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The Critical Hire--the COO of Marketing

Updated: Jul 9, 2019

There are always 1000 priorities for a new CMO to juggle and balance when they start a new role.  And while having good interview skills hopefully uncovers the big issues and projects, it’s inevitable that the *real* challenges and projects only truly come to light once you’re on the other side of the fence--and that’s normal, we should expect that to happen.

So what do you do when your vision of what you thought you were getting into meets the reality of the situation?  Most of the time the remit for a new leader to enact all these projects comes with a need to upgrade the team--improve its skills, talent, sheer numbers, whatever.  It can be daunting if the problems are many--equally so if there’s just one huge glaring one.

That puts a lot of pressure on finding the right talent.  There will be a tendency to fill open roles as fast as possible and start to get butts in seats to get the engine revving again to show progress.  

Resist that temptation.

Go against the instinct and figure out the single most critical hire you can make that will have the biggest impact on your success (your team’s, as well as your own).  Find the lieutenant, the chief operating officer of your org--the one person who can take crap off your plate, make problems go away, handle crises when you can’t, and help set the agenda for what you want to accomplish.  

Find him or her now!

This is the person who you’ll ultimately be in the boat with--you’ll need to be completely honest, open, and transparent with this hire--they need to know what they’re getting into before they jump--and you have to incentivize them well to get them to come on board.  But if they do, and if you and he/she are truly aligned, then you’ve more than doubled your throughput, output, energy, and focus.  

Find that person who makes you better, frees you up, challenges you, can represent you, could step in for you, and who helps set the tone for your team.  Doesn’t matter where they sit--they could be in demand gen, product marketing--heck, maybe it’s a designer that helps set the tone for the brand work--doesn’t matter.  It also doesn’t matter if hiring them doubles your team from 1 to 2, or from 99 to 100. Find the difference maker first, not last.

Everyone is watching you right now.  You set the tone for your tenure with your first hire.  Make it matter, and the odds of your success will shoot up immediately. 

Yes, their impact will be that huge.

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