Thursday, August 4, 2011

What Is Your Job? How Someone Answers Can Be Telling

Recognition Of The Person Behind The Title Is Critical For A Marketing Organization's Success

Once I was having a late dinner meeting was with a friend who was a senior marketing executive with Fortune 500 company. We were discussing his plans to reorganize his marketing department and he wanted some feedback. He brought an existing org chart and began describing his thoughts on the new reorg. Both the old and new charts had boxes filled with many names with lofty titles like VP of Interactive Marketing, VP of Relationship Marketing, VP of Strategic Partnerships, etc. etc. Connecting these many boxes were lots of solid and dotted lines representing the various interrelationships and who reports to who. He said the old chart wasn't working and he wanted to shake things up.

I asked about the people in these boxes. As I pointed to each box, he would respond in terms of the job description as in, "That's Jack Smith. He is the VP of Advertising. This position is responsible for liasing with our ad agencies for all our broadcast, cable, radio, and print media. We recruited him from a major agency." As I pointed to each box, I got similar replies. During our meeting it seemed to me that the reorg was not really the solution. A reorg would be like having people change seats around a conference table. Same people. Different seats.

While we were exchanging ideas, our waiter came over to check on us. The service, by the way, that evening was superb. From the moment we sat down, we were in the hands of master. He was going to get a considerable tip for his performance.

Here was an opportunity to make a point.

I asked the waiter what his job was. I knew, of course, he was a waiter, but I was interested to hear his response. He looked at both of us and realized it wasn't a flippant or trick question. He smiled and said, "My job is taking personal care of all my guests. My job is to predict what they may need or want before they ask for it. My job is to make sure the kitchen prepares the food to my guests liking as soon as my guests are ready and that the bar gets your drinks out just as you requested. My job is to be your personal host during your experience and if I am successful, I want you to come back and ask for me. And if I have done my job well I hope you will recommend me and the restaurant to your friends. How's that? That's what my job is."

"Couldn't have said it better myself. Thank you." I looked over to my friend and said that is what you need to do. This restaurant doesn't need a new org chart. It needs more people like this young man to understand what their real job is which has little to do, by the way, with lofty titles.

If you asked each current member of your organization what his or her job is, what would they say? If they respond with the obvious, i.e. "I am the VP of Interactive Marketing and I am responsible for online, mobile, etc.", you have a problem. If, however, this person responds, "My job is to ensure that new media will integrate with other marketing assets of the company to insure we achieve our budgeted financial goals. My job will be to proactively work with my colleagues to ensure our mutual success." Now you are getting somewhere.

In other words, don't change org charts - change hearts and minds. The next time you meet with your colleagues, staff, friends, or perfect strangers, ask them what they do. How they answer will be enlightening. By the way, I have visited many restaurants since and in every case I ask the server the same question, "What is your job?" In each and every case, the answer has been "I am your waiter". Enough said.