Content marketing managers are in an interesting position. So much of their job entails organization and planning, keeping up with trends, and knowing the latest SEO and marketing techniques. While on the surface their roles can seem systematic at times, true leaders know their power isn’t just in understanding how to best leverage social media or knowing which headlines are click-worthy; choosing the right leadership techniques can mean contributing to the success of the entire company in a way that bolsters everyone involved.
1. Carefully Curate Your Workplace Culture
External success starts from the inside, and your workplace culture has a major impact on performance. You can’t let your content get lost in the sea of content out there; similarly, you don’t want your workplace to become another cookie-cutter office. When your workplace has an atmosphere of creativity and personality, it carries over into the work your teams put out.
Designing a safe, supportive and inspiring workplace culture sounds good, but actually doing it is the tricky part. There are a lot of vague tips out there, and while advice like “create a safe environment” and “show gratitude” are important, they’re not actionable. On the other hand, ideas like setting up a cereal bar so employees can have breakfast at the office is fun, but it’s more trendy than impactful.
There isn’t one answer here, especially since cultures will vary from workplace to workplace. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
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- Pay attention to the actions and behaviors that are already occurring, then build on that. For example, let’s say your employees are shy to talk to newbies or mingle with people from other departments. If there’s a shared resource that’s tucked away in a corner, like the coffee machine everyone uses, move it to a comfortable area where people are able to gather for a few extra minutes, like a meeting room that’s often unused.
- Encourage face-to-face interactions to prioritize authentic communication and human relationships. Sitting behind a computer all day can make it easy to forget how to really talk to people. Having your employees speak to one another in person when possible, instead of sending an email, injects the office and your brand content with humanness.
- Hold an annual awards party to celebrate the best work from the past year. Every year, update the categories to reflect the current state of your brand and to highlight where you’re heading. The key here is to celebrate the behaviors and projects that are most beneficial for the business overall.
No idea what your values are yet? Defining those is your first step. There are a lot of articles out there to help you figure it all out, like this one from Greenhouse. Check out Google’s list of 10 values, too.
2. Get to Know Your Employees
It’s going to be difficult to encourage collaboration, communication and productivity if you don’t understand the individuals who you work with — particularly their preferences, skills and personalities. Connect with your employees and develop an interest in who they are both inside and outside work. In addition to gleaning insights about where your team truly shines, you’ll be seen as an approachable content manager, which opens the door to receiving helpful feedback from the team and even other department heads. If you struggle with soft skills (such as communication, empathy, and leadership), attend a conference or training seminar, or seek out the help of a consultant.
When hiring millennials, be mindful of what they expect from a workplace. According to WGU, millennials want to know that their work has a greater purpose and a high amount of impact. They’re looking for the following qualities in an employer:
- Diversity and inclusion across all genders, races and other demographics.
- Flexibility in order to strike a work-life balance, which may include remote work opportunities.
- Innovation, especially when it comes to digital tech.
- Social responsibility by helping the community.
- A commitment to sustainability via green initiatives.
3. Hold Brainstorming Sessions
For many of your team members, especially those who have to be creative on a regular basis, a steady paycheck and benefits aren’t enough to keep them motivated and inspired. In order to be confident in their work, they should be part of the process. To empower employees, consider holding regular brainstorming sessions. Here are a few tips:
- Choose a focus for the session. Write down the goal, share it with everyone who will be involved and stay on topic throughout.
- Avoid giving too much criticism early on. The point of brainstorming is to throw around all sorts of ideas, even bad ones.
- In a post-brainstorming session, follow up on the best ideas and let your team know which steps have been taken.
Input from the creative minds at your company can elevate the content you put out there, which can increase its visibility and shareability. This article has a step-by-step process for planning and running a brainstorming session.
4. Put Together a Style Guide
A style guide ensures that all of your brand’s content is consistent across all platforms, which improves the writing process and also makes your brand more identifiable to your audience. It’s an excellent reference for your content creators so that they can turn in work that’s nearly publication ready, too. A style guide will include guidance about communication style, grammar expectations, tone/voice and a vocabulary list. When everyone follows the style guide, editing can focus on more important revisions, like improved layout and flow, fleshing out details, and improving the quality of writing instead of just evaluating the basic mechanics.
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5. Consider a Transversal Approach to Project Management
The larger and more complex a project, the more a transversal approach may help. According to Copper Project, “A transversal project management is applicable when the project cuts across different functions and management practices.” This isn’t a replacement for the traditional top-down approach but is instead a complementary technique.
The overarching idea is to create a plan of action with other specialists who may have different, helpful insights. The article also states, “It is associated with the notion of power and territory but also gives greater flexibility to the functional department heads.” Compartmentalization is encouraged in an effort to handle the project’s complexities so that goals can be met.
The first step is to form a solid understanding of what your goals are. Then, you’ll determine which department heads you’ll need to collaborate with and you’ll connect with them to get them involved. While other department heads will be part of the process, you’ll still act as the project leader. Creating a rapport and an atmosphere of respect will help with the dynamic. The last step of this process is change management, and choosing the right communication channel is essential. For example, you may opt to use collaborative project management software for a streamlined approach.
6. Pave the Way to Promotion
Talented team members don’t want to bump up against a wall. In order to keep them motivated and part of the staff, they need to know there aren’t any dead ends. Let your team members know that you value them and their skills, and that you want them to grow along with your company. When it is time to fill a role, promote from within whenever possible. This costs the company less and fosters employee loyalty. The more you’re able to help an individual grow in their own career, the more loyal they’ll be to your company.
By trying out new management techniques that create an atmosphere of excellence, you can improve everything, from content strategy and SEO to social media efforts and PR.