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 create content that resonates with your audience. Start a podcast, interview your ideal clients and let them choose the topic of the interview, because if your ideal clients care about the topic, there's a good chance the rest of your audience will care about it too. Learn more at sweet fish Mediacom. You're listening to the be to be growth show, a podcast dedicated to helping be to be executives achieve explosive growth. What you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources? 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 be gross show. Today we are joined by Jen Anderson. Jen is the director of be to be marketing at Rent Path. Jen, welcome to the show. 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 leading a high performance team. I think this is a subject that our listeners across the board are going to get value out of. But before we get into today's topic, maybe you can tell us a little about what you and the rent path team are up to these days? Sure. So, for those of you that don't know what rentpath is, Rent Path is a digital marketing solutions and information provider to the rentals housing market. So we own five consumer facing websites, apartment guycom, rentcom, Rentalscom, live lovely and rental Housescom, and consumers use those sites to find their next rental home. We monetize access 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. So we're two hundred and fifty million dollar business where the leader and our in our vertical today and we operate throughout the entire...

...lead to lease sale cycle. Just to give the audience a little bit of context, we recently went through some restructuring when we had our new CEO join us. Mark Lafar joined us last April and he came from bondage use, the former CEO there. Mark has a background as a CMO. He was the CMO singular wireless and he helped launch the iphone with Steve Jobs. So when he joined our company he did a lot of analysis to understand where we were really strong, where there was opportunity for improvement and one of the key changes that he made late last year was 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 teams in 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 that report up to him, and be be marketing this one of them. And I joined the team I was formerly managing a digital marketing team, so I consolidated my team with the broader be to be marketing team and restructured it into some we started in December. That's fantastic. I mean your resume certainly sort of speaks for itself. I mean you're obviously someone we want to have come on 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 we do have a lot of guests that that come on and they have a lot of incredible insight into the world of be to be marketing and things that the executives in our audience can be doing specifically for their company but I'm excited to talk about. Okay, well, you know, what else can you do 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 the one of the first points that you were going to be making today was actually structuring for success. So what does that mean? Yeah, I think a lot of people when they think about okay, you know, what do we need to do to incentivized performance, they go right to culture and they go right to, you know, hiring. But but the reality is that you can hire the best people, but if they're not if you don't have the structure and place for those people to be successful, you'll still fail. So the first thing that I did when I took the BDB team over was I looked at where, how are we structured today, and and what's working and what's not working, and what I notice, which is true of a lot of marketing words today, is that we were structured around channel. So we had somebody dedicated to PR another person dedicated to email, another person focused on social and that really led to a lot of stylos where the team was running into 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 that we'd go through to operationalized marketing and really drive demand, and then I structured the 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 responsible for a part of the marketing process that we used to engage perspective buyers and operationalized messaging across channels to those buyers, as well as ensure adoption and retention post sale. So structuring in that manner to really allows for each person on the team to be part of the broader initiatives that were pursuing as a team, but also allows them to really grow their competencyt or they're specialized in deep in a particular area. So will work broadly across various teams and also ensures that we're thinking about marketing from an audience Sun Track Perspective so that each initiative is effective at achieving our our core objectives. Yeah, yeah, I mean it's a unique approach and it sounds certainly very effective and you've also mentioned competency and developing competency is actually sort of...

...number two in our in our interview today about building and leading a high performance team. So can we delve into developing that competency a little bit more? Absolutely so. One of the other things that I did once I structured the team around marketing process, was I looked 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 and what skills do they have that really would position them well for some things but but not for others. And once I evaluated that, I moved people into rules where they had an opportunity to pursue that team and get really continue to grow that that specialization, but also stretching grow in other areas. So once I put everybody into those rules, I also evaluated where do we have gaps on the team and then I began to pull it in people that would help round out the skills in the team. So, for example, how this actually works is we have on our demand generation team we have somebody WHO's really skilled 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 or content and sales collateral so that she can further develop in those areas. Then I have another person on the team who comes from sales. So she's fantastic at thinking about, okay, if I'm a salesperson and I'm sitting in front of a client or a prospect, how am I pitching this? And so she'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 our our camping strategy and our core messaging so that it's effective in the early stages of 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 competencies and 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 you have going on. And point number three was this idea of organization and project management. So I'd love to know kind of how that also sort of differs from 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 at the holistic big picture right, and so I'm certainly looking at that. But it's also important for there to be defined processed in handoff across each of these teams, both within marketing but also broadly across the company. And this is particularly true for Rent Path. We're working with a lot of different teams within the company. We're sort of the intersection, so we're working with consumer marketing and consumer product teams as well as BEDB product teams, sales operations it and, you know, three hundred and fifty sales people. So it's really important for us to make sure that we've got strong handoff and organization to manage these different cross functional initiatives. So one of the people that we have on the team 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, as we move forward with different initiatives, whether there's small, medium or large in scope, that we've got a very structured approach to each initiative, that there's a project plan in place, that we have people who are assigned as responsible and accountable, that we have firm deliverables in place and that there are dashboards and place for everyone, whether they're inside marketing or outside of marketing, that they 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 manager is also responsible for facilitating bi weekly scrums, which are sort of all hands meetings, and this person she she leads the team through. Okay, looking at our projects, not talk about everything that's ingreing. Let's talk about everything that's at risk and yellow and what's driving that risk, and let's talk about everything that's in red, what's a blocker. And this gives the the team an opportunity to not only collaborate across there the different pillars within marketing, but also with the broader project teams and it gives everybody the opportunity to provide input and help us move things forward. It also ensures that we're not doing duplicative work. So one of the things that we were doing when we were structured on channel is a lot of people were doing a lot of the same things and didn't even realize it. So having these sort of scrums give it gives us visibility into what everyone is doing and how they're how they're all contributing to the overall team as well as the company objectives. And because the project plans are visible to everyone, including our leadership team, everyone is aware of what's happening and who's responsible for it, which really doubtails into our next topic of transparency and accountability. Yeah, yeah, absolutely, and and I do want, I mean you're talking about visibility and I want to get into this point number four of transparency. Can I ask really, really quick then, Jin you know, when you do have these biweekly scrum ums, you know there are a few key pieces of advice you have for making these something that your team 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 of keeps it at pointed, focused and valuable? Absolutely so. We go through the actual project dashboard. So every project has a dashboard with a roll up view what's happening this week, and so...

...we try to make sure that it's very structured. Everybody in the room is supposed to just focus on a few key points, something that they accomplished, which everyone it's an opportunity for everyone to recognize each other, as well as focusing on the yellow and the red at risk and the blockers. When you keep things very pointed and keep things focused on just what are the high level points that we need to really address in this meeting, it keeps it moving. So our scrams are only thirty minutes and a lot of times we have more than ten people in these scrums and 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're we keep it very much on track and focus on the key things that we all need to do to move forward for the week. We also meet twice a week. So in the beginning of the week and a little bit later in the week and shares that not only do we know what we're supposed to be accomplishing this week, but then we also, at the end of the week, make sure that everything we talked about earlier and that week actually did get accomplished and if it didn't get accomplished, it's an opportunity for us to ask why and what we need from the team to make sure that we can might 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 transparency into what every single person on the team is doing. It also gives us visibility, particularly me and the leadership team, visibility into resource allocation. And what I've found is that people who are a players, particularly people who are driven by performance and results, they want to know that they're hard work is not only being recognized but it but that they're not the only ones working right and so having accountability and transparency and places really important. I would argue probably two of the key components of being a...

...performance driven ten is offering those people transparency and accountability. So when you have these friends, when you have this type of structure where everyone has visibility to what their colleagues are doing, they see how everyone is contributing value, they see how everyone is allocated and it developed a culture of trust and respect. It also empowers accountability. So if someone isn't delivering on what their commitments are to the team, there's no hidings on it. The the the tasks are in red and and their past do and so when you have that level of visibility and everyone is looking at the same information, everyone is held to the same standards of excellence. I would also say that it's important for, I think, leaders to really hold people accountable. You can't say that you have a performance certain team or that you're focused on performance if you're not willing to make the hard decisions. So there are times when you're going to have people in the team that are just not pulling 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? If they don't have the will, then there really isn't anything you can do in my opinion, there isn't anything you can do about that. You can I can bring I can help skill someone up, that they have to bring the will for a drive and the will to actually do the work. That's not something that I can teach someone. That someone something that I expect people to bring to the job and I have to be willing, just like every other leader has to be willing, to hold those people accountable. There's there's certainly there certainly needs to be, an opportunity for improvement, but when someone isn't performing, you must hold that person accountable and make the hard decision to let them go, because otherwise, keeping people on the team who operate at a level of mediocrity, all you're doing is is a roting trust, you're roting morale and ultimately you crush strong performance because your high players are a you're a players are going to say, why am...

...we working so hard when I'm being hauled to hire standards than this person over here who seems to be getting away with it. So it's really important to not only say that you're holding people accountable, but actually pull the trigger and do it. You know, it feels like I've heard more and more people talk about this idea of sort of accountability for marketing as a whole as as a team, sort of tracking the then marketing metrics you met, being able to measure marketing success versus just, you know, sales obviously easy to met easy to measure. Marketing a little bit tougher. But as as sort of new tools become available, I've noticed that 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, you know the accountability and the standardization internally for your for your marketing team. So that's great. Point number five, and I think you've already started to touch on this, is the idea of recognition and and sort of incentivising increased performance. Yep, absolutely so. I personally worked in several environments where this was not done and the fact one of the things that I wanted to make sure that I did differently when I when I started to grow this team was to make 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 one thing 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 think it'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're doing is making an impact, and so if you're not focused on empowering those people and advancing them, you're going to lose them. So one of those one of the things that I've done is I've really thought about what are some of the different ways that we can in sent up as performance, both from a 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 recognition in front of the team, not just the marketing team, but the division 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 for exceptional performance in front of our leadership team, I do it and it's important for that, for anyone who's got that visibility into senior leadership to acknowledge the hard work of the people on their team. A lot of these people don't necessarily early interrupt with senior leadership on a day to day basis, so they don't necessarily have exposure. But it's also important for your senior leaders to know what people are contributing in the company. So I'm very careful to give credit to 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 this helps build collaboration and appreciation into your team culture. When people are are recognized only by their by their leaders, but also by their peers, they feel appreciated and it's motivating. It helps them continue to want to come into work every 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 do is implement non pay incentives, so things like extra time off. We work from home every Tuesday, but we've also offered additional remote working days. When people go above and beyond, I offer happy hours and team events. I also use different gifts to reward exceptional performance and I think it's just important for managers and leaders to say thank you. It's it's yes, somebody's doing their job when they headed out of the park. But when somebody hits it out of the park and they go above and...

...beyond, you sometimes you need more than 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 office until eleven o'clock trying to get you know, deadlines. Hey, it's nice to say thank you and then also say hey, by the way, take a 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 know why this is so uncommon, but I have seen it, particularly in mid market march or businesses. There's this this perspective that everyone should just get a three 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 based on I like this person. That doesn't matter. What matters is is somebody going 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 this same advancement, the same performance paying crease. I think that that all that does incentivize mediocrity. So I and I also believe that there's no reason why you can't find a way to give someone a an advancement of title, an advancement 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 you have somebody who's our rockstar performer, they do deserve are more, and so it's important for that perspective to be applied to compensation and advancement. Everybody on my team I have an idea of where they want to grow. Some of them are a little bit more articulate and thoughtful about that than others, but I'm always looking at even if they have an articulated specifically where they know they want to go, I have already in my mind and idea how it can further leverage them in a more senior role. So I'm always looking at how it can grow the people on my team...

...make sure that they're continuously advancing and and so I'm keeping the people that I need. I mean, at the end of the day, the Atlanta job market is competitive right now, so it'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 not proactively 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 it comes 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 much easier to just, like you said, say oh well, everyone, everyone gets three percent this year. You've all worked very hard, but takes a lot more time and effort to sort of be deliberate about. Okay, let's let's think about, you know, what we're trying to accomplish, who's helping us get that done? And and I think that kind of, you know, in a way definitely relates to point number six, having having a clear mission. Let's talk about that. Yeah, and I think I think this is really 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 hundred percent want to know what I'm working towards right I need to have a clear mission in front of me, and so I think if you have really strong performers on your team, it's important that you document what it is that they're working towards. They have clear goals than mine. So there should be no confusion on your team what the mission is, what the core values are, what your core objectives are. My team recently went through an exercise of actually drafting a formalized team mission statement documenting our core values and outlining each of our objectives, and each person had a part in that process, and so what happened was every single one of them had...

...an opportunity to ensure that their voices were 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 the top of our values list, along with accountability. We had we had a team meeting, we drafted this together, we formalized it and then we actually shared 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 onto the team. So it's helps us remain focus on what's important, as well as who are the people that we need to make sure that we're bringing in to accomplish those specific objectives. Point number seven, radical candor. Let's talk about it really quick. Yeah, so I am a firm believer in direct communication. There's just no time for passive aggressiveness or team conflict and you'll always have moments of conflict, but it's how you address them that really can make or 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 debating different ideas, is expected to participate and if they disagree with something that we're pursuing or an idea or a strategy, it's up to them to articulate that during those discussions. If they don't articulate it, then they are buying into the solution that comes out the other end and they're responsible and accountable for helping the team implement it. So I think that there's an incentive there for them to voice their opinions up front so that...

...they have buying later on. I think 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. So nobody is perfect. We're in the we're in a kind of a transformation period over at wreck and path where we're growing really fast and we're bringing in a lot of amazing talent and we're growing out marketing and product substantially. But with that comes the challenge of managing that transformation and so there are going to be moments of failure, moments when things get dropped, when you know deadline is missed, and in those moments of failure it's really important for the team to challenge why. Sometimes it's because a of an organization issue, sometimes it's because of a competency issue, but it's important for all of us to challenge why those failures occurred, challenge directly and in doing so, put it behind us. We challenge, we get to the heart of what's going on, we solution for it and we move on, and I think that that is really helpful to date a strong team, our team. Because of that there's no pettiness, there's no backstabbing, there's it's not competitive in the sense that people are competing with each other. We're competitive in this sense that we want to win as a company, right, and so when we're all clear about where we stand with each other, there there's no misunderstanding, and I think that's really important. Is Transparency and and being radically candid with each other really allows for people to feel comfortable. Like if I if there's something wrong, someone will tell me. If I'm not if I'm not meeting performance goals or if I'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 has really helped us move the team forward. Then you and you haven't had to send 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're making. Yeah, it's been really good. I mean the team has we just we all get along so well. We all have a really healthy respect for 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, the of 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 right just the rate of digital innovation is enough to warrant a training budget in your broader marketing budget. And if you want to not only bring a players in 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 serious decisions, dreamforce and different conferences throughout the year, not everyone, but the people who it makes the most sense for them to go. We also do in market field trips. So we have, you know, we have a considerably large sales team out in the field and every market is slightly different and so it's really important that every single marketer on our team understands what sales is facing in all of those different markets. And so throughout the year we have a budget for everyone on the team to go out into the field to join client meetings, to enjoy and prospect meetings and get a feel for what stales is 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 also encouraged my team that if they feel like they're weak in a specific area or they just want to learn something new to grow, encourage them to pursue that training. So I've actually set aside training...

...budget which I plan to actually increase going into two thousand and eighteen, just to ensure that my team it's constantly moving forward and not become static, which I think is a challenge in today's digitally driven world. Yep, Yep, it makes a lot of sense, Jen this has been, I just I think, some tremendous content. I mean this is definitely one of our longer episodes, but I think it's perfect because everything that you were talking about makes a lot of sense. It was very well put together, very deliberate, great actionable pieces of advice for our listeners and if any of our listeners are interested in following up finding out more about you know, what they can do to build and lead a high performance team. They want to find out more about rent path, they want to connect 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 Anderson at rent pathcom. Perfect, Jennifer. Thank you so much for your time today. It was a pleasure having you on the show. Thank you so much. 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's how you can leave a review in less than a minute. Open your podcast APP and tap the search icon in the bottom right corner. Type in fee to be growth, then select our show. Once you're there, tap the reviews tab and tell us what you think of the show. These reviews help us out of time. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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