Do Your Employees Have a Voice?

The Onion ran a funny blog titled, Employee Wishes He Had Enough Job Security to Voice Opinion. Like most Onion pieces, it’s funny because it’s true (sadly).

My firm has been working with companies to coach and implement Agile for Marketing (we call it A4M™). One of the benefits of A4M projects is that your staff — the people you hired for their skills and knowledge after all — will feel more empowered to offer up solutions and ideas.

The fictitious employee in The Onion is quoted saying:

The last thing I want is to open my mouth and irritate the wrong person. Maybe if I get that promotion I might feel okay at least hinting about some of the improvements I think could really help the department or offering my take on the new database software they’ve been trying out. But for now, I’m just going to nod a lot to suggest agreement.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Agile for Marketing applies the principles of empowerment and collaboration with clarity and transparency. It starts with leadership embracing the A4M approach and creating a sense of trust with their staff that they are empowered to speak up, offer solutions and make decisions. Too often, projects get bogged down while they await approvals and/or decisions up the food chain, or people are just told what to do rather than asked “what should we do?”.

With A4M, teams work in short timelines called Sprints. The priorities for each sprint are set together with the team and their manager(s) or CMO. After that, the team works independently to accomplish the tasks agreed upon. Within the sprint timeframe, the team makes their own decisions, raises solutions and collaborates to get the best outcome. The fear of making decisions, or more accurately fear of making mistakes, is calmed because A4M sprints usually last just two weeks. You’re making smaller bets so there’s less at stake (and more to gain over time). And the whole point is that you learn from poor performance, you makeit better and get it back out there.

Agile Marketing is a big change, but it’s for the ultimate good. Good for business (agile marketers report faster speed to market, quicker adapting, better performance) and it’s good for your teams (agile marketers report a rise in morale). It’s not always easy — but if you are hiring great people, get out of the way and let them shine!