In December of 2013, the Harvard Business Review published an article, “The Hidden Benefits of Keeping Teams Intact.” The piece focused on the benefits of team familiarity, how to take advantage of the learning curve and why it leads to relevant content marketing. These messages resonated with me. I began thinking about how to put this into practice and started observing our team meetings, client meetings, and overall collaboration through this lens. Could we apply these messages to improve our team member experience at Mojo Media Labs? How can we use it to create better teams (and more relevant content)?
Fast-forward to today, I can honestly say that this concept does work in a content marketing setting. But to make it work, we had to make it more “Mojoey.”
How Defined Roles Help with Team Building
The first step in this process was to come up with defined roles. Trying to determine the effective roles for inbound marketing is an ever-evolving challenge, not to mention teaming the right roles together. (It’s taken me 10 years to figure out the difference between a role and a responsibility!) I had to apply RACI — responsibility, accountability, consulted and informed — with this clarity in order to take successful team building to a new level.
At Mojo, our roles look like this:
Account Manager (AM)
Account Coordinator (AC)
Content Writer (CW)
Digital Designer (DD)
Inbound Specialist (IS)
The responsibilities for each role are clear and manageable. If they’re not, we adjust accordingly. For example, we found that there was too much responsibility under the AM role, so we created the AC role from the AM’s responsibilities. Once individual roles were defined, we could focus on the roles of the team.
Skiing Our Way to Team Familiarity
We discovered that the first three letters of “skill” are ski. So to define team roles, build team familiarity and make it “Mojoey,” we came up with a ski theme idea. For one, ski runs have different degrees of difficulty — bunny, green, blue, black, etc. — that we could apply to our skills and certifications. Second, we named each of our teams after ski villages in Colorado: Team Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and Copper Mountain. Overall, this way of thinking helps bring team members together.
It also helps with team familiarity. According to the HBR article, there are “five factors are primarily responsible (for team familiarity).” Here’s how we approach each one of them:
Coordinating activities – Teams need a plan. Our marketing activity plan (MAP) is an amalgamation of RACI across the entire team and acts as a COO over the team, coordinating roles, tasks and more.
Learning where knowledge lies – Effective inbound is impossible for one person. The digital space is growing every day and requires a consolidated effort. There is a lot of knowledge that goes into each of the many inbound marketing responsibilities under each role of the team, which is why we encourage professional development and learning.
Responding to change – When a school of fish responds to a threat, they all stick together and protect each other simply by knowing what each other is going to do. Our team does the same thing when it comes to responsibilities. There are many factors in an agency that throw us off course, but we manage this stress with a familiar team that works well together.
Integrating knowledge in order to innovate – One of our core values is Conscious Collaboration. There is not an app for ideas; they only come from people — and people are most innovative when working effectively on a team. Effective collaboration happens when there is trust and when you can be vulnerable with your teammates.
Capturing value – The competition can replicate anything in your company… except your people. When there are great people on a team with strong values, it takes the competitive edge to a whole new level!
Keeping teams intact and fostering team familiarity is crucial for content marketing. That is not only relevant, but powerful. The HBR article summarizes this perfectly:
“What we do know is that in many cases, people who have collaborated before will work better together than people who haven’t—and that most organizations could do a far better job of exploiting this simple but powerful insight.”*