Keys to the kingdom

Earlier this year I ventured out of the office in the drizzle, and donned my high-vis, to be given a live site tour. The Bolanachi building in Bermondsey, London is where our Housing Maintenance team are currently working hard to make it fire safe. This includes replacing the exterior cladding and meticulously checking every flat and balcony.

I'm always impressed with the enthusiasm of the teams on these projects. Especially when a well planned and methodical approach is essential. There is the ever-changing nature of a project like this where client and government brief alterations can force changes to the brief and deadlines. Liaison with residents is also very important so that there are no surprises - in this case being comfortable enough to let our teams into their homes.

One particularly striking conversation was when the project manager told us about his operations officer. He said that he was the most trustworthy and productive colleague he had ever worked with.

As usual, this visit got me thinking of lots of parallels to my own (admittedly more cushy) desk job. In particular how we're all trying to do less with more. All of the companies I see recruiting are looking for that individual who will stand out and be different from the rest. Someone like this operations officer who has the ability to cover when another person is ill, or on holiday, someone who is willing to learn if they don't know.

In a recent meeting with our marketing placement student I said that as a manager a really important skill to see in my team is to proactively find and solve problems. Even if the solution isn't perfect it's a really striking skill when most people wait to be told what to do.

We've all had an experience where we've been asked to help, perhaps an elderly relative, with a technical problem with a computer. Whilst it may not be something we've done before, or know how to do, we give it a go anyway, try some troubleshooting and eventually solve the problem. This is a lesson in why we shouldn't shy away from applying for any job which we want!

When recruiting for any role the most important thing to look for is this type of attitude. People can learn how to use software applications which they don't know how to use but it's a lot harder to change their attitude.

As well as this there are also some key skills which I feel make for the best digital marketers:

1. An understanding of the business and what makes the most money

To effectively market a business it needs to be properly understood. This helps when working out on which activities it is best to spend time. Then it's possible to actively prove worth and immediately begin to add value.

2. Not making things look complicated to make you look clever

This is particularly true in digital marketing which can traditionally be seen as an area best left to the technically minded. Taking the time to sit down with your team and show them how things work and why is really important.

3. Happy to be held accountable

Along with problem solving this is an attribute which definitely makes people stand out from the crowd. If leaders demonstrate it themselves then this is the best way to embed this into the company culture.

4. The ability to navigate a complex business

This became more evident to me when working on our website rebuild project. The ability to not get bogged down by internal structures and to simplify and be user focused is essential. There will always be conflicted demands but knowing how everything interrelates (or doesn't!) helps streamline how you work.

With an attitude that encompasses these four points it should definitely make a more effective marketer both as an employee and as someone who has a user-focused outlook.


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