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15 Feb 2017

How to Create a Winning Content Team

by Lizzie Benton 0

My biggest success at Datify isn’t the number of high-quality placements I’ve managed to secure our clients, or the fact that I’ve managed to organise the office cupboard within an inch of its life. Nope, while that’s all felt really good, my real success is my awesome content team. Because aside from putting up with my diet sabotaging ways, and my bad habit for adding gifs to literally EVERYTHING, my team tackle every challenge I throw at them, and have established a high reputation with both journalists and other PRs alike for their beautifully written content and in-depth knowledge of our clients.

But that hasn’t happened overnight. Since starting with Datify I’ve made it my mission to create a team that could fulfil the expectations of our numerous clients, and make getting press coverage look like a walk in the park. And it’s taken time and a lot of hard work.

When I was first appointed as Content Manager at Datify, I thought “yuck!”, because the term ‘manager’ conjures such negative connotations of micro-managing, power hungry people that are always breathing down someone’s neck, or barking orders. But I decided I’d ignore the title and do the best by my team. Because ultimately we are exactly that, a team.

To put it into context, or in the form of hard data so that you don’t just think I’m blowing my own team’s trumpet for extra brownie points. Below is a graph that shows the average Trust Ratio of the placements we have gained over the past two years. The closer the score to 0 the lower quality the sites, the closer to 1, the higher the site.

So as you can see, when I started at Datify our placement quality was average for a digital marketing agency, but this year at the beginning of 2017 not only are we now over average, we are closer than ever to hitting that magical number 1!

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So now I’m sure you’re wondering, just how do you create a winning team?

1 – Have regular team hustles

Every Monday morning, I gather the team in the meeting room to go over absolutely everything and anything that’s going on with our clients. In fact, to give you a ‘sneak peek’ of what really goes down at Datify, this is our agenda;

Having a fun and inspiring talk to kick off the hustle allows the team to relax and feel good, because as we all know, if you’re stressed out and feeling a bit rubbish your brain is in the wrong place and it will never take on important information.

While these meetings only last for about an hour they are essential to ensure the entire team are on the same page. Plus, it allows each team member the opportunity to solve any of those annoying issues that might have crept up. Because more brains solving a problem is always better than one!

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2 – Let them own it

I schedule out everyone’s tasks at the beginning of the month and let them manage their own work. I don’t need daily updates or to check on what they’re doing every minute of the day. They’re adults!

My team know that if they get stuck or need help, I’m right here.

But breathing down their shoulder would never be productive for me or them.

If you don’t trust your team to get on and manage their work, then you’ve hired the wrong people.

3 – Schedule regular 1-2-1’s

On the first Friday of every month I schedule in 1-2-1’s with each of my team members.

These usually take place at the local coffee shop or bar, so that we can have a really good chat without anyone putting their head in to disturb us.

With each team member, I go through how they’re feeling at work, and in life, and we discuss their goals and targets for the year. Again, both professionally and personally. Because if I can help my team hit any of their goals, they’re going to feel happier, more confident, and know that they are supported fully in work and life.

These have become somewhat nicknamed as ‘Lizzie’s therapy sessions’, but I take great pride in caring for my team. Not because I want them to hit goals, but because I genuinely want them to enjoy their work and enjoy their life here at Datify.

Call me a hippie, but I’m a strong believer that all people matter in business, no matter their position, and they should be listened to.

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4 – Set micro challenges with rewards

If there are ever any challenges that I wish to put upon my team, I always ensure it comes with a worthy reward.

After all, as well as doing their usual awesome work, I’m piling on the pressure to push it a bit further, and I know how stressful this can be.

For example, I set a micro challenge last year and gave them a 3 month deadline in which to fulfil it. As I knew how much they love a good spa day, I offered this up as the reward. And of course, they smashed it.

The key here is to focus on a challenge that will both benefit them and the business, and to offer a reward that actually matters to them.

I know many businesses can get uptight about rewards, and to them I say, good luck with innovating your business and creating an inspired team!

5 – Keep training consistent

As well as holding monthly ‘Beer & Brains’ sessions where we all come together over a cold beverage to learn about industry changes or ways to improve what we do. We also regularly attend courses and workshops to continue to build on our knowledge, and ensure we are all up to date with the latest practices.

Not only do we all come away feeling inspired and motivated, but it genuinely makes us all more productive and think differently. Because if you’re stuck in an office doing the same routine day-in-day-out, inspiration doesn’t come easily. So physically getting out of the office and getting specialists to share their knowledge with us is priceless for our creativity.

6 – Be a leader not a manager

The ‘do as I say, not as I do’ attitude has to be one of the biggest failings you can have as a manager.

Yes, we’re human and we have our faults, but if you’re in a position of responsibility you should be leading the way, not leading them astray.

From communication to work, your standards should be high, because that is exactly what you would expect of others.

I never expect my team to do something I never would. So why should you?

7 – Don’t let things slide

I’m a stickler for high standards and organisation, and so should you!

The team hustles and 1-2-1’s are regularly scheduled to ensure they’re never missed. Because once one is missed it all begins to fall apart.

Organisation is taking control of the situation, so be structured and rigorous about your processes. Why?

Not because I get a hot sweat from missing anything, but because without structure your team will lose confidence, and feel that they’ve been shunned for something more important.

Your team are important, so make them a priority.

I’m by no means an expert at managing people, but from adopting these simple processes my team’s success has increased dramatically. A winning team, doesn’t come from one person’s success, it’s a joint effort.

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Lizzie Benton

Content Marketing Manager at Datify