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5-Step Process and Best Practices

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5-Step Process and Best Practices

Peter Drucker once described customers as the “most important stakeholders.” While this may be true, your customers are dependent on one thing.

No, it’s not your product (though that’s definitely important). It’s actually your employees. Without your employees, products won’t get made, customers won’t learn about those products, and there will be no one there to sell or deliver those products, or provide customer service to them after they’ve purchased.

While your customers may be your most important stakeholders, in a business or organization, your employees are your biggest asset. Their performance, mindset, attitude, and loyalty can make or break your company’s performance and determine whether or not you will have any customers to sell to.

Because of this, you will want to ensure that your employees are meeting expectations, and improving in necessary areas. Performance management aims to foster the best possible employees so your organization can thrive well into the future.

What is performance management?

Performance management is a process that allows managers to assess their employees’ work and support of business objectives. The goal of performance management is to track and improve the skills employees need to perform their necessary job duties.

Elements of performance management include giving performance appraisals, utilizing key performance indicators (KPIs) and management dashboards, peer review, 360-degree feedback (multiple individuals from managers to subordinates assist), and the use of employee management software.

A similar term, performance appraisal, also focuses on goals and self-improvement, but is focused on the individual and does not take the strategic goals of the organization into account.

Performance management is not only important to the organization, it’s essential for the individual as many growth opportunities including bonuses, promotions, and ultimately dismissals, are tied to this process.

Effective Performance Management

Effective performance management will look different depending on your specific industry and your organizational goals. However, there are two approaches you can take to get started.

Behavioral Approach

This works well when your employees work (and achieve) as part of a team and measuring individual results is difficult to do. In this approach, you evaluate your employees based on their behaviors and effort. Feedback looks like identifying current behaviors, communicating desired future behaviors, and providing training or coaching to bridge the gap between where they are and where you would like them to be.

Results-oriented Approach

This approach is ideal when performance metrics are easy to quantify such as meeting a sales quota, clocking billable hours, or reaching certain call statistics. In this approach, you focus on the quality and quantity of the end result.

Performance Management Process

A performance management plan consists of a five-step process. Let’s take a closer look at the five steps.

performance management: 5-step process

1. Plan

While employees’ goals and responsibilities are outlined in the job description when they come on board, it’s essential to review this information with them regularly. Clearly set and communicated goals will help your employees understand what is expected of them and when they are falling behind.

2. Monitor

Management should be monitoring their employees’ performance continuously. If you only check in once or twice a year, a slight veer off the prescribed path could have lasting impacts on one’s performance. That’s why staying in constant communication with your employees, and keeping an open environment for feedback is essential all year long.

3. Develop

If you have identified areas of improvement for your employee, you can work with them to provide training, mentoring, educational courses, or other materials that can help them get back on track or fill any skill gaps.

4. Rate

Without a rating scale, it can be difficult to recognize whether employees are improving from their development plan. Additionally, with a rating scale that is communicated to employees, they know where they currently stand, and what is needed to move them to the next level of performance.

5. Reward

While every step of the process is necessary, the reward may be the most important. Positively reinforce employees who are hitting their goals or working towards them. Recognize them for their hard work and for striving to be better and do better for the organization.

This can be in the form of bonuses, thank you cards with token gifts, public recognition, or through an employee rewards program. It not only inspires the employee who is being recognized but motivates others who may need an extra incentive.

Remember that the performance management process is a cycle that must be continuously employed throughout an individual’s time at your organization.

You’re never “done” with performance management and this should be conveyed to your employees when they join the company, and then communicated to them throughout their employment. Without open communication throughout the process, employees may become complacent in their lackluster job performance or disengaged.

Performance Management Best Practices

This concept and process have been around for years and thankfully, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. There are a number of performance management best practices that you can incorporate into your plan.

  1. Re-evaluate goals regularly. If there’s anything the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that societal shifts can demand a new approach to business. Goals may need to change and clinging to old decisions in a new world could cause you to penalize (and lose) good employees.
  2. Employ SMART goals. In order to be achievable, goals must be clearly defined and communicated, and Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Employees will be more likely to achieve goals when they are properly crafted.
  3. Utilize the objectives and key results methodology. The OKR methodology can help your team set, communicate, and track organizational goals. This will foster accountability among your employees.
  4. Have performance conversations throughout the year. Performance management conversations should not reveal any surprising information to the employee or manager. Ideally, managers are having open conversations with their team members about performance throughout the year, and performance reviews should serve as a check-in documenting performance over a specified time period. When you communicate regularly with each of your employees, they learn to expect constructive feedback and look forward to these encounters.
  5. Standardize and automate your process. All employees should follow the same performance management process, and be held to an even standard. In addition to making the process fair, there comes a tipping point when you may have too many employees to manage throughout a continuous cycle, and having a set process and automated software solution to manage performance reviews can be a helpful asset.

While creating a performance management plan in your organization will take some time and effort, it’s a necessary process for a thriving organization. Knowing which employees are excelling in their roles and reaching (or exceeding) goals, which employees need more support is priceless information.

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The Future of Content Success Is Social

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The Future of Content Success Is Social

Here’s a challenge: search “SEO RFP” on Google. Click on the results, and tell me how similar they are.

We did the same thing every other SEO does: We asked, “What words are thematically relevant?” Which themes have my competitors missed?” How can I put them in?” AND “How can I do everything just slightly better than they can?”

Then they do the same, and it becomes a cycle of beating mediocre content with slightly less mediocre content.

When I looked at our high-ranking content, I felt uncomfortable. Yes, it ranked, but it wasn’t overly helpful compared to everything else that ranked.

Ranking isn’t the job to be done; it is just a proxy.

Why would a high-ranking keyword make me feel uncomfortable? Isn’t that the whole freaking job to be done? Not for me. The job to be done is to help educate people, and ranking is a byproduct of doing that well.

I looked at our own content, and I put myself in the seat of a searcher, not an SEO; I looked at the top four rankings and decided that our content felt easy, almost ChatGPT-ish. It was predictable, it was repeatable, and it lacked hot takes and spicy punches.

So, I removed 80% of the content and replaced it with the 38 questions I would ask if I was hiring an SEO. I’m a 25-year SME, and I know what I would be looking for in these turbulent times. I wanted to write the questions that didn’t exist on anything ranking in the top ten. This was a risk, why? Because, semantically, I was going against what Google was likely expecting to see on this topic. This is when Mike King told me about information gain. Google will give you a boost in ranking signals if you bring it new info. Maybe breaking out of the sea of sameness + some social signals could be a key factor in improving rankings on top of doing the traditional SEO work.

What’s worth more?

Ten visits to my SEO RFP post from people to my content via a private procurement WhatsApp group or LinkedIn group?

One hundred people to the same content from search?

I had to make a call, and I was willing to lose rankings (that were getting low traffic but highly valued traffic) to write something that when people read it, they thought enough about it to share it in emails, groups, etc.

SME as the unlock to standout content?

I literally just asked myself, “Wil, what would you ask yourself if you were hiring an SEO company? Then I riffed for 6—8 hours and had tons of chats with ChatGPT. I was asking ChatGPT to get me thinking differently. Things like, “what would create the most value?” I never constrained myself to “what is the search volume,” I started with the riffs.

If I was going to lose my rankings, I had to socially promote it so people knew it existed. That was an unlock, too, if you go this route. It’s work, you are now going to rely on spikes from social, so having a reason to update it and put it back in social is very important.

Most of my “followers” aren’t looking for SEO services as they are digital marketers themselves. So I didn’t expect this post to take off HUGLEY, but given the content, I was shocked at how well it did and how much engagement it got from real actual people.

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

Writing a book is a gargantuan task, and reaching the finish line is a feat equal to summiting a mountain.

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Being position-less secures a marketer’s position for a lifetime

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Optimove Positionless Marketer Optimove

On March 20, 2024, the Position-less Marketer was introduced on MarTech.org and my keynote address at Optimove’s user conference.

Since that initial announcement, we have introduced the term “Position-less Marketer” to hundreds of leading marketing executives and learned that readers and the audience interpreted it in several ways. This article will document a few of those interpretations and clarify what “position-less” means regarding marketing prowess.

As a reminder, data analytics and AI, integrated marketing platforms, automation and more make the Position-less Marketer possible. Plus, new generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Canna-GPT, Github, Copilot and DALL-E offer human access to powerful new capabilities that generate computer code, images, songs and videos, respectively, with human guidance.

Position-less Marketer does not mean a marketer without a role; quite the opposite

Speaking with a senior-level marketer at a global retailer, their first interpretation may be a marketer without a role/position. This was a first-glance definition from more than 60% of the marketers who first heard the term. But on hearing the story and relating it to “be position-less” in other professions, including music and sports, most understood it as a multidimensional marketer — or, as we noted, realizing your multipotentiality. 

One executive said, phrasing position-less in a way that clarified it for me was “unlocking your multidimensionality.” She said, “I like this phrase immensely.” In reality, the word we used was “multipotentiality,” and the fact that she landed on multidimensionality is correct. As we noted, you can do more than one thing.

The other 40% of marketing executives did think of the “Position-less Marketer” as a marketing professional who is not confined or defined by traditional marketing roles or boundaries. In that sense, they are not focused only on branding or digital marketing; instead, they are versatile and agile enough to adjust to the new conditions created by the tools that new technology has to offer. As a result, the Position-less Marketer should be comfortable working across channels, platforms and strategies, integrating different approaches to achieve marketing goals effectively.

Navigating the spectrum: Balancing specialization and Position-less Marketing

Some of the most in-depth feedback came from data analytic experts from consulting firms and Chief Marketing Officers who took a more holistic view.

Most discussions of the “Position-less Marketer” concept began with a nuanced perspective on the dichotomy between entrepreneurial companies and large enterprises.

They noted that entrepreneurial companies are agile and innovative, but lack scalability and efficiency. Conversely, large enterprises excel at execution but struggle with innovation due to rigid processes.

Drawing parallels, many related this to marketing functionality, with specialists excelling in their domain, but needing a more holistic perspective and Position-less Marketers having a broader understanding but needing deep expertise.

Some argued that neither extreme is ideal and emphasized the importance of balancing specialization and generalization based on the company’s growth stage and competitive landscape.

They highlight the need for leaders to protect processes while fostering innovation, citing Steve Jobs’ approach of creating separate teams to drive innovation within Apple. They stress the significance of breaking down silos and encouraging collaboration across functions, even if it means challenging existing paradigms.

Ultimately, these experts recommended adopting a Position-less Marketing approach as a competitive advantage in today’s landscape, where tight specialization is common. They suggest that by connecting dots across different functions, companies can offer unique value to customers. However, they caution against viewing generalization as an absolute solution, emphasizing the importance of context and competitive positioning.

These marketing leaders advocate for a balanced marketing approach that leverages specialization and generalization to drive innovation and competitive advantage while acknowledging the need to adapt strategies based on industry dynamics and competitive positioning.

Be position-less, but not too position-less — realize your multipotentiality

This supports what was noted in the March 20th article: to be position-less, but not too position-less. When we realize our multipotentiality and multidimensionality, we excel as humans. AI becomes an augmentation.

But just because you can individually execute on all cylinders in marketing and perform data analytics, writing, graphics and more from your desktop does not mean you should.

Learn when being position-less is best for the organization and when it isn’t. Just because you can write copy with ChatGPT does not mean you will write with the same skill and finesse as a professional copywriter. So be position-less, but not too position-less.

Position-less vs. being pigeonholed

At the same time, if you are a manager, do not pigeonhole people. Let them spread their wings using today’s latest AI tools for human augmentation.

For managers, finding the right balance between guiding marketing pros to be position-less and, at other times, holding their position as specialists and bringing in specialists from different marketing disciplines will take a lot of work. We are at the beginning of this new era. However, working toward the right balance is a step forward in a new world where humans and AI work hand-in-hand to optimize marketing teams.

We are at a pivot point for the marketing profession. Those who can be position-less and managers who can optimize teams with flawless position-less execution will secure their position for a lifetime.

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