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Save Your People: Stop the Churn (Part 3 of 3)

From Burned Out to Psyched Up

The best plan in the world won’t help if your team is too stressed to execute it. 

Imagine it’s the end of the month. You want to have a department meeting, so you send out an email, asking each team member what they accomplished. What do the replies look like?

“Wrote and released weekly newsletters on time.”

“Attended kickoff meeting for vendor initiative.”

“Posted 3x/wk to Instagram, just like last month.”

This is the result of The Churn Cycle. People doing stuff, without knowing whether it contributed to the business mission. (Or what the business mission even is.)

In the first two parts of this series, we uncovered two big keys to escaping The Churn Cycle.

  1. Getting a proactive, self-directed plan down on paper.
  2. Establishing marketing as the go-to authority on the consumer.

But unfortunately, The Churn Cycle is pervasive and pernicious and if you don’t keep your team energized, they’ll get sucked right back down into it.

There’s a reason for the old cliche, “The boss is always smiling.” It’s easy for people with power to smile. They know the vision. And they have the authority to make it come to life. Well, when you begin the process of marketing, the whole team feels like bosses. There’s a blank slate. The sky’s the limit. But before long people get stale. Instead of dreaming about “why,” they’re asking “what” and “how many more times.”

How can you get them smiling again?

Welcome to Burnout City. Population? You. 

Combined, the estound team has decades of experience with thousands of marketers. And there are four common reasons we see them get burned out.

  • Feedback loops. It feels good to be told you’re great. But a little success creates a big incentive to “stick with what works.” So junior and mid-level marketers stagnate. They don’t get opportunities to learn, grow, and upskill.
  • Laundry lists. When you get your first job, it’s pretty cool to be told something like, “Every month we produce three posts and two videos.” “Cool,” you think, “marketing means producing three posts and two videos. Got it!” It only takes a couple years to realize your value doesn’t stem from the stuff you make. But by that point, it may be too late to get the education and mentorship you need.
  • Maker mode. The Churn Cycle is all about checking boxes. Jamming out executions. Valuing work based on short-term performance metrics like clicks or completions. Getting the stuff made takes all your time, and any free minutes you have are devoted to cleaning out your email.
  • And speaking of email… The nonstop psychic drain of texts, chats, emails and meetings leaves everyone frazzled and has been linked to anxiety. It’s easy to convince yourself the only goal that matters is hitting Inbox Zero!

So how do you avoid these pitfalls?

Keeping your team energized means creating a path to professional and personal growth. Articulating meaningful goals. And giving everyone a say how to define and measure them.

Using OKRs to get people feeling A-OK.

Marketing isn’t a sprint. It’s a game of hurdles. Too often we task people with a goal like “increase market share,” which is too big and too vague for anyone to achieve. And, from the other side, we overwhelm them with stuff that simply must be created ASAP.

Objectives and Key Results – OKRs – are the way out of this trap. You decide as a team what your objectives are and what the milestones will be along the way. 

At estound, we take our clients through a 10 step process that goes like this.

  1. Choose an objective and brainstorm all the possible methods for achieving it.
  2. Remove any method that’s purely tactical.
  3. Rate every method on a scale of 1 – 5, with 1 meaning it’s outside your team’s control and 5 meaning it’s 100% within your team’s control. Remove all the 1s and 2s.
  4. For each of the remaining methods, ask “Will this help meet the objective,” “Is it important,” and “Are we confident in our ability to execute this.” Remove any items with more than one “no.”
  5. Order the remaining methods by priority, and remove any outside the top five.
  6. Review the five methods still on the list and add notes on how they will be measured.
  7. Repeat the process for other team objectives.
  8. Choose an owner for each key result.
  9. Discuss any roadblocks or gaps that need to be addressed, like missing software or lack of bandwidth.
  10. Pick two Key Results for each Objective that the team will prioritize first.

It might take a couple meetings to get all these steps finished. But once you do, you’ll have a team that understands exactly what to do. And, more importantly, why.

Assessing team performance… as a team. 

OK, you’ve established OKRs. And you’ve finished the audience exercises in post #2 of this series. Congratulations! You should have your Marketing Dossier nearly finished. That’s good. Because to do this final exercise, you’ll need that – and some concrete campaign results, too.

(If you don’t have them, you might need to put this on hold for a couple months, until the metrics start to trickle in.)

Start by printing out the completed estound Marketing Dossier and giving everyone on your team green, yellow, red and blue highlighters. Have all your team members go through the dossier, using their highlighters to indicate how they feel about each item.

  • Red means there’s conflict or you’re falling behind.
  • Yellow means you need to spend more time gathering information.
  • Green means the item is on track or successful.
  • Blue indicates areas where the team has made a bad assumption or misinterpreted research.

It might help to allow people to do this individually and tabulate the results anonymously. But the magic happens when the team comes together to discuss how to get red and yellow items on track.

In general, if you see more red marks in the Mission and Model phases, it means your execution is solid, but your strategy is off. And if you see more red marks towards the end of the Marketing Dossier, it means you have good buy-in on what to do, but aren’t executing it well.

But the benefit of going through this process isn’t just executional focus. It’s team chemistry. Teams that understand their “why” grow personally and succeed professionally.

It’s hard to say goodbye to The Churn Cycle.

No, really. It is.

Oddly enough, some people are kind of addicted to churn. It gives them an excuse for feeling stressed. A way to look busy. And a method for measuring themselves by volume instead of by performance.

You will meet resistance along the way.

But escaping is more than just a breath of fresh air. It’s the key to upskilling your best employees. Giving them the careers they want. And earning the respect you deserve.

At estound, we aren’t trying to replace your team. In fact, we’re trying to make your team irreplaceable. And getting out of The Churn Cycle is one of the best places to start. 

So from now on, those monthly meetings can be about marketing success, instead of making stuff. 

ready to GET STARTED?

Drop us a note and we'll coordinate a time to discuss where your marketing has hit a wall and how UMS might help you break through.

The UMS method has transformed our business. The discipline it gave us helped us survive through tough times and then thrive with years of double-digit growth. This process works and we are evidence of it.

David DeCamillis
VP Sales & Marketing, Platte River Networks