“Marketing is the growth engine for the company,” says Tamara Bohlig CMO of AssetMark, a global investment management firm. But for many marketers, becoming that growth engine is not always as simple as it sounds. Effective change management is an essential skill for marketing leaders, who are often tasked with transitioning the role, reputation, and operations of the marketing function to better serve the needs of the business.

“If you want to be a change agent in any organization, you better make sure you’re aligned with the strategic goals of the company.” – Tamara Bohlig

In early 2016, AssetMark launched new – and ambitious – growth goals, but its marketing department was not resourced to scale their operations at the same rate. It was time for a change. Tamara led a total transformation of the brand’s processes, structure, and technology to enable the marketing department not only operate more efficiently but also more strategically. During Transition San Francisco, she shared five key takeaways that any leader can use to drive lasting change on their marketing team and beyond:

  1. Start with your people
    Your people are far and away your most valuable asset – without them your strategy, your technology, and, really, your brand are moot. At AssetMark, Tamara spent the first nine months of her tenure focusing on equipping her team for long-term success. Before she started investing in new processes or systems, she made sure that her team was open to change and felt empowered to excel. This meant not only making sure she had great talent, but also that everyone was in the right role on the right team.
  2. Together is better than alone
    Once you have the right people, you need to get them all on the same page. Think about how any change you’re implementing affects your team’s ability or likelihood to collaborate. For AssetMark, this was about getting the entire department operating in a unified system – centralizing and encouraging collaboration and enabling leadership to easily tie strategy to execution. And for Tamara’s team, Percolate was that unified system that enabled them to unite people with process. In her own words, “Percolate has become the hub of our tech stack.”
  3. Play the long game
    Frame change in terms of the long-term value and impact it will drive for the team. New processes many seem to some like merely “extra work.” Remember: the benchmark isn’t what you used to do, it’s what you should have been doing. “By doing the upfront work, it’s going to make everything so much smoother,” Tamara points out.
  4. “Burn the other ships”
    Many organizations – especially ones that have been around for a few years – have a variety of processes and systems in place that don’t necessarily connect seamlessly with one another. Establish criteria for determining which systems and processes can integrate with your new strategy – and “burn” the ones that don’t. It may be helpful to have an established “weaning” period before you shut off your old systems. For example, the AssetMark team used a 60-day beta period to help their organization migrate to their new digital process.
  5. Measure results
    This may seem like a given to many of us, but it’s especially critical when leading change. Before you implement any transition make sure it will ultimately enable your team to operate in a more measurable, more data-driven fashion. Second, be sure to follow-through and track any change that gets rolled out. Use this to decide what to continue doing and which elements of your process need refinement.

Want to hear more best practices from CMOs and marketing leaders on effective change management? Reserve your ticket for Transition 2017 in London.