“Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.” Tony Schwartz
Recently I had a conversation with a long-time CEO about one of my favourite questions to ask those who run companies: “Why do people fail here?”. It is regularly met with an eyebrow raise, a pause and an acknowledgement that no one has asked them that before (surprising, but works for me).
He quickly concurred that the answer is Lack of Enthusiasm.
In the context of the Marketing Department I would always rather have on my team a group of individuals who are enthusiastic (and the other synonyms listed above) than ones who are technically or academically brilliant.
Now that is a sweeping statement, true, and while the bored clock-watcher might be the most experienced employee who knows everything there is about the product and channel idiosyncrasies of ‘Widget No 8’ or that wiz-kid can code mobile sites or run AdWords while literally asleep at her desk but that’s not going to be good for me, our team or the company.
Marketing is a funny ol’ department where we have to train and study and keep up with the latest. It is not like the Finance or Business Dev teams are having to relearn their entire industry every few years. What they hell is an email? Anyone know how a website works? Why won’t this mobile phone show my shopping cart? Oh, look Facebook is now doing ads? VR goggles – cool.
People underestimate just how much learning there is and always will be in the Marketing department and it shows in those companies that neglect such training. I recall someone commented on the subject “there is a reason the military spend most of their days training, training and training some more – so they continue to be the very best when it really matters”. A team that is eager and determined can train up in any skills they need.
It is all too easy to end up relying on legacy staff who are knowledge-experts from back in the day, to the new kids on the block who understand the latest fad, trend and marketing fashion. These invaluable skills might be vital to a functioning department and successful campaigns, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prize raw enthusiasm as a much higher value asset and skill.
And I’m not just talking about marketing; what – across all of life – isn’t much better when done enthusiastically?
OK, maybe tequila shots.
So, find team members that are keen as mustard and put them on a training course to learn the tough, rare skills; put those descriptor nouns above on all your job descriptions and tell HR how much you prize this in those you interview. Build it into annual reviews and judge yourself by the same standards. If it is cited as the reason people fail most in an organisation, then turn that on it’s head and ask what are we doing about making people more enthusiastic?
We like to talk about being passionate, now let’s prioritise it.