You’ve nailed it! You’ve finally bagged that marketing manager job! They picked you. You! Yes you are taking over from the old marketing manager.
You pop open the bubbly, recline, and think about how great it’ll be to sit down in that big seat of power and wield your influence over a team of unsuspecting marketing whizz kids.
Before you finish that champagne and plan your big entrance (you’ve even got the music ready, haven’t you?), it’s vital that you take a few things into account.
Why taking over from an old marketing manager might be tricky
Ok, I’m being rather optimistic above. It will be tricky, no matter which company it is, the size of the team or how amazing they are, according to the MD.
Most human beings don’t like change. We might say we love new adventures, being outside our comfort zone, and the odd surprise. In reality, change is a challenging concept.
This is particularly the case at work. We get used to the norm. It becomes comfortable, predictable and safe. Throw in a brand new manager, and all of those lovely warm feelings dissipate pretty quickly.
What have you let yourself in for?
If you happen to be that brand new manager, it’s important to realise that your soon-to-be-team will already have passed judgement on you. They’ll have scoured LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook looking for dirt and any signs of weakness.
This doesn’t mean they’re vultures who will be ready to swoop down and knock you off your perch as soon as you sit upon it. They’re just nervous about things changing. They want to know what they’re in for.
Let’s consider why taking over from the previous manager will be tricky:
- the team might have really liked the old one;
- the company might be struggling with market penetration, and the job could be far more challenging than you’ve been led to believe;
- the previous manager may have left all manner of loose ends you’ll need to pick up;
- embedded ways of working that are out of step with your methods may be present; or
- the previous manager may have created bad relations between other departments within the business.
This blog isn’t intended to put you off taking the hot seat. Far from it! I’d simply like to offer some experienced advice on what you’ll need to do to make the best first impression. Avoid being subjected to dressing room unrest (the football fans among you will understand that reference).
Don’t waltz in
Depending on your character, it might be tempting to stroll into the office on your first day and hold a big presentation where you explain how wonderful you are and how prolific your meteoric rise to the top of the marketing tree has been. You could even finish with a slide that details how lucky they all are to have you. One word:
By waltzing in and ‘making your mark’, you’ll almost certainly rock the boat to the point of most occupants wanting to jump ship.
There’s a far better tactic you can use during those first few days.
Remember – you might be the manager, but the new team you’re managing know far more than you do about the business. They know it’s intricacies, challenges, ways of working and interdepartmental relations.
If there’s problems within any of those elements, they can be changed – but not yet. At least, not until you understand them, first.
Start your first week by holding individual meetings with the team members. Get to know them. Ask how they feel about working there. What excites them? What frustrates them? What could be done better?
By doing this individually, you’ll build a comprehensive picture about the makeup of the team and any challenges or opportunities that already exist. And, because they’ll be on their own, they won’t feel any peer pressure to act a certain way or say certain things. In other words, you should get an accurate picture of exactly what’s going on!
Start with small changes, if they need making
One of the worst things you can do as a new marketing manager is make broad, far-reaching changes the moment you walk through the door.
Regardless of whether or not you think such changes are needed, now is not the time. Start small. Make minor adjustments based on the frustrations you heard during the one-to-one team member chats.
Try and make the changes that will have the smallest impact on day-to-day operations. Ones you know will put smiles on the faces of the team at the same time. Your effort won’t go unnoticed.
Don’t try and replicate your old job in the new role
If you’ve come from a previous marketing management position, you might fall into the common trap of trying to replicate processes, policies and procedures from that old job in your new role.
Sometimes, this can be a good idea; there might be some inspiration you can take from your old job, after all. But trying to shoehorn in stuff from the old place just because it worked there is generally a pretty poor idea.
This is a new challenge! Treat it like that and start with a completely fresh mindset. It’ll do you and the team the world of good.
Demonstrate that you have a lot to learn
If there’s one thing you can do to endear yourself to the team, it’s to appear humble. One of the best ways to do that is to demonstrate that you want to learn.
It doesn’t matter how much experience you have – you’ll never know it all. By illustrating that you know you have a lot to learn, you’ll show the team how important the role is to you.
Being humble is a great managerial quality, so why not demonstrate it from the off? Be an approachable marketing manager.
Let them get on with it
My final tip is the one which might be the hardest to enact, because it will go against every rational thought you have.
Rather than micromanaging, or attempting to assert your authority early on, just let the team get on with their work. Be present, leave your door open and communicate with them regularly, but don’t attempt to change the way they work or significantly modify the current plans and campaigns.
By doing this, you’ll immediately release any tension about your arrival and lessen the concern that you’re going to change everything. They might be a little surprised at first and think it’s too good to be true. As you let them get on with their work and ease your way in gently, the transition will be smooth, unobtrusive and – hopefully – ultimately successful.
Go get ‘em (just be gentle)!