Teaming up

Teaming up

A top marketer explains his tips for successfully leading a team.

Tom Christie-Miller has been director of marketing for the Institute of Directors (IoD) since 2013. He has spent his working life in marketing, starting out as a graduate trainee with Rank Hovis McDougall. Before taking up his current role, he worked for the global advertiser and marketing firm WPP, and has had two spells with Disney running brands and working on campaigns. He became Disney’s chief marketing officer in Europe, then head of customer relations.

At the IoD, which has 35,000 members and runs many ancillary events, Christie-Miller’s role includes overseeing IT and overall responsibility for editorial. Instilling a flexible, outward-looking and honest approach is, he explains, key to creating a successful team:

“Marketing isn’t a silo – it creates an interface within the organisation. A lot of people do jobs that weren’t always thought of as marketing. Nowadays, barriers between sales and marketing are increasingly porous, so you have to instill the idea that boundaries don’t exist.

“Yet there can still be turf wars between marketing and sales, or PR, or customer services. Part of managing is that you don’t want to create physical boundaries. You should allow people to move around – to self-manage. Most marketers get that intuitively.

“My job is to remind people in an organisation of what marketing is – to help them realise what we do and why we’re doing it. You have to create an atmosphere around that.

“People should be well-motivated. Marketers generally are, but they need the freedom to succeed. Of course, you’ll have turnover within the team – you anticipate that and I’d be worried if we didn’t. Turnover brings fresh ideas. You don’t want to have a dog-in-the-manger attitude where, whenever good people say they want to leave, you simply give them the money to stay. They need to have intrinsic, rather than extrinsic, motivation.

“I believe loyalty comes from buying into a mission – I’m not looking for hired guns. They need to have very clear goals, but you don’t encourage loyalty in the upcoming generation by compressing them into a rigid process.

“When people perform well, naturally you thank them. But you also need to be ruthlessly fair – you can’t be seen to defend staff when something doesn’t work. If something we do in marketing fails, you must be honest.

“You get loyalty within your team if what you say to them is a fair critique: that their idea was a good one, but it didn’t come off. You have to do that publicly. We need to be accountable – everyone knows that’s the case.

“If something did fail, we say ‘what can we learn from this?’ – no one should be admonished for trying. You have to talk openly - most marketers are fairly open and transparent.

“My advice to anyone recruiting is to hire people who are prepared to break down boundaries. Think about your network as one within the organisation – and don’t fight battles about definitions.”

Andrew Mourant Freelance Journalist CPL
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