Building a successful MOPS team: How to effectively manage MOPS talent (post 3 of 5)

September 17, 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.

Managing a marketing operations team is a challenging role if ever there was one. The MOPS function is multidisciplinary, encompassing technology, process optimization, and the relationship-building skills necessary to drive alignment within the MOPS team and outside of it. The effective MOPS manager wears multiple hats, must be conversant with emerging trends and be continuously upgrading their skillset to keep pace. Moreover, the effective MOPS manager enables and empowers others to collaborate and keep pace with change.

What soft and hard skills does an effective MOPS manager need to succeed? What are the do’s and don’ts for MOPS management? In this post, Sojourn Solutions directors Claire Robinson and Carmen Gardiner share the following ten tips for MOPS management success:

  1. Understand the “proper” role of a MOPS manager. “A MOPS manager needs to be able to support the MOPS team while also supporting the overall needs of the business,” explains Gardiner. “She needs to inspire people, including senior leadership, to think about future needs while maintaining the processes and standards of today.” What enables the MOPS manager to do that?

    “They need to have extensive experience with marketing automation, customer experience, customer journeys, sales, processes, analytics, security, governance, and relationship-building. They need to understand how all these work together to move the organization forward. You can't put a just-graduated MBA in the role without the experience and think they're going to be successful,” says Gardiner.
  2. Have a collaborative mindset and skillset. “The effective MOPS manager needs to be highly collaborative because nothing MOPS does happens inside of a silo. MOPS relies heavily on many other teams for cooperation, feedback and support,” says Gardiner. “Without a strong manager with a collaborative mindset, MOPS teams will quickly turn into ticket takers who add no value outside execution.” 
  3. Adopt and maintain a ‘growth mindset.’ “MOPS managers need to be lifelong learners, to really nurture a growth mindset within themselves and within their team. The best MOPS managers get people thinking about how to make themselves better and thinking about how to make others better,” says Robinson. 
  4. Develop and strengthen your empathy and emotional awareness. “Because MOPS managers are constantly dealing with people and because they also need to equip those people to deal with other people too, they need lots of empathy and emotional awareness in order to be effective,” says Robinson. “If you can’t read a room or can’t read other people’s non-verbal signals, then MOPS management might not be the right job for you.” 
  5. Be honest when delivering feedback. “Oftentimes, managers don't deliver enough feedback, which is a problem, but when they do, it’s not clear and direct enough for people to understand and apply, which is another problem. You can still be kind when providing feedback, but you absolutely must be clear so people know what the expectations are and how to change what they’re doing,” says Robinson.
  6. Develop the ability to bounce between the big picture and the small details (i.e., between strategy and execution). “The MOPS manager can be viewed as a ‘practical strategist.’ A lot of managers love to spend time in one camp or the other, focusing solely on strategy or day-to-day execution, but the MOPS manager needs to constantly toggle back and forth between both,” says Gardiner.
  7. Get comfortable with imperfection but keep chasing perfection.What keeps MOPS managers up at night are the expectations of other teams, including the senior leadership team. There's always that expectation of perfection. Where systems are concerned, perfection isn’t achievable, but it's the North Star you just keep chasing,” says Gardiner. “Teams are always asking for more, wanting more, and you need to prioritize all those needs in light of your current resources. That inevitable imperfection can cause insomnia.”

    Robinson agrees, explaining that It’s okay for MOPS managers not to have all the answers. “When you tell your team that you don't have all the answers, you also give people space to contribute, make mistakes and learn from them. You can still be credible when you don't know everything, and that honesty and humility is important for building the relationships you need to be successful,” says Robinson.
  8. Be curious. “Great managers come out of the gate from a place of curiosity. They have a willingness to learn about new technology, and what that technology might enable within their organizations. They also have a deep curiosity about how people work and think,” says Gardiner. “Often, being curious and asking the right questions can be a key driver of MOPS success.”
  9. Surrender control. “Being a leader is not about being in control, but about giving up control. If you have good people, then you have to trust your team to do their job. Let them know you're there to offer advice, answer questions, to give support, direction, and guidance, but then let them do what they do best. You are the buffer between them doing their jobs and all of the pressure and noise outside,” says Gardiner.
  10. Don’t dictate.What you should try not to do as a manager is dictate. It's demoralizing not to be asked your opinion or to feel like you're not part of the decision making process. If you're a dictator, your team will end up not trusting you and only doing what they're told, and they won't be happy. You're going to miss the best ideas because people won’t share with you,” says Gardiner.

If you’d like to learn more about optimizing your MOPS team and your marketing, reach out to us here.

Next in this series: Building a successful MOPS team: Developing your MOPS talent (post 4 of 5)

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