Teamwork Really Does Make the Dream Work

This January marked the start of my fourth year at Zerion. I started off as a relatively new, fresh-out-of-college graduate trying to find my place in the world. The power of community led me to Zerion so I jumped on the train and haven’t looked back. Well, when I do look back it’s to look at how much I’ve grown as a person and how much we’ve grown as a company.

When I started four years ago, I was the second person on the Sales/Marketing team (we were called the Customer Success team). The first person was the Director of Customer Success. We had a blast and “ship it” was the name of the game. I learned a bit about everything marketing related. I was a content writer, website manager, event coordinator, and occasional webinar host, among other things. Four months later, we added another sales person. As the sales team grew in numbers and I grew in experience, I slowly became my own little marketing department.

Over the two and a half years I became my own marketing team, a party of one. Demand from other teams increased and my headaches increased. It was hard to deliver quality to everyone and I felt like I was dropping the ball a lot. Towards the end of that two and a half year period, marketing became more of a priority and two of my coworkers jumped over from other teams to focus more on marketing. That meant there was an actual team! I had people to bounce ideas off of more often and could offload some of my responsibilities so we could accomplish more as a company.

The sun was shining, birds were chirping, and stuff was getting done. Even though both of my teammates were still straddling multiple departments and responsibilities, it felt good to be more than a one woman show. Eight months later, the search began for a marketing director who would focus on marketing and help grow the team and the company.

Talk about mixed feelings.

Knowing someone was going to join the team was exciting and terrifying. Finally, there would be another person fully in marketing. But how would I get along with them? Would they be a micromanager? Would they tell me I’ve been doing everything wrong for the last three years? I’d be able to learn from them! They would bring fresh energy to the team. So many thoughts and feelings.

When the right person was identified,hired and started, I had even more mixed feelings. We got along rather well but I couldn’t figure out if it was because we were in a honeymoon phase or because it was just that good. He let me own my work and supported me when and where it was needed. He identified the areas that needed to be strengthened and worked on them.

We started working with our freelance content writer more often and she became another part of our team. The third person from that initial three-person marketing team began focusing more on product marketing. We brought on a graphic designer who was able to give us a set number of hours each week. We hired another team member who focused on lead generation.

It was starting to feel like a real team and I felt relieved one moment and tense the next. Knowing there was more than just me was such a reassurance and knowing that I was giving up control which mean that things were going to change made me feel a little crazy at times.

It’s been six months and I’ve learned three important lessons.

  1. Trust your team

Trust is a big thing. People have varying levels of trust. For teamwork to make the dream work, everyone needs to be invested in the same end goal and needs to trust one another. There will always be bumps in the road and some moments may feel bumpier than others. However, there needs to be a mutual level of trust between you and your team, especially your direct team.

2. Speak up

In retrospect, I probably should have spoken up and advocated for a team earlier than I did (and I’m not sure I really ever “did”). Even if it didn’t make an impact at that time, the management team would have had it on their radar. This goes back to trust. Trusting your team means that you trust that you can speak up without feeling scared or worried you’ll lose your job or will be seen differently.

3. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable

This is an ongoing lesson for me throughout my life. Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable is one of my favorite things to do.Having a growing marketing team was quite uncomfortable. Necessary, yes, and also uncomfortable. Being okay in that discomfort, trusting the old and new team members, and being able to speak up as necessary means that I am able to get over the bumps faster and more gracefully than before.

To any growing team, I encourage you to look at where your teamwork isn’t making the dream work and how you can make changes in the right direction. Are there ways to empower your team to own their work? Where can you be more transparent in your communication?

Have you started making changes? I’d love to hear how it’s going!

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