So you just got that promotion. You are no longer and individual contributor. Now you have a budget, people and more pressure to perform. So now what? I have seen many a new manager fail in my time - in both small and big companies. They had big plans, but those same plans blew up in their face.
Perhaps if they had only read Dwight D. Eisenhower's quote in which he said "Plans are nothing; Planning is everything." This is not to say that plans are not good. You always need a plan. But, you also have to understand the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, and you have to know how to best take them on as you are forced to deviate from that plan.
Here are five simple rules a new marketing manager must follow to be successful:
Make Mistakes Early: Huh? Really? Why would I tell you to blow it in your new job. Well, I am not telling you to do that. What I am saying is that you must make small mistakes so you can learn iteratively. Fail fast, and fail often. Just don't sink the boat! A recent essay by Allison Gopnik in the Wall Street Journal called What's Wrong With the Teenage Mind discusses the development of an adolescents brain and how they react to growing up. In the article she states that, "You get to be a good planner by making plans, implementing them and seeing the results again and again. Expertise comes with experience." Exactly. So go make a plan and then make a mistake. Then figure out what you learned and how to adapt inside your organization. This does not just apply to a teenager. It is the basis for learning and planning for your life. Besides - you are a new manager, you have a grace period to screw up a bit without getting canned.
Get a Base Hit: Do not, no matter how enticing it seems, go for the big project (e.g. the "home run") in your first six months on the job. You must establish credibility. Show your peers, team and boss that you can deliver. Early wins are critical. You have to show that you can deliver some sort of impact in a very short period of time. Somebody is watching you - to either prove that you were the right hire...or the wrong one. (Yes, I said it. There will be folks who really want you to fail.) Also, you might find that a simple win may take you down a different and more enlightened path, as others bestow more trust in you - and in turn, more insider knowledge.
Kill Something You Own: There is no better way to show that you are ready to do anything and everything to ensure company success than by killing one of your own sacred cows. Don't kill something for the sake of doing so. Truly find a project or program (if you can) that is under-performing. Then kill it. It shows to everyone that you mean business. It also means that if you are willing to kill your own project, that you are also open to their advice and input on new things.
Get Out of Your Office: Sure, you know marketing. But do you know your customer? Better yet, do you know the sales force that is ready to pounce on your and your team and call you out for living in the ivory tower and not understanding what they deal with every day? Go ride along with a sales member or sit and listen to inbound sales calls. Bounce your ideas and insights off them. Find out why your original plan wont work. Trust me, it won't in its original form.
Be Ronald Reagan: No, I am not saying you have to be an actor or a Republican (although it would be cool if you were). You must embody his key saying, "Trust but verify." Trust that the folks who came before you were not total idiots (most of the time). Realize that they most likely have friends and allies still inside the building (perhaps it's those same folks hoping you fail). Just don't totally believe what you see or here unless you can read and analyze the metrics behind it. Dive into the facts. Verify what was happening and why it happened. Then augment your plan accordingly.
Well, that's it. No need to complicate the matter any further. Good luck. Have fun.