Effectively navigating your organization's structure will bring value to your career, your colleagues and the company as a whole.
Mentoring relationships are the perfect place for rising marketers to have candid conversations with top CMOs and their peers, asking for advice and new perspectives on the tough-to-navigate situations they may encounter throughout their careers. Chances are, if you are having a difficult time managing a situation, others are, too.
In the spirit of elevating their fellow marketers, CMO Club Mentor, Virginie Glaenzer, Director, Marketing & Customer Experience, Maru/edr, and two Future CMO Club Mentees - Michele Fournier, Marketing Communications Manager, Assurance, and Melissa Marshall, Regional Marketing Manager, Clark Hill PLC - shared some takeaways on how to navigate workplace politics in order to build quality relationships with other executives.
Managing your career will often require you to build strong relationships both in and outside of your organization in order to push new ideas, facilitate growth and create lasting impact. However, for our Future CMO Club mentees, it was the former that they wanted help with the most.
To begin, our CMO mentor pointed out that it’s important to understand which career aspirations are driving your goals and why. Are you looking to increase your competency as a leader? Do you want to build a strong relationship with other execs in your organization in order to understand how they think and approach problems/opportunities? Do you want to create a network of internal advocates on your team that help drive marketing success? Do you simply want to network with other top performers, as you move toward the C-Suite yourself?
If you are like many of our members, it’s probably a little bit of all of the above.
Office politics often circumvent the formal organizational structure, so don’t dive in right away. Instead, sit back and spend some time observing so that you can identify the following:
Once you have taken stock of who is in the organization, you can get an understanding of where the power and influence lay. However, the key to building good relationships is much more nuanced than that – you must fully understand the social networks to build trust and a true understanding of those around you. To dive in more, look for how people engage and interact with each other.
This is the perfect time to leverage or develop your interpersonal, soft skills. Listen carefully to those around you, help improve difficult relationships, provide solutions where you can and seek out ways to make yourself, your team and your superiors look good. Focus on providing value to your team and organization, and the visibility of your achievements and value will increase as well.
Additionally, by gaining the knowledge above and truly providing value to your colleagues, you’ll be able to easily attract and find opportunities where your own skills as a leader and marketer can shine.
By this time, you should have a good understanding of what ‘works’ within the context of your company’s culture and what stops ideas and productivity from moving forward. When building relationships with other top executives, watch those that you look up to and identify the successful behaviors that make you really respect them.
Channel these admirable qualities and make sure your own behavior follows a couple of standard rules that our mentor and mentees identified:
Through observation, you'll learn what works in your organization's culture and what doesn't. Watch other team members at work and identify successful behaviors that you can model. Then, reach out to the people you’d like to network and connect with, offering support, valuable input and driving results wherever you can.
For many CMOs, their first step toward the C-Suite began by proactively reaching out and/or volunteering for a project that would highlight their skills and bring more value to the company objectives as a whole.
"Ideas can come from unexpected places or random, totally unrelated discussions. Being open to change makes one a stronger marketer because change is all around us."
In our latest Marketer to Watch interview, we get Steve Wimmer's opinion on how marketing is changing and what he thinks will set apart marketers of the future.