A few years ago, I got to really get my feet wet with marketing automation for the first time and let me tell you… I was EXCITED. As a marketer, just the sheer thought of conceptualizing neurological-based email marketing workflows, crafting intelligent lead scoring models and studying the buyer journey is enough to jolt you out of bed in the morning. Yup. We marketers are in fact that dorky.
I had one small problem. My marketing automation platform was an utter disaster.
Trying to figure out how to use the system to perform simple, supposedly out-of-the-box tasks like sending an email, checking email marketing metrics and building a basic lead scoring model was analogous to trying to find Zambia on the map. A quick stroll around the marketing department would reveal dejected A-team players who were so busy desperately and courageously trying to “figure out” the system, they couldn’t come up for air.
We had a problem.
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We had the wrong technology in place. The technology was forcing my team to don their superhero capes daily, warding off the platform evil in hopes of finding the unicorn. The technology could not support their rock star potential; they were better than the technology yet unable to display their mastery because of its limitations.
To overhaul the platform would mean a breach of contract, with potentially steep financial repercussions. To overhaul the technology would mean to have to escalate this issue “up the chain” and ask the hard question of, “Did we pick the wrong technology the first time around?” To overhaul the technology would mean to take responsibility for the solution and to raise the white flag, no matter how hard that might be.
But I did it.
To spare you all the details, it was a wonderfully worthwhile and educational learning opportunity. Working in collaboration with my boss, we were able to successfully build the business case for the impact of continuing to do business as is (loss of productivity, wasted resources, inefficient processes, etc.), create a financial justification model and build the bridge with our peer leaders to arrive at the solution together. To our team, we were the heroes, able to bring home a new technology platform, the type of technology they deserved. To our organization, we forced them to make a hard decision but one that ultimately needed to be made. For me, personally, it was one of those moments of which I am most proud. I made that workplace nightmare my job, my responsibility. And I fixed it.
In business, we see evidences every day that the technologies, processes and systems on which our employees depend to do their daily jobs are the very same technologies, processes and systems that are breaking them. As our CEO/Founder Tim Hebert shared in his latest blog post, Technology and Process Problems: It Is Our Job, 75% of American workers don’t believe they have access to the latest efficiency-boosting technology. What’s more, companies lose 20 to 30 percent in revenue every year due to inefficiencies. In other words, the wrong technologies and processes are killing our teams. Let’s change that.
To raise up a critical workplace woe, there are a few places to start:
- Talk to your team: You need to understand how they truly feel about the “pain” at hand and validate the impact of that pain. For instance, how many wasted hours are they logging in a day just trying to work around a legacy system? How many times in a week are they entering the same data twice because you have two critical business systems that are disconnected? When you give a face and name to their pain, it becomes more real.
- Prioritize the pain: If you consider all the processes, technologies and systems on which your department relies, how business critical is it for you to address this pain? In the example above, our marketing automation tool was the single most important tool we needed within our department. Had the pain been centered around a social media monitoring tool, I wouldn’t have raised the issue up. As business leaders, we need to understand the priority, weight and impact of the obstacle.
- Raise it up: With the pain understand and validated, you need to take action to address the problem. Sometimes that means automating a manual process. Other times it means investing in a more advanced, user-friendly technology. To begin, schedule a meeting with the top person(s) that you need to loop into this conversation to start working towards the solve. You’ll need to understand any potential barriers to fixing the problem (e.g. interdepartmental silos, budget, time, resources, etc.) and start building an action plan. Remember, even if you vow to do just one thing after that meeting, you are still taking a step forward.
Raising up technology and process problems can be hard… I get it. Doing so can often shift blame and wonder towards someone’s court, maybe even your own. But it’s critical if you want to have high-performing, high-functioning teams. So do one thing differently tomorrow. Have even one meeting with your team to identify what’s broken.
Raise it up.
Unsure of where to start or how to begin to raise it up? Trilix offers a Continuous Learning Workshop centered upon documenting, prioritizing and raising up your top pain. Click here to have us come into your office and lead this session.