If your job involves marketing in any way, shape, or form, does your immediate supervisor or boss “get” it? Does she have a basic understanding of marketing so that you are empowered to do your job and make your business or nonprofit look good and succeed?
Here are my recommendations for three different boss types:
1. Your boss knows nothing about marketing.
If the boss is open-minded and flexible, have a discussion about this. Ask if he is open to reading articles and blog posts that can help him learn more about marketing, in general, and current trends.
Send him brief items to read that can help enlighten him – without overloading him. The more he knows, the more he will understand what you’re doing and why. You don’t want a boss (without marketing know-how) directing or micro-managing you or you won’t last in the job.
Discuss your job description and evaluation process. Ask how he plans to asses your skills when he does not have a sound understanding of marketing. What are his expectations?
Ask if he will support the development of a marketing strategy, if there isn’t one. It’s easy to get frustrated working on marketing tactics when the boss hasn’t supported a solid marketing strategy. How can anyone assess what you’re doing without knowing where the organization is going? This is a red flag anyway. Good managers and leaders work from strategic plans, no matter what size the organization may be.
If your boss is flexible and believes in your abilities and talents, keep him posted on a regular basis. The more he knows about your activities, the better the relationship and the more you will achieve.
If the boss is threatened by you because you know more about marketing than he does, RUN!
2. Your boss has some understanding of marketing, but not as much as you do.
The same process applies. If the boss is open-minded and flexible, have a discussion about this. Ask her if she wants you to send her brief articles and posts on marketing to help keep her up to date. Remember, the more she knows, the more she will support what you’re doing and why.
Hold regular meetings to discuss the strategy and tactics so that you both share the responsibility and outcomes for your efforts. When necessary, ask her to help you prioritize your project list so you’re both on the same page. This will be especially valuable when her bosses (or the board) ask for reports.
If you are in a senior position and the boss micromanages you, or asks you to do things that are counterproductive to basic marketing principles, make your case and see if it makes a difference. If it doesn’t, RUN!
3. Your boss has a marketing background and knows as much as you do or more.
Depending on your title and responsibilities, this scenario makes a marketing team. If you’re in a junior or mid-level position, and the boss really knows his stuff, you have an excellent opportunity to learn from him. Soak it in and keep every bit of positive feedback you receive.
If the boss is open-minded and flexible, work collaboratively or make decisions collaboratively. If you’re in a senior position and report to a VP, CMO, or CEO, or small business owner, keep him in the loop regularly. Ask for his advice and feedback. Not only does it make him feel honored that you’re turning to him, it will keep him up to date on what you’re doing so there are no surprises.
If your boss totally empowers you and believes in your abilities, count your lucky stars. Ask him how often he wants you to report to him to keep him in the loop. You will need his support, so the more he knows, the better.
If he is totally hands off and isn’t interested in what you’re doing, that’s a red flag. It’s good to be empowered, but if something goes wrong, he could hang you out to dry.
Admittedly, I am no human resources expert, but I do have a lot of experience working inside organizations. Let’s just say these recommendations are based on my personal experiences working for both good and inept leaders.
Got any more advice on managing relationships with bosses who do or don’t understand marketing?