Welcome to TechSPARK’s digital advice column, Dear E Me.

Every month we look at digital marketing problems affecting tech businesses. To submit your own question, just email us at (jo@leancontent.co.uk / hello@techspark.co)

Dear E Me,

I manage a small sales and marketing team for a digital agency. We outsource some stuff, like video production, and keep some in-house – mainly social media, email comms and event planning. The problem I have is getting everyone to collaborate towards upcoming events, or to basically share ideas. We often miss deadlines, or people don’t communicate with each other. I spend ages chasing everyone in big email chains. Can you help?


Hi Rob,

Welcome to the wonderful world of being a marketing manager. Giant email chains? No movement towards the project goals? That sounds very familiar. The great news is that you’ve written in, and you’re eager to do something about it. That’s half the battle.

So, for your team to get moving, I’m going to suggest three simple changes for you to make. Some will be harder than others. Right, let’s get started!

  1. Get buy in

Your first move is to get all stakeholders – external and internal – in a meeting together. In this meeting, it is your job (yes, yours) to outline the vision for sales and marketing for 2018. Explain the quarterly focus for everyone, the key upcoming events, and the rough targets you’re looking to hit. Ask people for feedback and listen.

After this meeting, you’ll get much more buy in for your ideas. Most middle managers make the mistake of assuming their staff know what to do. They probably don’t, but are waiting for your leadership, because they’re too afraid to ask. So, take the initiative. Get some doughnuts. Book a room. And tell everyone why they should feel excited. This means you take the lead, but it’s just about vision, not about actions. Because the next part is where people start doing their jobs. Wait for it…

  1. Get your team to add their actions into a shared plan

Once you’ve shared your vision for each quarter, create a shared spreadsheet (Google sheets is a fabulous and free tool for this) with the dates clearly visible, and a column for each team member. Their job is to fill in what they’re doing to support your plan, with their own ideas, and make themselves accountable to the group. Give them a clear deadline for this.

This will work for two important reasons. 1. They’ve already bought into the bigger vision, so will be more intrinsically motivated and 2. The shared nature of this document brings group accountability. If someone isn’t pulling their weight, it’s very visible.

  1. Set up a weekly ‘stand up’

Once the calendar is in place set up a weekly meeting (use Skype, or Zoom, or do it in person if you can) where everyone updates each other on their progress. This is a way of keeping everyone on track, forging new ways of communication (hopefully putting paid to those god-awful email chains we all hate) and seeing who isn’t pulling their weight.

When someone doesn’t deliver, I hate to say it, but it is your job to talk to them about it. But instead of passive aggressive emails, do the right thing and schedule a face to face. Ask open questions and try to understand why the work hasn’t been done. Support the person with training, or guidance if they need it. This, Rob, is the essence of your job.

Good luck mate.

Got further questions about managing a team? Get in touch with me here.