How Do I Avoid Burnout?

Hey Jo,

For the past month, I’ve been working late almost every night. I’m stretched thin across all the reporting and maintenance I have to do in a given day, and when I’m not on the clock, I’m still thinking about work!

It seems like there’s always more on my plate. More processes to improve, more leads to bring in, and more requests to handle. The MOPs world seems to reward this level of activity, but I need to take it down a notch. What can I do to stop burning out? How can I get time back for myself?

Thanks,

Always On Alex.

 

Alex, you did the right thing reaching out.

In the past, I’d fallen hard for this mentality of “MOPs never stops.” I thought “no” wasn’t an option, so I said “yes” to everything.

Soon, I was skipping lunches to catch up with reports. All of my reading outside of work was about Marketo. I’m pretty sure I was even dreaming about lead lifecycles.

Sales needs more opportunities, there’s never too much revenue for the business, and every other MOPs influencer has a blog and a podcast. With that much energy around me, I felt I needed to spend every spare hour catching up, being “productive,” and doing more.

I really didn’t. Neither do you.

Here’s how you take back control of your time:

 

Structure your goals and processes

There are always things you can improve on in martech, and it’s easy to bite off more than you can chew.

Got a big project on your hands? Break it down into small, achievable goals.

Come up with a plan and agree with your boss on what you’ll deliver and when.

For day-to-day tasks, reach out to your regular stakeholders and figure out workflows that mutually fit. Ordering your tasks based on urgency and time demands helps too—just factor in some meeting-free slots for yourself to really focus.

 

Ask for help

It’s impossible to know everything there is about a tool or have the time to do it all.

Speak with your manager about the budget for extra headcount or an agency to spread out the work.

Agencies are more likely to be within your reach, so it’s worth talking to other departments about their agency needs; you could score a better deal by approaching one with multiple streams of work.

 

Learn to say “no” and “yes, but…”

Be tangible about how much time a task takes, the knock-on effect of taking on new responsibilities, and the resources and sign-off you’ll need to do something well.

If a request brings something you don’t have the time or expertise to handle, “no” creates a boundary that helps everyone.

You get to focus on your main priorities, and that task goes to someone more suitable. Voicing the output consequences behind each responsibility sets clear, accurate expectations.

 

Give yourself space

Near the end of the day ask yourself ‘what am I really excited to do tonight?’

Put the laptop away when you’re back from the office; get up and move around if you’re working from home. What are you watching, reading, or listening to that you can’t do at work?

Whatever your hobbies, do them not because they’re “useful.” Do them because you want to.

Remember: eat right, sleep well, and look after yourself. There’s more to life than the grind.

 

You’ve got this, (and if you need any help, let us know).

Jo.

How to Develop a New Process with Your MOPs Team

TLDR: Developing a new process and incentivising your team to follow it takes two conversations. First, learn how your colleagues experience processes and why they perform tasks in certain ways. Once you understand why certain issues arise, you’re in a good position to make constructive suggestions that benefit the team. To get leadership’s backing, forecast the impact that implementing your process will have and suggest running a proof of concept. Keep an open mind to feedback after implementing the new process, and you’ll help to encourage better collaboration and results.

 

MOPs is often about delivering on requests and building things for teams around the business. Every webinar, report, or lead handover system you produce takes considerable planning and time-sensitive work behind the scenes. From gathering information to scheduling deadlines and approvals, processes that encourage efficiency and good communication are key to making your projects succeed.

If problems frequently hold back your team from getting things done—whether it’s missing data, poorly-paced deadlines, or low visibility into who’s responsible for what—a flawed or lack of process is likely the culprit. You might have a good sense of how to smooth things over, but suggesting changes to how your team works requires a sensitive approach, particularly in environments where people have been long attached to how they work.

In this Tough Talks Made Easy, you’ll learn how to pitch a new process to leadership and incentivise your team to follow it.

 

Listen and learn

The first stage of developing a new process: get to know how your team works and why. People naturally feel a great sense of ownership and personal responsibility with their work, so sudden criticism is likely to make your colleagues defensive and resistant to change. Even if you think you’ve identified a problem and have some ideas to suggest, watch and learn from your team first. 

Ask people to show you how they perform tasks, why they do things in certain ways, what their challenges and priorities are. When you’ve experienced a process from a broader set of perspectives and you understand why issues come up, you’re in a good spot to make constructive suggestions. Do your request forms give the MOPs team all the information they need? Where could a new checkpoint or approval flow help with visibility? Is there a more efficient way to order certain steps? Are your deadlines realistic and attainable?

Listen to your colleagues, take an interest in how they work, and you’ll convey that this new process comes from a place of empathy; a desire to make work easier and more efficient for the whole team. To embed a new idea into a team’s culture, you need advocates to champion the process, share knowledge, and encourage more people to participate; a human touch is the best way to accomplish this.

 

Make the case

Cementing a process in the team means getting the backing of your boss, whether that’s your CMO, CRO, or direct manager. Your CRO or CMO will be less sensitive to hearing about flaws, but they ultimately care about solutions that positively impact the business. Be direct in your assessment of the problems at hand, but focus on the outcome that your process will deliver, whether it’ll help people to work faster and more productively, attract more leads and opportunities, or make reporting and requests more transparent.

Numbers play a significant role in this conversation. For one, C-Suite wants to know if a process is going to incur costs for training or additional tools, so it’s reassuring news if you can use your current software to introduce new forms, flow builders, and any other technical pieces. Even more persuasive? Forecast the ROI of your proposal. 

If you’re pitching a process for the likes of webinars, with lots of dependencies to manage, you’ll have plenty of data points on hand to substantiate your case. Explain how your process will change aspects of the webinar such as spending per channel, time spent confirming speakers, building infrastructure, creating promotional campaigns, the lead handover process—and project how these changes will cut costs, increase efficiency, allow enough time for promotion, or result in more leads and opportunities.

Short on data points to do a forecast? Suggest trialling the process with a specific campaign, workflow, team, geography, or in another relevant context. A proof of concept gives you an opportunity to gather data and show your boss how the process performs in action. Run leadership through the before vs. after to illustrate how your proof of concept saves time, improves the measurement of leads, lifts ROI, or otherwise makes work easier over the ways of old, and your boss will highly appreciate that you spoke up.

Continuous improvement

Many processes connect or impact each other in some way, and the beauty of this conversation is how it can spur continuous improvement. If you’ve made some changes to your webinar process, for example, talk with your team about lead handovers. How can you measure or qualify leads differently? Will that change get leads to Sales faster, or surface more opportunities against your webinars? After you’ve got in the groove of a new process, follow up with your team regularly to gauge how it’s working and see where you can make things better.

Developing a new process and making it part of team culture starts with an open mind—speak to your colleagues and get to know how things work to discover where changes can really benefit the team. Project the impact your process can make before talking to leadership and suggest a proof of concept—if the process makes lives easier or gets results, consider your boss and team on board. Keep an open ear to feedback while the process is underway, and you’ll help to encourage better collaboration and results.

Get in touch for more on improving processes in MOPs.

 

How Strategic Changes Impact Tech: What Your CEO Should Know

TLDR: Whether leadership is looking to grow or expand into new service areas, new goals can change which tools are relevant to your business. Speak with your marketing ops team to understand if the proposal requires more time or budget. Before making the shift, visualize how each piece of your tech stack fits together to gauge any impacts. If a new tool is needed, allow for overlapping contracts, time to map out new processes and train people on a new system while they’re still using the current one.

 

Strategy and technology

The link between strategy and technology is essential for any leader to understand:

  • Your strategy sets the direction for the business and shapes your goals.
  • Your tech stack is the means by which you achieve them.

It’s easy to get attached to particular tools, but strategic intent gives purpose to each piece of tech.

Your stack is fluid. It evolves to solve problems and provide capabilities as your business needs change—a quality that’s especially clear when strategic change is on the way.

Whether leadership is looking to grow or expand into new service areas, the establishment of new goals can potentially change the tools that are relevant to your business.

If martech leadership is working on or has recently announced a new strategy, this Tough Talks Made Easy is for you. You’ll learn how to discuss the impact that strategic changes have on technology, so you can invest the time and budget you need to get your team and stack in shape.

 

Fitting the pieces together

First, your boss should consult with people around the business to better understand the impact of a proposed change. This ranges from director-level and management to the people in MOPs handling tools on a regular basis. Having these conversations early into the planning phase can reveal if a proposal demands more time or budget than first anticipated, along with any additional hires or new pieces of tech.

While putting together a plan, leadership needs to know exactly how your tech stack works across the whole organization. Changes to technology can reverberate across the ecosystem and cause unexpected trouble.

If your new strategy involves using a different marketing automation platform, for example, you then have the task of replacing a platform with lots of data tied into it and integrations with many other tools. Certain tools you’re using might not integrate smoothly (or at all) with the new platform—and that means new problems.

The message to impart here is to hit pause on a big shift until you’ve mapped out the tech stack across your business.

  • visualize how each piece fits together to establish the tools you have
  • understand why teams use the tools they do, and
  • verify how each tool integrates.

By doing so, you’ll better gauge the impact of a strategic change on technology. As an added bonus, you can spot opportunities to consolidate tools with overlapping use cases and save on budget.

Before surveying the market for new tools, ask your leadership to lay out their specific needs.

  • Is there a particular problem you’re looking to solve?
  • New capabilities to add?
  • Integrations that a new tool should have?

This promotes intentional, goal-driven tool adoption.

Sometimes, the trial period for a new tool isn’t enough to accurately determine the fit for your business. Limitations can become apparent after the demo and trial are complete. The clearer they are at establishing the necessary components of a new tool, the better equipped you are to find a tool that’s fit for the strategy.

We wrote an article about explaining your tech stack overhaul to your boss that may also be helpful.

 

Include a human touch

For the time and effort it takes to craft a strategy, punctuate it with clear goals, and make the appropriate changes in technology, the plan risks coming off the rails without a human touch.

You need people with the right skills and time allotted to make sense of any new tools and use them constructively.

When scoping out new technologies for the business, you’ll find that salespeople often understate the difficulty of learning a new tool and the time required to see real results.

The learning curve for the likes of a CRM, CMS, or MAP is steep. Realistically, it’s a job for multiple people. Adding a complex, foundational system onto the plate of a two-person MOPs team, in addition to their current responsibilities, is a recipe for burnout.

If your boss’ new strategy requires significant extra work or a new set of skills, the most sensible step they can take is to budget for new hires or an agency’s help — learn how we can help.

Likewise, leadership wants to achieve a particular result as fast and cost-efficient as possible.

Throughout a tool’s implementation period, allow for:

  • overlapping contracts
  • time to map out new processes and changes to data architecture, and
  • training people on a new system while they’re still using the current one.

 

Optimize your budget

If you can only budget several hours a week for your MOPs team to learn a new system, the timeline to understand how a new tool works and integrate it into the team’s day-to-day workload will naturally take several months.

This learning curve is something to consider when setting strategic targets.

And while your boss sets the strategy, the tactics are best left to the MOPs team.

The learning process is all about trial and error. Experimenting and finding out the best ways to use a tool to do the things you need.

The people using the tool will eventually understand better than anyone which methods work and what results are realistic. Leadership should trust them to decide how to execute daily and encourage their feedback to shape performance goals.

 

The takeaway

While strategy is your guiding star, the capabilities of your tools and the people in your MOPs team are what make achieving goals possible.

Plan for changes in technology and human resourcing as early as possible when developing a new strategy, and leadership can expect success.

Need some support? Drop us a line, we’re here to help!

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