• One of the most effective ways to assess your marketers is to step back and think about the ideal state
  • Regardless of how competencies are assembled, they need to be present to have a capable marketing operations function
  • A competency-based approach to planning, hiring and training reinforces awareness of the strengths of each member of the team

The ability to work well in a team environment is a critical life skill – one that is axiomatic these days in every professional environment. Job postings almost always have a line about working well with others, and “soft skill” training remains an area of emphasis in everything from high school curricula to MBA programs. Yet as much as we may talk about the team, and believe in it, we don’t always hire to it, we don’t always train to it, and we rarely assess the team on its capacity. We hire, train and assess people: individuals. But in doing so, we miss a critical chance to optimize and energize who we are together.

TeamworkHow Do You Plan for the Team?
One of the most effective ways to assess your marketers, your future hiring needs, and your current and future training needs is to step back and think about your marketing functions in their ideal states. Every marketing organization has at least a handful of functions; larger organizations may have many more. But at the very least, you likely have a demand creation function, a product marketing function, a communications function, and a marketing operations function. These functions are focused practice areas within the marketing department. And each of these focused practice areas requires a set of competencies – expertise and ability in that team to accomplish the purpose of the function.

Functional Competencies
Take, for instance, the function of marketing operations. At SiriusDecisions, we’ve mapped out 24 key competencies within marketing operations – from data management to business analytics, tactic measurement and strategy measurement. Depending on the size of the company and its marketing operations needs, there might be one marketing operations person or 100. Regardless of how these competencies are assembled across a small or large team, they need to be present to have a successful, capable marketing operations function.

Role or Discipline Competencies
What is liberating about mapping the core competencies of a function is that you empower yourself to hire and train people to the standards needed to succeed as an organization, rather than hiring and training to a common baseline set of skills for every individual. Not everyone needs the same level of skill in data stewardship, for instance, to make a strong marketing operations team. The map of functional-level competencies makes it easy to sketch roles – or for larger companies, discipline areas with several people in similar roles – and hire or train to the competencies of those roles. Instead of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to put 1,000 people through the same training course, the training can instead flex to what each function, discipline and role actually needs. 

Individual Competencies
Best of all, capturing people’s skills and abilities in terms of competencies makes it easy to quickly up-skill in a particular individual competency without wasting time, money or effort. It also provides terminology that hiring managers can translate more easily, e.g. “Tell me where you have performed this type of activity or process.” For instance, instead of looking for someone who knows the ins and outs of your current database, you can look for someone who has been solely responsible for database management, data integrity and data readiness. We all know that this kind of language makes for effective hiring and training, but it is often hard – not to mention time-consuming – to make the language transition. With a functional marketing competency mapped to your organizational needs, you don’t have to translate. The work is already done. 

A competency-based approach to planning, hiring and training not only results in more accurate hiring and training, as well as easier performance measurement, it also naturally reinforces awareness of the strengths of each member of the team, as well as opportunities for improvement. At the end of the day, the best training and performance enhancements come through peer-to-peer teaching and communication. If you build your marketing organization to be a compilation of strengths and competencies, you are setting up your marketers to be greater together than they could ever be alone or in competition with each other.