Don’t Move TOO Fast when you start
Updated: Jul 9, 2019
There’s a natural tendency for a newly seated CMO to make their mark. After all, with marketing in the bulls-eye of the business these days, few marketing leaders have the luxury of time on their sides. It’s often why you see the brand refresh, new website, or big product launch come up first in the tenure of a marketing leader--they want to make a mark quickly.
I’ll share an against-the-grain argument to that approach. I’ll also preface with the fact that you can’t wait too long to get some wins on the board--that goes for any job or project, so I’m not advocating a waterfall approach to putting together a huge plan and coming up from stealth mode 9-12 months after your new hire training. Iteration is key, as is collaboration.
However, often times, by going for the quick win or the tough firing and getting the initial praise from the rest of the executive team, marketing leaders miss out on making an even bigger difference in the long run. Instead I’d advocate new CMO’s to take the full 90 days they’re going to be allocated to come up to speed and spend that time listening and learning.
First impressions of people, projects, and the “why” of why something’s been done that way forever don’t always hold up over time. I made the mistake earlier in my career of dismissing a low performer in my first few weeks--he was due to be let go before I even started, but I thought I could coach him up--he made another error, so I had the “hard talk” with him and showed him the door in week 2. I never fully regained the trust of my team. They didn’t know me from Adam (never understood that saying), and to them I was just the new leader who came in and fired people without getting to know them. By taking stock, listening, learning, and agreeing with the other leaders that this person would be leaving, but on my terms and timing, not theirs, I would have been able to get a better sense of why he had to go, and brought my team along for the ride. I would have known a lot more and been able to explain i a lot better.
Same goes with any project you rush to get that win--you learn so much in those first few months, unless there’s a huge need to get something out the door (for which you’ll likely not get much of the credit for anyway, your team or predecessor will), or get rid of a toxic employee, take a breath, let it sit for awhile, ask more questions--you might end up with the same result, but how you got there will be a lot more productive to your tenure.