Building a successful MOPS team: When and how to hire MOPS talent (post 1 of 5)

September 3, 2021 Chuck Leddy

Note for 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 Solutions 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.

Marketing Operations is about optimizing technology, processes, and people to achieve marketing results and increased revenues. People are an essential component for MOPS success. “People are at the heart of MOPS because you can't automate and templatize everything,” says Claire Robinson. “You'll always need smart, collaborative people within MOPS going out and building relationships with other departments.”

While technology and processes can be similarly available across organizations, “it’s the MOPS professionals who drive competitive advantage and carry forward the vision and strategy of any organization,” Robinson says. 

Evaluating skills gaps within MOPS teams

What happens when a MOPS team lacks the skills and knowledge to fulfill its strategic function? Evaluating a team and its skills should happen on a regular basis. “Managers need to pay close attention to aptitudes and skills as the team grows,” says Carmen Gardiner. “Even if you don't need a certain skill today, you might need it in the future. You want to know what skills are on the team and if there’s someone who has an aptitude for whatever skills the team might need to add, whether it's a people skill, organizational skill or a technological skill.”

Once your MOPS team grows beyond a certain size, you’ll probably need to develop areas of specialization. “You can start training your people, get them certified, and create specializations within your team for areas like campaign creation, architecture, data analysis, or whatever you think you need,” says Gardiner. 

You may also need to hire to add additional capacity. “It’s a red flag if you start seeing the team making more mistakes, missing deadlines, turning down projects and overall struggling to deliver quality output,” says Robinson. “When you start seeing your MOPS team losing motivation and getting burned out, you need to start asking whether you have the requisite skills and resources you need.” 

Closing skills gaps: 4 steps before you hire

You don’t always need to bring in a full-time employee/FTE to close the gaps your MOPS team faces. Here are 4 steps to consider before you go out and hire an FTE: 

  1. Train internally. “Begin by checking in with your team on whether somebody would like to learn the skill you need, because that will impact whether you hire an FTE or train someone internally,” says Robinson. “And yes, there's clearly a time investment in training someone, but it can be better to develop your existing employees rather than looking outside.”
  2. Prioritize the gaps. “You should be prioritizing your skills/knowledge gaps based on the strategic goals your team needs to deliver on,” says Robinson. “You need to define a plan to tackle the gaps that impact you the most. For example, and depending on your strategic goals, gaps in analytics or measurement/attribution capabilities might be more urgent to act upon than gaps in communication skills.”
  3. Be proactive rather than reactive on filling gaps. “You never want to get to the point where you feel like, ‘wow, we need to hire an FTE right now,’ because that urgency can lead to hiring mistakes that could be very costly to your MOPS team and your culture,” explains Robinson. Anticipate your needs, identify your gaps, prioritize them, then figure out next steps asap.
  4. Bring in a consultant. Whether you need to add extra capacity or an additional skill, hiring a consultant can be a good intermediary step because the consultant is much cheaper than an FTE. “A good consultant can simultaneously fill a skills gap and act as a mentor/coach for a MOPS team member,” says Gardiner. “But if you find you're spending more money on a consultant per year than an FTE, you may need an FTE.” 

How to hire FT MOPS talent: 7 great tips

Robinson and Gardiner are largely aligned on how to go about hiring MOPS talent. Here are their 7 suggestions:

  1. Get a referral. “You always want to hire a person that someone else in your network already knows and can vouch for,” says Gardiner. Referrals can greatly reduce the time and risk of hiring.
  2. Include the team. “Ask your team, especially anyone in the same or a similar role to the one you’re hiring for, to provide input throughout the hiring process, from writing the job description to filtering candidates to conducting interviews,” says Robinson. “Your own people have all this firsthand experience and knowledge of what it takes to be successful in the role.”
  3. Be thorough and candid about the job description. “The more detail you can give about the challenges of the role and about how your team does things,” explains Robinson, “the more likely you are to get the right candidates with the right experiences applying.”
  4. Consider cultural fit. “Smart companies are changing their recruiting process to carefully consider the cultural fit of candidates rather than just the hard and soft skills required,” says Robinson. Every MOPS team has its own chemistry and culture.
  5. Involve your team in interviews. “Your team’s involvement enables them to decide whether or not they can work well with the candidate and assess their cultural fit. It helps having multiple perspectives on each interviewee,” says Robinson.
  6. Give candidates a test. “Whether it's troubleshooting an email or a lead flow, or giving the candidate a set of data and having them present their findings, any real-world use case you can throw at candidates will be revealing about how they think and how they approach the work,” says Gardiner. 
  7. Watch for candidate red flags. MOPS professionals need empathy, an ability to read other people so they can build strong relationships within the team and across the organization. “Beware of ego,” says Gardiner, “because you need collaborators.” Look out if a candidate says, “I did this and I did that,” when they worked as part of a collaborative effort.”

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

Next in this series: Building a successful MOPS team: 10 steps to onboarding MOPS talent (post 2 of 5)

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