As a product marketing leader, you’ll know that having a motivated team is critical. But with demanding workloads, evolving priorities, and ambitious targets, motivation can often wane.
So, how do you keep your team engaged, creative, and committed for the long haul?
Discover seven proven tactics to motivate your crew, from inspiring OKRs to building a culture of recognition. Follow these tips to lead a driven, cohesive product marketing org that gets results.
1. Set clear, achievable OKRs
Setting clear, achievable goals is fundamental in leading an engaged team. After all, it’s hard to stay motivated if you’re not sure what you’re aiming for.
This is where the objectives and key results (OKR) framework comes into play. OKRs help you set and communicate clear goals, track progress, and ensure alignment within your team and the broader organization.
Let's say your objective is to increase market penetration for a certain product. This objective, while ambitious, becomes more tangible when broken down into clear, measurable, and time-bound key results. These could include achieving a specific number of new sign-ups, raising engagement rates by a certain percentage, or getting X number of positive reviews within the next quarter.
Remember, the OKR framework is not just about setting goals; it's about fostering a culture of accountability and alignment. When everyone understands the objectives, and their role in achieving them, it creates a sense of purpose and drives collective effort.
By using OKRs, you’re not just dictating what needs to be achieved; you’re empowering your team with clarity and purpose – two key ingredients for motivation.
2. Encourage creativity
No one wants to feel like they’re being told what to do 24/7. Instead, why not Inspire creativity by setting aside time for idea generation within your team throughout the week? Try to make this time as informal as possible – you could even conduct the meeting in your local cafe or bar.
This session can be as simple as throwing a customer pain point out to the group and having each team member write a possible solution down on a Post-it note. Collect the Post-its, stick them to the wall, and discuss them as a group. This works especially well if you keep the suggestions anonymous, taking the pressure off and encouraging more open, honest discussions.
Another option is to create a dedicated Slack channel or Kanban board. You can encourage your team members to post one idea per week. Then, gather a few of these to discuss later as a group.
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3. Foster a culture of learning
If you’re reading this article, we probably don’t need to tell you about the power of learning, but here’s some food for thought anyway: When you invest in your team’s professional development, you show that you're invested in their long-term success. This can be a powerful motivator.
Imagine the impact on your PMMs when they can dive into a cutting-edge course on consumer psychology or attend a messaging masterclass. Better yet – imagine they come back and share what they’ve learned with their colleagues. This not only brings new skills and ideas to the table but also fosters a collaborative environment where knowledge-sharing is the norm.
To make this dream a reality, allocate a portion of your budget to professional development or set aside a dedicated L&D day every quarter. You can even encourage your team to identify areas where they want to grow and give them the time and resources to pursue those interests.
By creating a learning culture, you're not just equipping your team with the latest tools and techniques in product marketing; you're building a motivated, knowledgeable, and cohesive team that's ready to tackle any challenge.
4. Acknowledge growth and success
To increase motivation within your team, it’s vital to acknowledge growth and success. This is about more than just putting a smile on your team members’ faces (though, of course, that’s important too) – according to one study, companies that build recognition-rich cultures have 31% lower voluntary turnover rates.
One way to start building a culture of recognition is to create a doc listing the positive steps and progress your team members are making – even things as small as an improvement in presenting skills or spotting a juicy tidbit of competitive news. Then you can take a moment to praise this progress in your next one-on-one.
If you’ve delegated a bigger task, like overhauling positioning and messaging, and someone on your team knocks it out of the park, this should be acknowledged in a bigger way. Why not give them a shout-out in the next all-hands meeting, or include them in the company newsletter?
But you shouldn’t be the only one shouting out accomplishments. Peer-to-peer recognition is every bit as vital as top-down shout-outs – after all, even the most hands-on leader would struggle to witness their team members’ every success. With this in mind, you could create a Slack channel or dedicated newsletter segment for people to thank their colleagues for going above and beyond.
In short, ensure that achievements – big and small – get the recognition they deserve. You’ll be shocked at the surge of motivation from your team.
5. Delegate the right tasks to the right people at the right time
Though it can be all too tempting to take on every last task, as a senior product marketer, you need to delegate – or risk burning out. In fact, when we surveyed product marketing leaders earlier this year, 61.5% cited delegating effectively as among the most important soft skills to master in their role.
Crucially, delegating key tasks is a great way to show you trust your team, and teams who feel trusted work harder, perform better, and are more likely to stick around.
But how to decide which tasks to delegate, to whom, and when? That’s a skill you’ll hone throughout your career. There’s a delicate balance to strike: You want to choose a task that’s challenging but achievable.
Pick one that’s too easy, and even if they pull the task off beautifully, it’s not likely to inspire a sense of progress or pride. Too difficult and you risk totally demoralizing the person responsible – the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve for your team.
So, as you consider handing over a key responsibility, ask yourself what makes this person the right person to lead this particular task. Have they shown an interest in this area? Have they demonstrated the relevant skills as they carried out another task?
And don’t forget – there’s more to delegation than just handing over the reins and bidding your reports “Good luck!”. Be sure to offer support where needed and check in regularly to make sure projects are on track and deadlines remain realistic.
6. Delegate authority as well as responsibility
While we’re on the subject of delegation, here’s a super important tip that often gets missed: Make sure you delegate not only the job but also the power to get the job done. Give your team members the power to make decisions based on their own expertise and research.
There will of course be areas that require your sign-off and sign-off from higher up - but you should empower your team members as much as possible to make proactive, independent decisions.
7. Promote a healthy work-life balance
When launch deadlines loom, it's easy to overlook the importance of work-life balance. However, as a leader, it's your responsibility to ensure that your team doesn't burn out. Encouraging a healthy work-life balance is not just beneficial for your team's well-being; it's crucial for maintaining motivation and creativity.
One way to promote this balance is by respecting your team's time outside of work. That could mean implementing flexible working hours or banning weekend work outright. You could also encourage taking regular breaks during the workday to recharge.
It’s also crucial to lead by example. If you’re sending emails late at night or during weekends, it sets an expectation for your team to do the same. Instead, show them that it's okay to disconnect and that you value their time off.
When your team has time to rest and pursue their personal interests, they come back recharged, bringing fresh ideas and renewed energy to their roles.
Implementing even a handful of the tactics here can work wonders. It’s about more than just getting the job done – it's about fostering an environment where creativity thrives, success is celebrated, and challenges are tackled head-on.
Follow these tips to lead a team that consistently rises to the occasion with passion and purpose. The results will speak for themselves.
Before you go…
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