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Finding the Perfect Mix: Balancing Task Orientation and Goal Orientation in Your Marketing Team

One of the most intriguing differences I noticed in managing teams is between task- and goal-oriented members.

The difference between these cognitive or working styles becomes apparent in situations where statues of activities are discussed. For example, task-oriented members describe their activities as "We did this and that." In contrast, goal-oriented members would focus on achievements such as "We generated fifteen new leads last week."

As a CMO, I've naturally gravitated toward and praised goal-oriented individuals. However, over time, I've realized that balance is the key to well-performing teams. Only balance can ensure that while our eyes are fixed on the horizon, we also pay attention to the path beneath our feet.

Balancing Perspectives: The Role of a CMO in a Diverse Team

For roles in charge of the big picture, it is perfectly okay to connect more with those who share the goal-oriented mindset. The leader's role is inherently strategic; it revolves around charting the future, setting more significant goals, and trying different approaches and strategies.

However, as leaders, we should not neglect the vital contributions of task-oriented members. They are the ones who turn our strategic visions into reality, who ensure that the day-to-day operations run smoothly, and who keep the gears of our marketing machine well-oiled and efficient. The key is to be aware of different mindsets, discuss them, assign members the roles that come more naturally, and educate them.

Task-Oriented vs Goal-Oriented: The Balancing Act in Marketing Teams

Let's explore why these two mindsets are integral to our marketing world.

Our task-oriented teammates are the gears that keep our marketing machine running smoothly. They meticulously manage our campaigns, track metrics with a hawk's eye, and maintain our social media platforms with finesse. They live in the nitty-gritty details, ensuring that our plans are executed flawlessly and our brand message is consistently delivered.

On the other hand, our goal-oriented colleagues ensure that all our tasks align with our overall objectives and that we're moving in the right direction. They think about different marketing strategies and approaches, predict the trends that will shape our industry, and keep the lines of communication open with sales and product teams.

If you look at it, it can be a somewhat symbiotic relationship. Task-orientation ensures we get things done, while goal-orientation ensures we do the right things. It's about recognizing each team member's strengths and creating an environment where both mindsets can thrive.

Let's look at some symbiotic examples.

Content Creation

A task-oriented person might focus on producing a set number of blog posts per week.

A goal-oriented one might question whether there are measurable goals behind i.e. are these blog posts effectively driving traffic and conversions?

If the balance is off, we could end up with a lot of content that doesn't help achieve business goals.

Campaign Management

A task-oriented marketer may be excellent at executing individual campaign elements, like email blasts or social media ads, but may not tie these tasks back to the broader campaign goal.

A goal-oriented marketer might be great at conceptualizing the campaign's overall message and strategy but might overlook the importance of timely and detailed execution.

SEO Strategy

A task-oriented individual might focus on ticking off all the SEO checklist items for a webpage—keyword usage, meta descriptions, alt text, etc.

A goal-oriented individual, on the other hand, might look at the overall performance of the page, questioning whether it's attracting the right kind of traffic and leading to conversions.

The risk here is either doing tasks that don’t contribute to the end goal or setting goals without defining the tasks needed to achieve them.

Social media management

A task-oriented marketer might be great at consistently posting updates and responding to comments, but they might fail to align these activities with the overall social media strategy.

A goal-oriented marketer might have a clear vision of the social media strategy but overlook the tasks necessary to implement it.

Brand Management

Task-oriented individuals may excel in maintaining brand guidelines across all materials but might not see beyond these tasks to understand how these efforts contribute to the brand's overall perception.

A goal-oriented individual, meanwhile, might focus on the overarching brand image and reputation but fail to pay attention to the details that ensure consistency.

How to manage the Task Oriented Mindset

One challenge With task-oriented individuals is the risk of losing sight of the broader strategy. They can become so engrossed in the details of their tasks that they miss the forest for the trees. For our task-oriented teammates, it's all about helping them see the larger picture and regularly linking their tasks to the team's broader objectives. In team meetings, for instance, I make it a point to discuss not just the 'what' but also the 'why.' When people understand how their work contributes to the big picture, they feel more engaged and aligned with the overall strategy. Another strategy is to involve them in strategic decisions. Yes, they are doers, but they also have valuable insights that can shape the direction. Encouraging their input makes them feel valued and deepens their connection with our goals. As team managers, we must distinguish between a mindset and a lack of knowledge and experience. It is normal to give newcomers more task-based assignments rather than high-level challenging goals.

How to manage the Goal Oriented Mindset

On the other hand, our goal-oriented folks, while fantastic at setting the vision and strategy, can sometimes overlook the details. They can get caught up in the big picture and underestimate the effort required to turn their vision into reality. This can lead to over-promising and under-delivering, which is a precarious position to be in.

As leaders, our role is to manage these challenges and facilitate a balance where both mindsets can shine and complement each other. As a leader, my role extends to coaching my functional managers to help them understand and appreciate this balance. To emphasize that being task-oriented or goal-oriented isn't a matter of superiority or preference but a matter of perspective and role.

Setting goals and measurable results.

A good start in balancing the roles and expectations is putting together a marketing plan that is goal-oriented.

In such a plan, different marketing strategies, tactics, and activities are defined to achieve different measurable goals. These activities are assigned to individuals, and the results are measured and compared with goals. Implementing project management principles and tools can also help. These tools break down goals into manageable tasks and milestones, providing a clear roadmap for execution. This not only helps goal-oriented individuals focus on tasks but also gives task-oriented individuals a better understanding of how their work contributes to our goals.

I can tell you that this works very well in aligning the marketing team with corporate goals and other teams, such as sales.

How to support a task-oriented mindset: it is a Journey, Not a Destination

Changing a person's mindset, whether from task-oriented to goal-oriented can be challenging because mindsets are often deeply ingrained and influenced by various factors, including a person's personality, past experiences, and training.

Changing a mindset is more than flipping the switch. It's about fostering growth and providing opportunities for team members to step out of their comfort zones and expand their perspectives. Here are some strategies to support individuals to develop new ways of thinking: 1. Awareness and Understanding: The first step is to help the individual become aware of their task-oriented mindset and understand how it impacts their work and the team. Provide constructive feedback that highlights their approach's strengths and the potential benefits of incorporating a more goal-oriented perspective. 2. Goal Setting: Encourage the individual to set personal and professional goals and consider how their tasks contribute to these goals. This can help them see the bigger picture and understand the value of a goal-oriented approach. 3. Training and Professional Development: Provide opportunities for training and development that focus on strategic thinking, decision-making, and other skills associated with a goal-oriented mindset. These could include workshops, online courses, mentoring, or job rotation experiences. 4. Coaching and Support: Ongoing coaching and support can facilitate mindset change. This could involve regular check-ins to discuss progress, challenges, and strategies, as well as encouragement and recognition of efforts to adopt a more goal-oriented approach. 5. Patience and Time: Changing a mindset takes time and patience. It is important to recognize and celebrate small changes and progress along the way rather than expecting immediate and dramatic change. Remember, the goal is not to completely change a task-oriented individual into a goal-oriented one but rather to help them develop a more balanced approach. As marketing leaders, our role isn't to favor one mindset over the other but to create an environment where both can thrive. We must facilitate the dance between the 'doers' and the 'dreamers,' ensuring that they complement rather than conflict. I encourage you to reflect on your mindset and consider how you contribute to your team's balance. Are you more task-oriented or goal-oriented? How can you broaden your perspective to better understand the other side? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments section! Is the difference visible within the team and how? How do you balance task and goal orientations in your team? Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash

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