is really helping your team be more successful in relation to the rest of the teams in your organization. And we definitely need to make sure that we avoid those silos, right? So, encouraging collaboration and cross team communication is important. What I like to do is making sure that each person on your team has a buddy with another team, product marketing. And I I show this on the next slide is like an octopus, right? We have our feelers out into a variety of different teams. We have um our best friends in sales and in product management. And so what I always like to do is assign a buddy system. So you've got a buddy in sales or you've got a buddy in product management and that can help build those bridges to those other teams. Not to say that you have to only talk to that buddy, but having that buddy gives you AAA safe space again, important to have that safe space to test things out, to feel them out, to sort of see how things are, are landing and being received. Um Important to ask is also for that feedback. You need to know how your team is being received from the other parts of the organization.

So it's always good to get a temperature check both from your buddies so that, that your team members can get that temperature check from the buddies. But also you as a manager should be asking for that temperature check from other teams as well. So you can go manager to manager and say, hey, how's my team doing? Is that, you know, what did we, what did you think of this training that we ran or what did you think of this marketing launch that we ran? Did that work for you? What areas can we uh do better on? And I always like to ask for that feedback, but also hold up more public postmortem for some of the bigger things. So for us, because we're a product market marketing team, we do a lot of product launches. We do like to do post mortems on those product launches cross functionally so that we're getting that information from across the different uh parts of the organization. And that again also avoids the silos, you're not trying to place blame on anyone in a post in a post mortem.

You want to support people, but you do want to find out what worked and what didn't work and that can help uh avoid those silos. So I did mention that product marketing is like an octopus. This is my little simile for the product marketing team that I have. I like to say that it's like an octopus because we connect to at least eight different parts of the organization on a literally on a daily basis. Product marketing is connecting to um sales, to sales engineering, the presales team to the customer success team, to the support team, to pro uh professional services. Product management always is one of our best friends, the rest of the marketing team. And of course, we can't forget about the external influences as well, those customers. So not only should you be been building bridges and avoiding silos internally, but it's important to avoid those silos externally as well. Ask for feedback from your customers. Ask for feedback on your team from the community if you have that uh availability. So that's something that I would definitely like to encourage you all to do. I want to transition now to sort of, one of the things that I think is super important, which is building relationships across teams. And that's really how you're gonna help set your team up for success is to impro improve their relationships across the different teams.

So I've got sort of seven secrets of success if you will. Um So I'll go through those, uh seven things first is understanding the strengths and weaknesses across the organization. Figure out who in your organization has the skills that can help you and your and the rest of your team and figure out what your team is able to give in return. So you should know what you guys bring to you to the table as a team and each individual person brings to the table and also where you need support from other teams as well. So understand the team based strengths and weaknesses and know that, you know, when you ask for help, that's gonna be important uh to build those relationships. The second secret is, listen, first, I think we all sort of know this in our hearts, but it's really sometimes often hard in practice listening is one of the greatest relationship skills that you can have. Um And I'm as guilty as the next person on jumping in trying to, you know, get my point out in there. But I have tried to keep myself in check to listen first and then react and then try to uh to talk.

I know it's hard to do, but it is an important way to build those relationships across the organization. Next one is being proactive, make sure that your team is proactive. And as I mentioned, asking for that feedback, most teams are very focused on their own work and deliverables.

Most likely you'll want to offer your services to them rather than waiting for people to come to you, to ask to be part to, to participate in something with them. I think this is also another one that is, you know, sort of logical but hard in practice and it's something that really does go a long way to building those relationships. If you offer help, people will be more likely to ask for your help in the future. And then that goes into building that virtuous cycle of a, of a good relationship. Next is making yourself available. This is obvious, but it's easy to get stuck in each of your own little world. I'm a big fan of one on ones with managers, um, team to team, um and even better closely the people that you work with closely during the day, it doesn't have to be long, but even offering to have a, just a short chat on a Zoom or even a, you know, worst case, a slack 1 to 1 can go a long way.

Once you've made yourself available, you also have to follow through. So when you're proactive, you're asking for these things, um, you also have to make sure that you're delivering so nothing's worse than somebody who potentially fails to deliver on something they promised. Right.

It's better to over communicate, um, on progress that no replying at all. It drives me crazy when somebody just let something sit rather than just saying, I hear you, I got it. I'm gonna come back to this later. May same thing for you waiting to some for somebody to deliver something to you, make sure that they know your deadline so that they can follow through with you. Next is obviously no one to ask for help. This is one of the biggest, I think things that people uh leading a team need to need to learn is when is it important to uh to ask for help and when is your team uh needing help? So it's you, you want to try to be aware of when you need help and don't be afraid to encourage your team to ask for assistance both from you or from other people within the organization. And as a manager, you can keep an eye out for somebody struggling and offer to sort of knock down the doors that are any uh issues and, and and avoid those that any knock down those doors that are in their way. And then lastly my seventh one and here's a picture of my cat when they were a little tiny, little kitten is start small. I know it's a cliche, but that crawl walk run is the best way to build the relationships.

It's truly, uh, you know, that, that mantra to absorb it works, you know, with, um, uh, uh, deliverables, but it also works with the relationships. Try something small, just a, a slack message here and there um or a small task or a small request and then add on from there, especially if you're working with a new person um within the organization, it's always best to start small and then grow from there. So I think that that has taken me through my, you know, seven tips of building relationships. Um And I wanted to, to sort of leave you before we open it up for some questions with some key takeaways. Again, important is to structure your team so that everybody feels like an owner with their majors and their minors as I like to call it partnering across the organization, build that octopus, build the feelers out to all the different parts of your organization so that you can break down those silos and making sure that you can um you know, understand for your team members where those silos might exist and how you can help them teaching your team to build relationships with my seven easy tips and then make sure that you can guide your team and support them as much as possible.

So, with that, I think we have uh maybe three minutes for questions. Feel free to connect with me on linkedin. If anybody has any questions, pop them into the chat or come off of mute, I'm happy to answer anything at all. Um, but those are my sort of life lessons on championing your team and making sure that you are, you know, the manager that supports them the best. Does anybody have any questions? All right. Well, in that, oh, we do have Monica has a question has raised their hand. Thank you, Monica. Any, any chance to come off of mute or pop it into the chat or maybe it was a mistake or maybe they're struggling, the person is struggling to come off of mute or maybe I don't know if we are allowed to come off of mute. Um OK, so not sure if that's gonna work out. But if, if anybody does have a question, feel free to pop into the chat or connect with me later as well. Oh, I do see one chat, a regular chat was disabled. That's unfortunate. OK. If you have a, a question, pop it into the Q and A then um that's, that's a problem. So any questions have, have a free time to uh to use the Q and A, I think we have another minute or two left. So happy to answer anything for anybody. I've got a lot of experience leading small teams, large teams, um, you know, working with people that are shy. That's another problem that I've found is sometimes people don't build as many bridges when they're, they're shy.

So you need to kind of support them and encourage them and maybe even set up some of those bridges on their, you know, for them to, to get them going on that, um, question. OK. I just wondered how you might manage the more negative voices on the team. That's a great question. And I think what's important there is to understand why they're negative, right? Is that something that, are they struggling to, to get their work done because they're being blocked and maybe that makes them negative? Are they, do they have a, um a potential, uh you know, sort of detractor that they have to work with that's bringing them down. It's important to understand the why. And also then, uh uh you know, sort of open up those opportunities for them to maybe be less negative, maybe give them a rose. Like I said, it's important to celebrate the successes. Maybe they're negative because they don't see themselves getting celebrated. Um So those are some ideas as to, to how to get around those uh those negative voices. Thank you, Monica for that question. Any other questions? I think we've got one last minute here, but I'm happy to, to give you guys anything that, that uh that you need. All right. Well, thank you everyone. Hopefully, that was a little bit of insight on a busy day worth of uh of conference. And I hope you enjoy the rest of your day and the experience here at the Woman Tech conference.

Thanks everyone and have a great rest of your day.