Tough Talks Made Easy: How to ask your boss for help
Let’s see if you can relate to the following scenario. Your leadership has made an investment. That is the investment in you, your team, your colleagues and your tech stack. The challenge is that your team is SO successful that you make it look easy. You’re like the surfer, musician, ballerina or any professional athlete, it’s hard to appreciate all of the hard work that goes into MOPs. The outcome for many is that you’re drowning in work, requests, deadlines and deliverables.
The solution: you need some help.
This tough talk made easy looks at some of the arguments that can support your request for help. This is not an exhaustive list. Our team has worked client side and agency side. Not only does this give us empathy for your current challenges, but we understand how to position the rationale and benefits of some outside help. Let’s get started.
Speed. The first and the easiest argument is one of speed. You need someone fast. Agencies can deploy resources faster than hiring. Depending on which market you’re in, and/or flexibility in remote work, it can take a long time to hire someone. If you’re in the crunch with timelines coming fast and furious, this is one easy argument to get some help.
Experience and perspective. There are knowns and unknown knowns and unknown unknowns when it comes to MOPs. Bringing in a consultant can give you experience in areas that you’re not familiar with or feel like you’re not optimizing. For example, take attribution. We’ve seen all kinds of implementations that are not working or worse collecting dust. Attribution reporting to leadership can be extremely powerful. Getting expertise can improve your marketing automation’s performance by complementing your skills with others. An outside perspective in the form of an audit is a place that we’ve seen pay instant dividends. Another benefit of an agency providing help is that you have the benefit of their consultant’s collective experience.
Time and Volume. You don’t have the time to do everything. This is a harder argument to make when there isn’t a full appreciation of MOPs by your leadership. However if your team can do 50 programs a week and there is a need for 100, the time argument can work. The smaller your team the easier the argument that you can’t do everything. Increasing volume is a better argument than time. Keep time in your back pocket. It is better as a supporting argument than a leading one. Leadership sometimes can hear that everyone is busy and be perfectly fine with that.
Skill Gaps. We’d like to be good at everything, but there can be times where you just don’t have the skills to execute. We see this in the areas of analytics and dashboards all the time. You can be a Marketo genius but are you also super savvy with Snowflake and Tableau? (If you are, DM me, we love unicorns like you!). Your team might have some gaps that outside help can fulfill. The best part is that maybe you only need 15 hours a week in that role. A consultant can save the hiring of a full-time resource for part time needs.
Test Needs. This one is straight forward. You may not be able to accurately estimate the skills and time you need with support. If you start with a base number of hours you can decide whether you need more time or build the case to hire your own resources.
Off Books. This one is interesting but it’s more common than you would think. Clients often look to consultancies to assist them for the simple reason of not increasing payroll/headcount. This is a financial hygiene decision that an expense to a consultancy looks better than a salary in valuations. You could do some probing to see if this argument would fly, but is generally one that your boss’ boss might be more concerned with.
Neutral/Unbiased. A consultant can really help when there are tricky dynamics at play like introducing change within an organization. The perception of a neutral/unbiased perspective can go a long way in bridging divides and finding common ground. It could also just help you make your case. If an outside audit gives weight to the point you’ve been making for months, this can really help move things forward.
Accountable. Possibly the best part of having outside help is their accountability. They have timelines, deliverables and outcomes to get done for you. They are responsible for creating a plan and executing against it. Need something done for the end of quarter? Done. That type of accountability can go a long way in delivering what you need against your leadership’s asks.
Costs. This is always part of the equation. You will have to present the numbers. Many of the points made above validate the costs you have to present. The magic is if you can equate the cost for help and the return on investment. ROI doesn’t always have to be dollars in business closed. It can be a better alignment between sales and marketing. It could be reducing the costs of dirty data. It can also be the costs of moving with speed and predictability.
These are just some of the arguments that you can make in building your case for help. It isn’t always easy to ask for help. Some people see asking for help as a sign of weakness or failure. We couldn’t disagree more. Asking for help is a sign of wanting to get things done. Period.
As always, we’re here to help when you need it.