515: 8 Steps For Building and Leading a High Performance Team w/ Jen Anderson

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk Jen Anderson, Director of B2B Marketing at RentPath.

Looking for a guaranteed way to createcontent that resonates with your audience. Start a podcast, interview your ideal clientsand let them choose the topic of the interview, because if your ideal clientscare about the topic, there's a good chance the rest of your audience willcare about it too. Learn more at sweet fish Mediacom. You're listening tothe be to be growth show, a podcast dedicated to helping be to beexecutives achieve explosive growth. What you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools andresources? You've come to the right place. I'm Jonathan Green and I'm James Carberry. Let's get it into the show. Welcome back to the be to begross show. Today we are joined by Jen Anderson. Jen is thedirector of be to be marketing at Rent Path. Jen, welcome to theshow. Thank you. It's a pleasure to have you on the show.Today we're going to be talking about not only building, but building and leadinga high performance team. I think this is a subject that our listeners acrossthe board are going to get value out of. But before we get intotoday's topic, maybe you can tell us a little about what you and therent path team are up to these days? Sure. So, for those ofyou that don't know what rentpath is, Rent Path is a digital marketing solutionsand information provider to the rentals housing market. So we own five consumerfacing websites, apartment guycom, rentcom, Rentalscom, live lovely and rental Housescom, and consumers use those sites to find their next rental home. We monetizeaccess to those to that consumer audience through digital advertising, different communication tools,lead management things of that nature to property management companies across the country. Sowe're two hundred and fifty million dollar business where the leader and our in ourvertical today and we operate throughout the entire...

...lead to lease sale cycle. Justto give the audience a little bit of context, we recently went through somerestructuring when we had our new CEO join us. Mark Lafar joined us lastApril and he came from bondage use, the former CEO there. Mark hasa background as a CMO. He was the CMO singular wireless and he helpedlaunch the iphone with Steve Jobs. So when he joined our company he dida lot of analysis to understand where we were really strong, where there wasopportunity for improvement and one of the key changes that he made late last yearwas to restructure marketing and product. So we broke out marketing into two groups, consumer and be to be, and we also broke out several different teamsin be tob product as well as consumer product. So on the BDB side, my team reports to the head of BBB. There are seven departments thatreport up to him, and be be marketing this one of them. AndI joined the team I was formerly managing a digital marketing team, so Iconsolidated my team with the broader be to be marketing team and restructured it intosome we started in December. That's fantastic. I mean your resume certainly sort ofspeaks for itself. I mean you're obviously someone we want to have comeon the show and talk to us about BEDB marketing and today specifically you know, building and leading a high performance team, which I think is fantastic because wedo have a lot of guests that that come on and they have alot of incredible insight into the world of be to be marketing and things thatthe executives in our audience can be doing specifically for their company but I'm excitedto talk about. Okay, well, you know, what else can youdo specifically that is sort of team oriented? So I'm going to you, Gentlem, going to kind of let you...

...take it away. I mean theone of the first points that you were going to be making today was actuallystructuring for success. So what does that mean? Yeah, I think alot of people when they think about okay, you know, what do we needto do to incentivized performance, they go right to culture and they goright to, you know, hiring. But but the reality is that youcan hire the best people, but if they're not if you don't have thestructure and place for those people to be successful, you'll still fail. Sothe first thing that I did when I took the BDB team over was Ilooked at where, how are we structured today, and and what's working andwhat's not working, and what I notice, which is true of a lot ofmarketing words today, is that we were structured around channel. So wehad somebody dedicated to PR another person dedicated to email, another person focused onsocial and that really led to a lot of stylos where the team was runninginto each other rather than working alongside each other. To accomplish their overall goals. So what I did was I looked at what's our actual marketing process thatwe'd go through to operationalized marketing and really drive demand, and then I structuredthe team around that. And so we created three core pillars, demand generation, marketing operations and analytics and customer experience, and each of those teams is responsiblefor a part of the marketing process that we used to engage perspective buyersand operationalized messaging across channels to those buyers, as well as ensure adoption and retentionpost sale. So structuring in that manner to really allows for each personon the team to be part of the broader initiatives that were pursuing as ateam, but also allows them to really grow their competencyt or they're specialized indeep in a particular area. So will work broadly across various teams and alsoensures that we're thinking about marketing from an audience Sun Track Perspective so that eachinitiative is effective at achieving our our core objectives. Yeah, yeah, Imean it's a unique approach and it sounds certainly very effective and you've also mentionedcompetency and developing competency is actually sort of...

...number two in our in our interviewtoday about building and leading a high performance team. So can we delve intodeveloping that competency a little bit more? Absolutely so. One of the otherthings that I did once I structured the team around marketing process, was Ilooked at each person that existed on the team and evaluated where they really strong, where do they have opportunity to grow and become stronger and specific areas andwhat skills do they have that really would position them well for some things butbut not for others. And once I evaluated that, I moved people intorules where they had an opportunity to pursue that team and get really continue togrow that that specialization, but also stretching grow in other areas. So onceI put everybody into those rules, I also evaluated where do we have gapson the team and then I began to pull it in people that would helpround out the skills in the team. So, for example, how thisactually works is we have on our demand generation team we have somebody WHO's reallyskilled in campaign development. So she leads a lot of our campaign initiatives,but she also works with other members on the on the team to develop orcontent and sales collateral so that she can further develop in those areas. ThenI have another person on the team who comes from sales. So she's fantasticat thinking about, okay, if I'm a salesperson and I'm sitting in frontof a client or a prospect, how am I pitching this? And soshe's great at developing the right sales collateral for the end stage buyer journey.But because of that perspective, she's also really instrumental and helping us develop ourour camping strategy and our core messaging so that it's effective in the early stagesof the buyer journey as well, and that helps us better align marketing sales. And so each of the teams has this mix of different skills and competenciesand we've appropriately put people in the roles...

...where they can really flourish and grow. Yeah, I know it does sound organizationally as if you've you know,you're talking about getting people out of a silo and sort of aligning those efforts. So seems to be very successful with with the sort of organization that youhave going on. And point number three was this idea of organization and projectmanagement. So I'd love to know kind of how that also sort of differsfrom structuring for for success, the first point that we talked about. Yeah, so once you've got this sort of structure and please, I think Um, it's easy to sort of forget will someone still has to be looking atthe holistic big picture right, and so I'm certainly looking at that. Butit's also important for there to be defined processed in handoff across each of theseteams, both within marketing but also broadly across the company. And this isparticularly true for Rent Path. We're working with a lot of different teams withinthe company. We're sort of the intersection, so we're working with consumer marketing andconsumer product teams as well as BEDB product teams, sales operations it and, you know, three hundred and fifty sales people. So it's really importantfor us to make sure that we've got strong handoff and organization to manage thesedifferent cross functional initiatives. So one of the people that we have on theteam that is sort of that's it, sort of outside of the three pillars, is our marketing project manager and she's really responsible for ensuring that, aswe move forward with different initiatives, whether there's small, medium or large inscope, that we've got a very structured approach to each initiative, that there'sa project plan in place, that we have people who are assigned as responsibleand accountable, that we have firm deliverables in place and that there are dashboardsand place for everyone, whether they're inside marketing or outside of marketing, thatthey can see exactly where we are in each project, what's been complete,what's still in progress and and whether or...

...not we're hitting the the deadline.And so we have on each of those initiatives. We also the project manageris also responsible for facilitating bi weekly scrums, which are sort of all hands meetings, and this person she she leads the team through. Okay, lookingat our projects, not talk about everything that's ingreing. Let's talk about everythingthat's at risk and yellow and what's driving that risk, and let's talk abouteverything that's in red, what's a blocker. And this gives the the team anopportunity to not only collaborate across there the different pillars within marketing, butalso with the broader project teams and it gives everybody the opportunity to provide inputand help us move things forward. It also ensures that we're not doing duplicativework. So one of the things that we were doing when we were structuredon channel is a lot of people were doing a lot of the same thingsand didn't even realize it. So having these sort of scrums give it givesus visibility into what everyone is doing and how they're how they're all contributing tothe overall team as well as the company objectives. And because the project plansare visible to everyone, including our leadership team, everyone is aware of what'shappening and who's responsible for it, which really doubtails into our next topic oftransparency and accountability. Yeah, yeah, absolutely, and and I do want, I mean you're talking about visibility and I want to get into this pointnumber four of transparency. Can I ask really, really quick then, Jinyou know, when you do have these biweekly scrum ums, you know thereare a few key pieces of advice you have for making these something that yourteam looks forward to rather than rather than dreading, rather than feeling like,you know what we're just we're just having another meeting, we're just wasting time. I mean, do you do a couple of key things that sort ofkeeps it at pointed, focused and valuable? Absolutely so. We go through theactual project dashboard. So every project has a dashboard with a roll upview what's happening this week, and so...

...we try to make sure that it'svery structured. Everybody in the room is supposed to just focus on a fewkey points, something that they accomplished, which everyone it's an opportunity for everyoneto recognize each other, as well as focusing on the yellow and the redat risk and the blockers. When you keep things very pointed and keep thingsfocused on just what are the high level points that we need to really addressin this meeting, it keeps it moving. So our scrams are only thirty minutesand a lot of times we have more than ten people in these scrumsand so everybody has to be super disciplined with just move keeping it moving.It's not an opportunity for everyone sort of bloviate, but we keep it we'rewe keep it very much on track and focus on the key things that weall need to do to move forward for the week. We also meet twicea week. So in the beginning of the week and a little bit laterin the week and shares that not only do we know what we're supposed tobe accomplishing this week, but then we also, at the end of theweek, make sure that everything we talked about earlier and that week actually didget accomplished and if it didn't get accomplished, it's an opportunity for us to askwhy and what we need from the team to make sure that we canmight move it forward. Gotcha. Also blowviate, great word, I love. I love the fact that you use that word, very under utilized.Let's let's talk about point number four. Let's talk about transparency and accountability.Yes, so having these project plans in place, it really gives us transparencyinto what every single person on the team is doing. It also gives usvisibility, particularly me and the leadership team, visibility into resource allocation. And whatI've found is that people who are a players, particularly people who aredriven by performance and results, they want to know that they're hard work isnot only being recognized but it but that they're not the only ones working rightand so having accountability and transparency and places really important. I would argue probablytwo of the key components of being a...

...performance driven ten is offering those peopletransparency and accountability. So when you have these friends, when you have thistype of structure where everyone has visibility to what their colleagues are doing, theysee how everyone is contributing value, they see how everyone is allocated and itdeveloped a culture of trust and respect. It also empowers accountability. So ifsomeone isn't delivering on what their commitments are to the team, there's no hidingson it. The the the tasks are in red and and their past doand so when you have that level of visibility and everyone is looking at thesame information, everyone is held to the same standards of excellence. I wouldalso say that it's important for, I think, leaders to really hold peopleaccountable. You can't say that you have a performance certain team or that you'refocused on performance if you're not willing to make the hard decisions. So thereare times when you're going to have people in the team that are just notpulling their weight and as a leader you really have to make the heart decision. Can I skill this person up? Do they have the will? Ifthey don't have the will, then there really isn't anything you can do inmy opinion, there isn't anything you can do about that. You can Ican bring I can help skill someone up, that they have to bring the willfor a drive and the will to actually do the work. That's notsomething that I can teach someone. That someone something that I expect people tobring to the job and I have to be willing, just like every otherleader has to be willing, to hold those people accountable. There's there's certainlythere certainly needs to be, an opportunity for improvement, but when someone isn'tperforming, you must hold that person accountable and make the hard decision to letthem go, because otherwise, keeping people on the team who operate at alevel of mediocrity, all you're doing is is a roting trust, you're rotingmorale and ultimately you crush strong performance because your high players are a you're aplayers are going to say, why am...

...we working so hard when I'm beinghauled to hire standards than this person over here who seems to be getting awaywith it. So it's really important to not only say that you're holding peopleaccountable, but actually pull the trigger and do it. You know, itfeels like I've heard more and more people talk about this idea of sort ofaccountability for marketing as a whole as as a team, sort of tracking thethen marketing metrics you met, being able to measure marketing success versus just,you know, sales obviously easy to met easy to measure. Marketing a littlebit tougher. But as as sort of new tools become available, I've noticedthat there's more of this push to accountability for the marketing team as a whole. But it's interesting to hear it. You know, even internally, youknow the accountability and the standardization internally for your for your marketing team. Sothat's great. Point number five, and I think you've already started to touchon this, is the idea of recognition and and sort of incentivising increased performance. Yep, absolutely so. I personally worked in several environments where this wasnot done and the fact one of the things that I wanted to make surethat I did differently when I when I started to grow this team was tomake sure that when we do have a players that were moving them forward,that we're not losing them because everybody has treated the same. So it's onething to talk about incentivizing performance, is another thing to actually grow people,and I don't see a lot of leaders really focus on this and I thinkit's unfortunate because because people will grow frustrated. They want to particularly a players,people who are very performance driven. They want to know that what they'redoing is making an impact, and so if you're not focused on empowering thosepeople and advancing them, you're going to lose them. So one of thoseone of the things that I've done is I've really thought about what are someof the different ways that we can in sent up as performance, both froma from a verbal recognition standpoint all the...

...way through to actually advancing people.So the first one, that's pretty simple, I think, is providing verbal recognitionin front of the team, not just the marketing team, but thedivision meetings that we hold quarterly, as well as in front of senior leadership. Whenever I have the opportunity to to call out someone on the team forexceptional performance in front of our leadership team, I do it and it's important forthat, for anyone who's got that visibility into senior leadership to acknowledge thehard work of the people on their team. A lot of these people don't necessarilyearly interrupt with senior leadership on a day to day basis, so theydon't necessarily have exposure. But it's also important for your senior leaders to knowwhat people are contributing in the company. So I'm very careful to give creditto the people who are doing the actual work and and reward them with that, with that recognition, in that phraise at a leadership level, and thishelps build collaboration and appreciation into your team culture. When people are are recognizedonly by their by their leaders, but also by their peers, they feelappreciated and it's motivating. It helps them continue to want to come into workevery day to feel part of a bigger initiative, something that's bigger than themselves, bigger than the daytoday grind. The other thing that we started to dois implement non pay incentives, so things like extra time off. We workfrom home every Tuesday, but we've also offered additional remote working days. Whenpeople go above and beyond, I offer happy hours and team events. Ialso use different gifts to reward exceptional performance and I think it's just important formanagers and leaders to say thank you. It's it's yes, somebody's doing theirjob when they headed out of the park. But when somebody hits it out ofthe park and they go above and...

...beyond, you sometimes you need morethan just a thank you. A verbal thank yous and just isn't enough sometimes, especially when you're pushing through a major initiative and people are in the officeuntil eleven o'clock trying to get you know, deadlines. Hey, it's nice tosay thank you and then also say hey, by the way, takea day off, and so we've really we've really leveraged that within our team. And I think the last point is advancement. So I I don't knowwhy this is so uncommon, but I have seen it, particularly in midmarket march or businesses. There's this this perspective that everyone should just get athree percent raise, and I just I don't believe in that at all.I believe in pay. I believe in playing favorites and not playing favorites basedon I like this person. That doesn't matter. What matters is is somebodygoing above and beyond, are they contributing exceptional value, and if they are, you must reward that. And so I don't believe in giving everyone thissame advancement, the same performance paying crease. I think that that all that doesincentivize mediocrity. So I and I also believe that there's no reason whyyou can't find a way to give someone a an advancement of title, anadvancement of pay, as well as an advancement of scope of responsibility. Yes, it means that somebody else in the team may not get three percent,they may get one percent, they may get zero percent, but if youhave somebody who's our rockstar performer, they do deserve are more, and soit's important for that perspective to be applied to compensation and advancement. Everybody onmy team I have an idea of where they want to grow. Some ofthem are a little bit more articulate and thoughtful about that than others, butI'm always looking at even if they have an articulated specifically where they know theywant to go, I have already in my mind and idea how it canfurther leverage them in a more senior role. So I'm always looking at how itcan grow the people on my team...

...make sure that they're continuously advancing andand so I'm keeping the people that I need. I mean, at theend of the day, the Atlanta job market is competitive right now, soit's easy to lose good people. There's a lot of offers out there.I personally get contacted by recruiters on a regular basis. So if you're notproactively looking at okay, who are my top performers? Are they challenged?Are they growing? Are they a dancing you will lose them. Yeah,I love how how deliberate and thoughtful you are sort of when it when itcomes to managing the team, recognizing those, those allstar performers that you have.You know, it's not it's not an easy thing. It's so mucheasier to just, like you said, say oh well, everyone, everyonegets three percent this year. You've all worked very hard, but takes alot more time and effort to sort of be deliberate about. Okay, let'slet's think about, you know, what we're trying to accomplish, who's helpingus get that done? And and I think that kind of, you know, in a way definitely relates to point number six, having having a clearmission. Let's talk about that. Yeah, and I think I think this isreally important and it's a small thing that can have such a huge impact. So, as somebody who is also driven by performance. I one hundredpercent want to know what I'm working towards right I need to have a clearmission in front of me, and so I think if you have really strongperformers on your team, it's important that you document what it is that they'reworking towards. They have clear goals than mine. So there should be noconfusion on your team what the mission is, what the core values are, whatyour core objectives are. My team recently went through an exercise of actuallydrafting a formalized team mission statement documenting our core values and outlining each of ourobjectives, and each person had a part in that process, and so whathappened was every single one of them had...

...an opportunity to ensure that their voiceswere represented in that documentation and in doing that we gained a buy in.What are we actually here to do? Are we all clear on that mission? What are actual core values? Right, and performance and hustle were at thetop of our values list, along with accountability. We had we hada team meeting, we drafted this together, we formalized it and then we actuallyshared it out with others in the company and it's been incredibly empowering,I think, for the team because we've created sort of a unified team identity, but it's also really helped guide our interview process when we're bringing people ontothe team. So it's helps us remain focus on what's important, as wellas who are the people that we need to make sure that we're bringing into accomplish those specific objectives. Point number seven, radical candor. Let's talkabout it really quick. Yeah, so I am a firm believer in directcommunication. There's just no time for passive aggressiveness or team conflict and you'll alwayshave moments of conflict, but it's how you address them that really can makeor break your team. So my team we all challenge each other directly.I encourage it, expect it. Every single person when we when we're debatingdifferent ideas, is expected to participate and if they disagree with something that we'repursuing or an idea or a strategy, it's up to them to articulate thatduring those discussions. If they don't articulate it, then they are buying intothe solution that comes out the other end and they're responsible and accountable for helpingthe team implement it. So I think that there's an incentive there for themto voice their opinions up front so that...

...they have buying later on. Ithink it's really important for us to all just be very direct about that.It's also important that we're communicating with one another when there's a failure. Sonobody is perfect. We're in the we're in a kind of a transformation periodover at wreck and path where we're growing really fast and we're bringing in alot of amazing talent and we're growing out marketing and product substantially. But withthat comes the challenge of managing that transformation and so there are going to bemoments of failure, moments when things get dropped, when you know deadline ismissed, and in those moments of failure it's really important for the team tochallenge why. Sometimes it's because a of an organization issue, sometimes it's becauseof a competency issue, but it's important for all of us to challenge whythose failures occurred, challenge directly and in doing so, put it behind us. We challenge, we get to the heart of what's going on, wesolution for it and we move on, and I think that that is reallyhelpful to date a strong team, our team. Because of that there's nopettiness, there's no backstabbing, there's it's not competitive in the sense that peopleare competing with each other. We're competitive in this sense that we want towin as a company, right, and so when we're all clear about wherewe stand with each other, there there's no misunderstanding, and I think that'sreally important. Is Transparency and and being radically candid with each other really allowsfor people to feel comfortable. Like if I if there's something wrong, someonewill tell me. If I'm not if I'm not meeting performance goals or ifI'm not following through my commitments, my teammates will challenge me on that,and so I think that that has been a huge benefit for us and hasreally helped us move the team forward. Then you and you haven't had tosend anyone to the rent path thunderdome where...

...sort of too much to marketers enter, one marketer leaves it. That sounds sounds like a healthier choice that you'remaking. Yeah, it's been really good. I mean the team has we justwe all get along so well. We all have a really healthy respectfor one another. I mean it's I think just being directed with one another. It's created mutual respect, which is a been very important for us well, jet, we're coming down the home stretch. Point Number Eight, theof the steps to building and leading a high performance team, professional development.Let's unpack that really quick yeah, so, I mean marketing is constantly evolving rightjust the rate of digital innovation is enough to warrant a training budget inyour broader marketing budget. And if you want to not only bring a playersin but continue to keep them, you have to continue to challenge them.So I have actually looked at ways that I can invest in my team's growth. We leverage online trainings as well as college courses. We go to seriousdecisions, dreamforce and different conferences throughout the year, not everyone, but thepeople who it makes the most sense for them to go. We also doin market field trips. So we have, you know, we have a considerablylarge sales team out in the field and every market is slightly different andso it's really important that every single marketer on our team understands what sales isfacing in all of those different markets. And so throughout the year we havea budget for everyone on the team to go out into the field to joinclient meetings, to enjoy and prospect meetings and get a feel for what stalesis facing so that we can better articulate in our messaging, in our campaigns, things that will help move the needle for them. And so I've alsoencouraged my team that if they feel like they're weak in a specific area orthey just want to learn something new to grow, encourage them to pursue thattraining. So I've actually set aside training...

...budget which I plan to actually increasegoing into two thousand and eighteen, just to ensure that my team it's constantlymoving forward and not become static, which I think is a challenge in today'sdigitally driven world. Yep, Yep, it makes a lot of sense,Jen this has been, I just I think, some tremendous content. Imean this is definitely one of our longer episodes, but I think it's perfectbecause everything that you were talking about makes a lot of sense. It wasvery well put together, very deliberate, great actionable pieces of advice for ourlisteners and if any of our listeners are interested in following up finding out moreabout you know, what they can do to build and lead a high performanceteam. They want to find out more about rent path, they want toconnect with you. What's the best way for them to go about doing that? Yeah, I'm on Linkedin. On linkedin is Jennifer Anderson, Alanzie,and alanzie's my married name, and you can also reach me at Jennifer Andersonat rent pathcom. Perfect, Jennifer. Thank you so much for your timetoday. It was a pleasure having you on the show. Thank you somuch. I appreciate it. If you've been getting valued from this podcast,you can help us reach more people by reviewing the show on itunes. Here'show you can leave a review in less than a minute. Open your podcastAPP and tap the search icon in the bottom right corner. Type in feeto be growth, then select our show. Once you're there, tap the reviewstab and tell us what you think of the show. These reviews helpus out of time. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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