In fact, marketing is the field with the highest rate of turnover, according to a LinkedIn study that revealed almost one in five marketers switched companies in the previous year. Even more alarming, research and media/communications roles—often found in marketing organizations—ranked second and third in turnover, respectively. If you are trying to build a team of marketing masters, it’s imperative that you cultivate loyalty among rising stars. But many CMOs are pulled in a number of directions at once, and the blur of the daily grind can easily cloud a CMO’s view of what’s really happening.
5 ways CMOs can retain their highest-potential leaders
Promising team members leave because of communication breakdowns, lack of autonomy, lack of advancement, rigid expectations and skill stagnation. Here are five ways to avoid these pitfalls and retain your best leaders.
Connect and listen
When issues arise, middle managers often feel a responsibility to handle them without bothering the boss. Although well-intentioned, it means CMOs can become disconnected from what’s happening on the ground. While senior leaders shouldn’t micromanage, it’s important to stay in touch with what the team is experiencing—including at the bottom of the org chart.
CMOs should establish a cadence of interaction that allows them to connect and listen. This can be as simple as monthly or bi-monthly 1-to-1 or mini-team lunches directly with team members. Tri-talks—quarterly feedback meetings with an employee, manager and the manager’s manager—are also effective in opening lines of communication.
Empower team members
The most promising employees can’t stand being micromanaged. When a manager nitpicks, second-guesses or is too prescriptive, it’s a sure-fire way to drive smart people away. They won’t feel valued or trusted.
CMOs should empower their team to determine its own processes and create great work without inhibition. This requires proper coaching and expectation-setting with middle managers and directors. Once smart employees are established in an organization, they often need only an objective and resources to lead the team to a good outcome.
Leverage team members' strengths
A rigid organizational structure is an easy way to alienate high-potential employees. Each rising star has particular skills and abilities that are a unique asset to your team. If they lack an obvious home on your org chart, it’s time for you to change it.
A smart CMO will look at each marketer’s unique strengths and adjust the org chart to leverage those abilities. Do you have marketers with unique strengths in creativity and innovation? Create a role where they can support the rest of the brand team or work on an up-and-coming part of the business. Either way, you greatly increase the odds that they will stay and do work that excites them.
Historically, flexibility has been in short supply in the workplace. Employers assumed that employees were lazy by nature, apt to take advantage of any leeway the company might give in accommodating unique schedules or circumstances. But the traditional mindset—that employees must be closely directed—is quickly fading.
After experiencing the benefits of working from home, many employees expect to maintain a certain level of post-pandemic flexibility. These new expectations place increased pressure on senior leaders to allow for work-life balance. Flex days, flex hours and work-from-anywhere policies are becoming routine. Why not use them as your own recruiting competitive advantage?
Invest in team members' growth
It’s no surprise that great team members leave when they feel like there isn’t room to grow. This goes beyond role or title. Star team members are driven people—driven to achieve through practice and learning—and without ongoing personal and skills development, they can feel like their careers are stagnating.
CMOs should invest in their high-potential team members. This can take the form of challenging special projects, conference attendance, training seminars, community memberships and tuition reimbursement. While these investments are commonly cut from discretionary budgets, the most loyal organizations prioritize them. Great CMOs know that they will more than pay for themselves in the long run.
Most CMOs agree that people are their most important asset, but even the best CMO can lose focus over time. High-potential leaders might seem like they are on autopilot, but they actually want ongoing attention and investment in their careers. It’s critical to get it right.