Building a successful MOPS team: Developing your MOPS talent (post 4 of 5)

September 28, 2021 Chuck Leddy

Note to Readers: “Building a Successful MOPS Team” is a 5-part blog series that focuses on people. The series will cover: (1) when and how to hire MOPS talent, (2) how to onboard talent, (3) how to effectively manage a MOPS team, (4) how to support professional development within MOPS teams, and (5) how to approach the future of MOPS. We asked Sojourn Solution Delivery Directors Claire Robinson and Carmen Gardiner, both with long experience working within MOPS and helping MOPS teams on behalf of Sojourn Solutions, to share their insights with us (and you) for this blog post series.

Continuous upskilling seems to be the present and future for MOPS professionals, as new technologies and new marketing approaches continue to emerge. A lot of the skills MOPS professionals use today will likely be obsolete within five years to a decade, as more tasks get taken over by automation, AI, or other advances we can only imagine. As more aspects of MOPS get automated, MOPS professionals will have to evolve their skillsets to add value.

A willingness and aptitude to develop your skills throughout a MOPS career is a prerequisite to success. We asked Claire Robinson and Carmen Gardiner to offer tips for how MOPS managers can support the development process of the MOPS professionals on their team.

Nine tips for how MOPS managers can support MOPS pros development

  1. Enable MOPS professionals to lead their own development. “One of the best things a manager can do is to enable MOPS talent to lead their own development,” says Robinson. “What you don't want to do is hand hold somebody through their development process or direct it for them. That doesn't set them up for success and doesn't teach them anything. If a MOPS manager is too directive, the person simply won’t learn the skills they need to drive their own development, to understand precisely what their passions are, what they’re good at, what they need to learn, and how to go about learning things for themselves.”
  2. Be a development coach. “The MOPS manager should be a good coach, encouraging the person rather than being too prescriptive about how the person should develop themselves,” says Robinson. “That could mean drawing out the interests and passions of the person during employee evaluations and check-ins rather than giving them a development agenda that’s driven by the manager. You should facilitate and support, but they need to decide the direction of their own development.”
  3. Pay close attention to your people. “You really need to pay close attention to the team and trust them,” says Gardiner. “As their manager, you need to be that supportive person on the team who enables the success of others. Look for what skills they enjoy using and which ones they’re good at using.”
  4. Catalyze development conversations to evaluate interests. “For the MOPS manager, it's about knowing how to start the development conversation and guiding people through that exploration of their interests rather than defining it for them. You facilitate rather than direct these conversations,” says Robinson, “which means asking the right questions and listening carefully to what people say and don’t say.”

    Gardiner agrees. “The MOPS manager should hold structured, regular conversations with every member of the team around development,” she says. “And if you've been paying attention, you should know what interests and affinities they have. If you don’t know, then ask them directly about their aspirations and where they’d like to go next. For example, if they saw someone speak at the Oracle conference and it inspired them, then offer to help them submit a paper. Speaking and translating your expertise and accomplishments into an engaging story can be a great learning experience.” 
  5. Advocate for a large training/development budget. “I started my career as a teacher,” says Gardiner, “so I've always been a big proponent of continuous learning and professional development. I've always carved out a large training budget, and advocated for it year to year. Having those resources allocated in advance makes team and individual development easier.”
  6. Incentivize people to use the allocated training/development budget. “Incentivize everyone on the team to use part of the training budget in order to meet their yearly bonus goal. Make it part of how you evaluate their performance. It doesn’t matter whether they submit papers for speaking engagements or webinars, or if they do internal training for others on the team or within the organization, or if they get outside training and certification. Whatever they want to do, you need them to further their learning and development,” says Gardiner, “so incentivize it.”
  7. Develop skills through challenging projects. “As a manager, you need to give each team member increasingly challenging projects and see how they handle it. If they come to you with questions and can still finish the project with minimal supervision, then you know they're good self-managers,” says Gardiner. “If they don't ask you any questions or if they ask too many questions, that’s a potential problem. When you see that, you know they're either not self-managers or maybe this particular project is outside their current skillset. Use all that feedback to help you help their development process.”
  8. Don’t forget to develop yourself.As a MOPS manager, you are the model for the whole team: you have to do for yourself what you do for your team in terms of spurring and encouraging development,” says Robinson. “If you've got to lead a team through change, which every MOPS manager must, you yourself need to feel comfortable and confident navigating change. The manager’s self-development is a good place to model the development of the team.”
  9. Know that development is never done. “When it comes to anything within MOPS, but especially the development of your team, it can feel like the job is never done. That’s because the goalposts are always moving, just as new technology and new trends will always continue to evolve,” says Robinson. “The MOPS manager’s role is to help the team learn how to be adaptable, helping them develop a mindset that accommodates change. So that might include scenario planning -- getting people to think about what they’ll do if XYZ happens, so when change comes, they’ll have a better idea of  how to react and how they can change as a result.”

If you’d like to learn more about developing your MOPS team talent - and thus your marketing performance - reach out to us here.

Next in this series: Building a successful MOPS team: Preparing for the future of MOPS (post 5 of 5)

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Building a successful MOPS team: Preparing for the future of MOPS (post 5 of 5)
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