How Marketing Can Regain Control

Traditionally, marketing has been associated with the four P’s – price, placement, promotion and product. However, if you were to look at a typical business-to-business marketing organization today, this function is being diluted.

For example, marketing doesn’t typically own the product anymore; that’s the responsibility of product strategy or product development teams. And, in some larger companies, there’s typically an entire team that manages pricing as well.

Another area that has shifted is demand generation. With customer relationship management technology, the customer funnel is now controlled by sales. This new structure could mean more dilution of marketing responsibilities and a one-step-removed approach from revenue-generating activity.

What can B2B marketing leaders do to guard against the watering down of their departments?  We share these steps from Debbie Qaqish, a principal partner and chief strategy officer at The Pedowitz Group.

A New Mindset. Your mindset is the collection of thoughts and beliefs that shape your behavior and habits. How do you think about marketing? What do you believe is marketing’s role?

There are two beliefs about marketing that shape today’s successful B2B marketer. First, B2B marketing is a revenue- and growth-driver of the organization. Next, B2B marketing is enabled by technology.

In companies where marketing is a revenue- and growth-driver, marketing isn’t facing dilution. Marketing in these organizations is actually acquiring more responsibilities. This realization is often the most difficult step because not just marketing, but sales, finance and the executive team may have to change as well. In organizations where marketing is diluted, marketing is often viewed as a “pens and mugs” and “activity-based” department. Once the right mindset is established, it can then be supported by the right skill set and the right tool set.

A New Skill Set. More attention is being paid to new technology than training marketers to acquire new skill sets, creating more opportunities for marketing to be diluted.

For example, imagine a large company where the marketing team is not viewed as very technical or analytical. That may have happened because when the marketing ops group was formed, it fell under the IT department. This is often a mistake as marketing ops is not an IT function. Had marketing acquired the right mindset and skill set, it could have owned marketing operations.

A New Tool Set. The concept of marketing automation today is typically not a problem, although some B2B marketers still operate without marketing automation. The issue today is that most marketing teams have too much technology; they don’t know how to optimize the tools they have. Determining what to buy, how to integrate and what to capture becomes a highly technical and analytical role within the company. For this reason, it’s common for marketing to borrow this capability from other parts of the organization — especially around analytics. This is a big mistake. If you want to own all of your potential, you need to have this capability entirely in marketing. Not doing so sets up more potential dilution and eliminates new responsibilities.

The Plus In The Equation. Positively, marketing is now impacting customer engagement. Marketing is beginning to lead the pivot away from product -focused to customer -focused companies by creating optimal customer experiences at every stage of the lifecycle. Customer engagement is an exciting set of new responsibilities for marketing, but marketing teams that are highly diluted will never get the chance to lead and participate. As the role of marketing continues to evolve, marketers must also evolve and become customer-focused change agents, accountable for revenue. As a modern marketer, you must guard against dilution by understanding these changes, challenges and possibilities. Then, take proactive measures to get your mindset, skill set and tool set in alignment.

Source: Debbie Qaqish is principal partner and chief strategy officer of The Pedowitz Group. She manages global client relationships and leads the firm’s thought leadership initiatives. She has been helping B2B companies drive revenue growth for over 35 years.

How To Stay Balanced And Be Heard

For many of us, a large portion of our time is spent at work; in fact, the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. It’s safe to say a job can make a huge impact on your quality of life.

However, how would you rate the quality of your conversations at work? How well do you know the colleagues with whom you interact on a daily basis? With so much of our time spent at work, it is important to foster an engaged and supportive workplace, and bring meaningful conversations into the office.

In a 2017 study on Global Human Capital Trends, Deloitte found that rather than focusing narrowly on employee engagement and culture, organizations need to develop an integrated focus on the entire employee experience, from the work environment to management practices to supporting functions.

Today, we share advice from business blogger Muir Keir to help businesses positively influence the entire employee experience.

Leaving “balance” undefined. The term ‘work-life balance’ is a regular topic of discussion in modern workplaces. Various strategies are put in place toencourage employees to achieve a work-life balance. However, the distinct line between work and home is no longer clear-cut, and our leisure time is regularly infiltrated by work, because of our own expectations or those of others. With today’s ability to access email and text messages 24/7, it’s easy for this spillover to take place.

The first step companies can take is to recognize that balance is unique to each individual. There is no “one-size-fits-all” concept. Perhaps we can help our teams achieve true balance in their lives by first accepting that the term is entirely subjective or even undefinable. Perhaps we can empower our employees by declaring that as managers we are comfortable that employees create this for themselves.

This means giving employees some autonomy in terms of hours they work and where they work to achieve their personally defined balance, which leads to flexibility.

Engaging through flexibility. Like balance, flexibility is innately personal and strongly valued. Flexibility in the workplace is key not only to increasing employee satisfaction, but also to fostering someone’s unique approach to completing a job to the best of their ability which, in return, results in increased productivity.

An example of flexibility is with the industry giant, Philips. This company developed and implemented employee leave policies that by default enable flexibility at work, including parental leave, grandparent leave, purchased leave and domestic violence leave available to all staff. Building on personalized support, the company also focus on employees transitioning through different stages of their career, including offering detailed career transition planning for those considering their path to retirement.

Creating a forum to be heard. Paramount to ensuring that employers stimulate meaningful conversation is to provide a forum where employees can be heard. Employees face unique personal challenges throughout their careers, and they should be supported to manage these in their own way. This is why many companies now have an employee assistance program (EAP), offering an extensive range of support services to all staff, as well as formal quarterly employee engagement surveys which allows everyone to have a say in how they feel about the organization.

That step of being heard simply starts with a personal question to an employee: How are you doing today and how can I make today a better day for you?

Source: Muir Keir is general manager of personal health at Philips Australia and New Zealand.

How To Plan Now For The Next 10 Years

Business author Rich Allen says that running a successful business requires a clear idea of where you want your business to be 10 years from now. It means having your own North Star that not only inspires you, but inspires your team as well. Essentially, if you want to get somewhere and you want people to follow you there, you have to visualize it first; you can’t be a leader without vision.

While that seems like obvious advice, the problem is, most of us are too busy tackling the everyday challenges to sit back and look at what we’re doing and where we want to be. Buried under the daily pressures of running a business, most small-business owners can barely think six months ahead, let alone 10 years.

Here, we are sharing Allen’s four simple steps to picture your business a decade in the future, and chart the best course to get there.

1. Start with the mountaintop. Imagine your business 10 years from now. Write down all the particulars you can of what your business looks like. There are no right or wrong answers here. The point is to focus on your vision of your business in the future: where you want to go, and what you want it to look like. Don’t worry about whether it will actually turn out this way.

Think about:

  • How many team members you’ll have
  • What locations you’ll have
  • What products and services you offer
  • How your business is structured
  • What your ideal customer or client looks like
  • What kind of volume you’re doing

 

2. Back up five years. Once you have the 10-year vision in writing, back up halfway. In five years, where do you need to be in order to be on track to hit that 10-year point? Cover the same details, and write them down. For instance:

  • How many people are on your team?
  • Do you have half the locations as in 10 years?
  • Are you offering the same products as services as now, or the same as in 10 years?
  • Have you found your ideal customers yet?
  • Are you doing half the volume you’re doing in 10 years?
  • Are you still going into work every day? What’s your own life like in five years?

 

3. Back up two more years. Now that you have your five-year vision, take it back to the three-year version of your business. Ask the same questions, and think about whether or not your three-year vision backs up your five-year vision: are you on the right course? Where do you have to be in here years in order to achieve your five-year goals?

4. Back up to next year. Finally, flip the script entirely: You need to take a sharp look at the next year—and now you have a 10-year perspective to do it in. So ask yourself: where do I need to be next year to be on track to reach my three-year vision? Use the same criteria, and make sure it’s as specific as possible.

By starting at the top and working your way back, you’ve already set up your goalposts. And with a very specific outline of your one-year, three-year, five-year and 10-year vision, you can start to create a plan and structure for your business that will get you to each benchmark. The truth is, if you just go on about your daily activities and hope you’ll one day end up where you want to be, changes are, it won’t happen. Instead, plan out where you want to be and use a vision to guide you.

Source: Rich Allen helps create businesses with solid foundations, unique marketplace positions, reputable processes, high-performance team and a visionary leader. Prior to becoming an advisor, he was vice president of human resources for Texas Instruments, then division president/COO with Pella Corporation. His new book is The Ultimate Business Tune Up: A Simple Yet Powerful Business Model That Will Transform the Lives of Small Business Owners.

What Your Employees Really Want To Know About Change

Organizations are organic. They grow, shrink, shift and evolve to stay responsive to customers and the ever-changing business climate. Sometimes change is good and sometimes it’s not. Either way, change can affect people’s jobs and create a sense of uneasiness or fear.

Today, we’re sharing key tips for planning and implementing change from Liz Kislik, a contributor to HBR, who helps guide organizations through change.

Plan more time than you ever thought necessary to prepare the content, delivery and necessary follow-up. When communicating across your organization, you should expect to hold not just one initial “all hands” meeting or videoconference, but also a series of smaller team and individual conversations as follow-ups. Also, coordinate the timing of the announcements so that no one is caught flat-footed if the news is released at different intervals by individual managers and organization-wide outlets. Giving people multiple opportunities to take in and process the announcement is essential for thorough understanding; receiving the information from the right sources in the right sequence is crucial for credibility.

Equip all levels of management to explain the context. Provide training and rehearsal or role-play time to everyone who will need to communicate the message; don’t assume they’ll have the right instincts.

Describe the organizational pain, and how the new solution alleviates it. Instead of just announcing a disruptive change, give the background of what’s not working today and why the new plan is the best way to get to the desired outcome. Focus on how customers have been hurt, how the business is incurring extra expense, the negative brand impact—and how the change will help mitigate those problems.

Personalize both the impact and the resolution. If you don’t, employees may not understand which specifics apply to them, or even how the company is providing support or services to help them cope. For example, in the small group or individual meetings, be prepared with all the necessary details to answer personal questions immediately. Without this, you’ll create even more anxiety and aggravation as people wait for someone to work out the specifics you didn’t research in advance.

Give the affected people as many options and as much participation as you can. When they have choices—and the necessary information or support to make them—employees feel more respected and maintain more pride and autonomy. The closer people are to the work, the more likely it is that they’ll generate practical ideas. Kislik gives the example of one organization that was having financial difficulties and provided a series of meetings about cost-cutting measures that asked everyone to look for ways to help—even though they were adversely affected by some of the very measures they proposed.

Demonstrate humility and responsibility, not just authority. Many leaders mistakenly believe that they’ll be given a pass for shaking up people’s lives if they say they’re suffering over the decision or the disruption themselves. Even treating the problem as a shared responsibility can backfire and feel manipulative to employees. Instead, say, “I’m sorry I didn’t anticipate …” or, “I was too enthusiastic about x…” This shows that you take seriously the impact of the situation on others. You can’t prepare for every curveball, so if you don’t have the answer to a question, say something like, “Wow, that’s a question we didn’t think about, but it’s a good one. We’ll get back to everyone with an answer early next week.”

Whether announcing cost-saving measures, a company restructure or an acquisition, by carefully planning your communication and providing the right level of detail at the right time, you can support your employees through the process with transparency and authenticity.

Source: Liz Kislik helps organizations from the Fortune 500 to national nonprofits and family-run businesses solve their thorniest problems. She has taught at NYU and Hofstra University, and recently spoke at TEDxBaylorSchool. Request her free guide,

How to Resolve Interpersonal Conflicts in the Workplace, on her website.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

Retrain Workers Now For Your Future Business

Look around your organization. Do your employees possess the skills needed to lead your business into the future? Mostly likely there are a few but the tendency is to hire new employees who bring the needed skills. In fact, 62 percent of executives believe they will need to replace more than a quarter of their workforce between now and 2030 due to automation and digitization. However, “upskilling,” or teaching new skills to your existing employees, can be a better and more affordable option, while building engagement and longevity with them.

Upskilling programs can’t be one-size-fits-all. Each employee has a different learning style, a different schedule and, potentially, a large amount of information to learn. Herey, we’ll share suggestions for developing employee retraining programs from Daniel Newman, CEO of Broadsuite Media Group.

The Best Retraining Programs Engage and Teach. Studies have shown that the most effective training programs combine engaging elements with specialized training modules. These modules should have online options as well as in-person instruction that focuses on completing skilled tasks. This training should also include digital and physical simulations for real-world, hands-on education. Digitizing the process and using technology like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) can achieve effective results with lower cost to the company.

Personalized Learning For All. On top of engaging learning programs, technology can make it possible to tailor programs to the needs of specific individuals. Part of the capabilities of machine learning happens in the back-end where voice recognition and patterns live. As employees are going through the training program, it recognizes who is using the program and adapts to their specific needs. Employees can experience personalized learning that continues to adapt to their specific learning styles. They can also get real-time feedback based on their performance. This personalized learning fills those gaps on an individual level, boosting confidence and morale. This kind of tool replaces those boring modules that are a pain to implement.

Pattern Building For Retention. Learning is only the first step. After all, have you truly learned anything if you have no ability to recall that information and put it into practice? This is where training reinforcement through pattern building is essential. Most companies struggle with this, seldom reinforcing the information given to a new employee after the initial training.

To be effective, employees must practice these skills they have learned in order to retain and use them. Intelligent applications can be used to improve retention by helping employees to produce patterns throughout their daily work. Once a pattern is established, new techniques can be implemented without confusion and strain. It is all about retraining without huge effort on your end and a new possibility thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Measure ROI Through Learning Success. Using technology for reskilling and retraining allows organizations to gather data on both the employees and the training effectiveness. This data also allows the organization to determine the ROI per employee for retraining. This will help you tailor your program to meet the unique needs of your business while remaining productive, efficient and cost-effective.

Planning For The Future. As AI is permeating many aspects of our lives and businesses, digital transformation is taking hold and we must do everything in our power to keep up. Our employees are the future of our business and must be skilled in these areas of technology to keep us competitive. By starting now, you are ensuring your employees are receiving the education through retraining programs they require to be successful for themselves and for your business.

Source: Daniel Newman is CEO of Broadsuite Media Group, a principal analyst at Futurum and author of Futureproof.

Trust Your Notes, Not Your Memory

When it comes time for your annual review or to ask for a raise or promotion, you’ll need to back up your request with examples of your good work. If you’re in sales, it’s comparatively easy to track how you are doing. But, if you are in customer service, for example, charting those accomplishments requires more attention. And, with the fast pace of daily work, it’s hard to find the time to stop and document achievements when you’re constantly in motion.

Today, we’re sharing these tips from blogger and personal finance writer Alicia Adamczyk on how to save and document great work throughout the year.

Take Contemporaneous Notes. Make notes in Google docs or the OneNote app, or write them in a journal book documenting each time you have a major “win” at work and when you routinely do tasks above your pay grade. You don’t need to make a record of every accolade but do catalog times when you’re singled out in a staff-wide email, for example, or you help a coworker with a big project.

Be certain your notes include dates, and if you are including an email or message from someone else, make sure the source is identifiable.

If you want to go further for your own reflection, use these steps from Idealist Careers to examine your accomplishments:

Think of a challenge that needed to be resolved.

What obstacles did you have to overcome to resolve it?

List the steps you took to resolve the challenge one by one.

What happened as a result of your actions?

You might also document additional wins such as:

Difficult situations with co-workers that you successfully worked through and how you did it.

Tasks and projects that were completed on time, and how you did it: Track all projects and tasks, even ones you think are small.

The times you overcame pressure and still succeeded in meeting your goals.

Track those situations when you know you exceeded expectations and explain why.

Take Screenshots of Everything. If your boss compliments you in an email or Slack conversation, take a screenshot and include a copy of it where you keep your notes.

Go Through Your Calendar. If you keep meetings and project due dates in a calendar, go back through it to jog your memory. You can also make note of accomplishments on your calendar, and be sure to set calendar reminders for occasional mini-reviews with yourself.

Make a Spreadsheet. If a journal app or accomplishments box aren’t your thing, try logging everything into a spreadsheet, which is easily sortable and can be customized however you like.

When it comes time to sit down with your boss for that review or raise, refresh yourself on what’s in your notes, and come with a page or two detailing your best metrics and biggest contributions. Then, write a follow-up email laying out your achievements (with dates and supporting evidence as needed). These extra steps will take you a long way to a top review and future promotion.

Source: Alicia Adamcyk is a personal finance writer and lifehacker.

Simple Ways To Recognize Greatness

How hard do your employees work for you? When your employees produce excellent work, do you take the time to thank and reward them? Not only does recognition make employees feel good, your praise incentivizes them to excel and helps retain them. Cultivating an atmosphere of continued achievement begins with giving credit where credit is due.

Research from Bersin & Associates reveals that 80 percent of surveyed employees feel more motivated to work when they believe they are appreciated. Another 71 percent say they’re motivated by the competition when peers are recognized for their work at least monthly. Proper recognition can do wonders for engaging your employees, even if they aren’t the ones being recognized.

Today, we share five simple and effective ways to recognize outstanding work from employees.

1. Buy a gift. The best employees give a lot of time and effort to their job, and you can return the favor with a gift. Put some thought into what you give. Generic gifts, such as gift cards, are appreciated, but they hardly show how much you truly value your employee. Instead, consider the needs and wants of your employees and don’t be afraid to spend a little cash to make them feel appreciated.

2. Create a personalized plaque. When an employee produces particularly good work, they deserve recognition beyond a simple gift. Give them something to forever commemorate the occasion, such as a glass plaque or award that can be displayed publicly on a shelf or mantel, and becomes a long-term keepsake for the recipient. Within the promotional products industry, the options are almost limitless. Opportunities to recognize good work can include special designations such as Employee of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, or other top-performer recognition awards. You might also reward employees for sales, leadership, milestones, customer service, safety, partnership or special categories.

3. Designate an Employee of the Month. If you’re in an informal setting and a banquet or award plaque seems too formal, consider developing an Employee of the Month program. It might seem like a simple way to recognize great employees, but it’s effective, and engenders productive competition and helps boost morale.

4. Invest in professional development. When you have high-performing employees who are eager to learn and advance their skills, reward them by providing professional development opportunities. You might pay for them to attend an industry conference (bonus points if it’s located somewhere tropical) or education program that provides training in their area of specialty, or pay the tuition for college classes related to their current work or career goals.

By investing in an employee’s education, you’re sending the message that they’re truly valuable. In addition, it motivates the employee to do a better job. It’s an investment in the employee and your company.

5. Donate to a nonprofit. Do some good while showing your top-performing employees you care. Allow your best employee to select a charity, and then donate a high-dollar amount to that organization. Studies show that when employees are enabled to provide service or donations to those in need, even vicariously, they tend to be happier and more motivated in their careers.

Source: Jenna Cyprus is a freelance writer in Renton, Washington, who is interested in travel, nature and parenting.

Four Reasons To Be A Lifelong Learner

Continuing your education and learning as both an individual and as a professional is important. While you may already be a very capable marketer and you read plenty on the subject, but learning is a lifelong skill that keeps one motivated.

It’s a popular belief amongst many professionals that continuing education should be reserved for people who need to learn new skills to stay employed. But, lifelong learning can benefit everyone. What’s more, lifelong learning can also directly benefit your employer, so it’s important to let them know that you wish to continue your professional development.

Today, we share the career benefits of professional development and education from career writer Mariliza Karrera.

1. It Keeps You Current And Up To Date: According to research, adult learners are the fastest growing segment pursuing education. The reason behind this trend is the fact that many professionals are beginning to realize that to remain competitive in the ever-changing world of business they need to stay current and updated. This is especially important since recent graduates may be a threat to your position as they will be more up to date with the changes in the industry.

And it’s not as simple as learning a few computer skills here and there. Professionals across all industries should closely follow trends and seek to provide depth in industry knowledge to remain relevant.

2. It Can Motivate You: Lifelong learning can also help make you happier, which in turn, can make you more productive. According to one study by economists at the University of Warwick, employees who are happy can be 12 percent more productive than unhappy employees.

Therefore, it’s especially important for professionals who aren’t satisfied with their careers to try and learn something new. The process of applying the new information to your job can help stimulate your brain and help you become more interested in your work. So, if you feel like you are losing interest in your career, consider signing up to learn a new skill. You might find meaning in your career again.

3. It Can Help You Grow Your Network: If you are interested in changing careers, taking a course is the first thing that you should do, not just because you’ll need to learn new skills but because it can also help you grow your network. Continuing education is a great way to meet other professionals in your industry. Your teacher or instructor is a great professional connection, so make sure that you form a close relationship with them as well.

4. It Helps Keep You Employed For Longer: According to recent data, it’s estimated that by the year 2020 over 60 percent of jobs will require post-secondary education. Many professionals are beginning to realize that a bachelor’s degree is not sufficient. You can’t expect information you gained before you started your career to keep you up to date, especially at the rate that the world is changing. Continuing education will help you remain equipped with valuable tools and information, and it will help you achieve the career development you seek. Keep in mind that the more current you keep your knowledge and skills, the better your chances are of remaining valuable to the team.

Source: Mariliza Karrera is a staff writer for Career Addict, the leading online career and employment website that provides tools and industry knowledge to help people succeed in their careers and achieve professional goals. Career Addict provides a wide range of services, from a comprehensive career advice blog and professional CV writing services to a state-of-the-art job board.

Ask The Most Important Interview Question

Business blogger Brendan Reid says there is one specific question you can ask during an interview that will help you to clearly understand a job candidate. 

Ask this question: Walk me through how this role and company will be different from previous experiences you’ve had.

The Research Test: Reid says he likes this question because the answer always reveals how much the candidate has researched the company and the position. If they don’t refer to specifics or cite examples that indicate they’ve done their homework or if they don’t demonstrate a clear understanding of the role, then it will be apparent.

The Self-Awareness Test: Self-awareness is an attribute that Reid says should be highly valued in candidates. If you aren’t self-aware and you can’t evaluate yourself objectively, it’s very difficult to be successful on a team. This question is great at revealing self-awareness. The candidate is forced to think critically about their own experiences and compare them with this new one. In the process, they must point to gaps and deficiencies to provide a thoughtful answer. The best candidates will be able to thoughtfully analyze and identify areas of difference and speak to how they will manage through them.

The Depth of Competency Test: Many candidates can speak at a surface level about a topic or function. The Internet makes it easy to prep basic answers to most questions, so the goal here is to force candidates to demonstrate a depth of understanding. It allows them to show how they can apply concepts from one job to a different situation.

The Learning Test: Another important attribute to look for in candidates is dedication to learning. The best teams are the ones that learn and improve every day. By asking a question about differences and gaps, you provide the context for the best candidates to talk about learning. Some candidates will try to minimize the relevance of differences. The best candidates, on the other hand, will speak to specific steps they intend to take to close the gaps. They’ll talk about learning.

Try this question in your next interview as an efficient way to discover the capabilities of your job candidates.

Source: Brendan Reid is an executive at one of the largest software companies in the country and the author of Stealing the Corner Office. He also writes a business blog and provides one-on-one career coaching.

Managers: Pay Attention To The Back Row

I recently read an article about a woman attending a  Zumba class at the local recreation center. It’s a class made up of all ages of women and men (yes, men do Zumba too) from high school to retirement age. Some people try it a few times and never come back. Some are seasonal attendee, and there are the regular diehards-those of us who show up as often as we can.

Over time, a pecking order has emerged among this hodgepodge group. The back row is typically made up of newbies who are trying to learn the steps or who have a difficult time keeping up in class. The next two rows are typically a mix of regulars and sporadic attendees. Some of them are uncoordinated and need some extra space to move around in. Others in these rows tend to be somewhat experienced, but they don’t want any attention as they go through the steps. In the next two rows, right behind the instructor, are the regular attendees. They know the steps, they put in 100 percent effort and sometimes they even throw in some additional moves or use hand weights for the added challenge. Finally, we get to the front row-those who do Zumba alongside the instructor. Obviously, space there is tight here, so this self-appointed, elite group is typically comprised of three to four proteges who like to interact with the instructor and don’t mind having all eyes on them.

During the time in this class, what she noticed about the front row. No matter how crowded the room is, these people always make their way to the front assuming they have a reserved spot there. These participants like to observe themselves in the mirror and they are confident in knowing all the steps. This group has confidence, expertise and there’s a sense of elitism. But if anyone else from the class attempts to step into the front row, there’s an unspoken threat that they don’t belong there.

One of the most difficult jobs as a manager is to create a fair and equitable approach to team development and team dynamics. In an environment where personalities and personal agendas impact team dynamics, sometimes the loudest get the most attention and others with potential but softer voices go unnoticed.

As a leader, what can you do to optimize your team members to get the most creativity and productivity? Try these steps:

1. Manage the spotlight. Every team has a super star—that individual or group of individuals who stand out. They are experienced at what they do and they let others know it. While they might be cordial to the team, they control the team culture. They believe they deserve the spotlight and can take up the boss’s time and attention because of this.

It’s easy to give into these individuals because they make their presence known. Sometimes these individuals will self-appoint themselves as “second in command” due to their tenure or experience. Be careful with this as it can be confusing, and frankly, degrading, to other team members. As a leader, you certainly don’t want to discourage high performance. However, you also need to manage your time and attention across your entire team if you are going to optimize the team and get results. These individuals do best when they know they’ll have time with you, so set up one-on-one meetings with these individuals so they can share ideas. And make it clear that your job, as the leader, is to set the direction and goals. It’s not up to them.

2. Give the second and third rows a chance to break through to the top. Often there’s great talent on a team that’s held back or doesn’t get exposure because of the front-rowers. Take time to identify that second- and third-row talent. Who does their job well? Hits deadlines? Brings new ideas to the table? Identify those individuals and give them some additional responsibilities that will grow their exposure across the organization. Whether it’s running the next staff meeting or planning the next corporate customer event, give them their own spotlight moments that won’t get overshadowed.

3. Groom those diligent attendees into front-row experts. Remember the team members who show up each week and are getting better and better at their skill sets. These team members might not have the skills down like other team members, but they are learning and have the potential to be part of the “front row” someday. If that’s the case, invest in these team members. Send them to professional development programs to hone their skills. Set them up with mentors in your organization. Help groom their skills and give them the confidence that they are up-and-coming high performers. By investing in them, you are not only building your bench strength for the future, you are also building employee engagement and, hopefully, employee tenure.

4. Don’t let those back-row success stories go unnoticed. Finally, don’t ignore the back row. The truth about the back row is that some of these team members will drop out or move to other teams. However, there are a few who will begin to move their way up in terms of skill development.

Be available to coach these back rowers and provide them with clear direction and instruction. With these team members, you’ll need to be proactive, reaching out to them individually and assessing their level of interest and engagement. By spending the extra time, you can determine where there are opportunities for improvement and where there are gaps in skills and contributions to the team.

There is also the opportunity to identify back-row success stories. These are individuals who quietly and unassumingly contribute in a very significant way to the team. Discover these successes and let others know.

Pay attention to your team dynamics and adjust the time you spend with team members based on their level of expertise and visibility.

Source: Cassandra Johnson is a tech-savvy marketing communications consultant and freelance writer. She reports on the latest trends in the promotional products industry, public relations, direct marketing, e-marketing and more. She supports clients in a variety of industries, including promotional products, hospitality, financial services and technology.