By understanding the strengths of the employees through the business, we can create an environment of opportunity for people to create careers for themselves that are led by their passion rather than a job title, creating jobs of enjoyment.
MEDIA 7: Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself? What inspired you to pursue a career in marketing?
KAYLEEANN MARITZ: As a youngster I was always very creative and spent a good amount of time designing, drawing, and creating my own imaginary businesses which essentially were brands themselves right at the time.
Coming from a multicultural family (South African, Greek, French) I was always fascinated with different cultures and backgrounds and how people interact, react and perceive things in different ways. My passion for creativity, people and culture, funnily enough, lead me to study a degree in languages and culture in university as it comprised of all the subjects (psychology, languages, advertising) that I found intriguing. I’ve always been passionate about people and understanding them on a deeper level and why they react and interact in the way they do.
When I completed my studies, I had the opportunity to work as a junior marketing manager for an FMCG brand. I had the pleasure of working closely with an amazing advertising agency that introduced me to the magic world of advertising and additionally had some great mentors – and not such great mentors. But both key to molding me into the business person to which I aspired.
I fast discovered how marketing was not only about advertising and being creative but how it actually had an overall effect and influence throughout the business from culture to people, internally in the business, and of course, the individuals outside the business whether they be consumers, partners or suppliers. I became excited about the idea that I could create positive change in an organization, holistically. This led me to become increasingly curious about people, their thought process and triggers, that affect their decisions making process especially in a business sense.
M7: How does Momenta cultivate an environment that encourages employees to seek guidance and support from leaders?
KM: Momenta operates on the mantra ‘All for one and one for all’. Our key value in our business which is also one of our slogans is ‘We put people at the center of everything we do’. As a business, even though we are a global corporate entity, we operate as a family. This stems from the CEO straight down the line. We operate on flat structures and open-door policies. Everyone in the business has close relationships with the leaders in the business and 24/7 access to any one of them.
Finding ways to add value and create connections with clients that might not have had the face-to-face interaction should be at the center of the marketing strategy.
M7: What should executives, line managers and HR professionals be concentrating on to achieve employee engagement and meet their strategic goals?
KM: Communication, training and showing appreciation. These are key to employee satisfaction. People want to be informed and be part of the journey. They also want to know that they are developing and working towards their personal goals and most importantly that they are appreciated.
Breaking down silos and creating a common goal for everyone is also exceptionally important to encourage innovation, peer-to-peer learning and opportunities for people to utilize their strengths in areas of the business that might fall outside their job description. For example, you might discover an individual who’s passionate about technology and has superior data analysis skills, but works in admin in the operations department because they are unaware of how to apply their strengths to other job areas. This person has the right strengths to be able to join the marketing function and work within the CRM team.
By understanding the strengths of the employees through the business, we can create an environment of opportunity for people to create careers for themselves that are led by their passion rather than a job title, creating jobs of enjoyment. All these factors drive employees to want to achieve more and give back more to the business.
M7: What do you see as the most noticeable change right now happening in the workforce, encouraged by the rise of digital technologies?
KM: Traditional working models are changing. Companies are wanting to adopt an agile workforce both from wanting to keep overheads low, but also from a standpoint of being able to fill skill gaps in a rapidly moving world brought on by technology where new skills are constantly required.
On the obverse, people are opting for more flexibility and fulfillment in their life which is taking them away from the 9-5 office location. Technology has been a key factor in being able to satisfy both sides by increasing efficiency, productivity and taking away the need to be present in an office building to work which has provided both cost savings and the much-desired flexibility. The adoption of this has been vastly fast-tracked in the past year due to the pandemic and many companies and people having needed to adapt to this way of working.
Company values have never been more important than what they are now, ensuring that you have the right people on the team that you do not require to macro or micromanage but to rather ‘co-manage’ the situation together to ensure success.
M7: What do you believe are the top three product marketing challenges in the post COVID-19 era?
KM: 1) Cutting through the noise: Brands, in general, are going to need to step up and be seen to be leading the conversations in order to be heard among the volume of noise from all other brands competing for a massively reduced piece of the market that will arise as a result of an almost unavoidable world recession and economic downfall. My philosophy is, if you do something bad or exceptional people will pay attention, but doing something good won’t get you any. This is even more prominent in a time where the market is saturated with messages predominantly on digital channels. It doesn’t require an out-of-the-box strategy but more a getting rid of the box completely mentality.
2) Building relationships in a digital landscape: As traditional as it is and we have heard it many times before especially from our sales teams ‘Nothing beats face-to-face’. I must agree! Coming from an events background I am a huge advocate in the use of them in my marketing mix and have witnessed many success stories from them for a number of companies. COVID-19 has naturally pushed any face-to-face interaction into a virtual environment and subsequently has left marketing with predominantly only one medium and that is digital. Finding ways to add value and create those connections with clients, and even more so, prospects that might not have had the face-to-face interaction should be at the center of the marketing strategy. I of course believe web events have their place in this, but they should not be the primary method. As I mentioned above, cutting through the noise is crucial and there are plenty of web events on the go at the moment.
3) Digital transformation and adoption: Referring to my earlier comment, COVID-19 has vastly fast-tracked the world into a digital era. Ensuring the business is digitally transformed is critical to achieving success especially in the sales and marketing departments. Acquiring new systems and implementing them at speed can be done relatively smoothly with the help of the right partners. The challenge will lie in the adoption of these systems by the wider business, especially in companies that have been more traditional in nature. Championing the change, training and supporting the late adopters through the business will be an internal marketing task on its own but a very important one.
M7: With many people working from home, leaders are starting to experience a drop in people's motivation at work. How can smart managers effectively lead and motivate newly remote teams post COVID-19?
KM: I wrote a piece towards the middle of last year on ‘innovating leadership – changing business structures and mindsets that fit the new world to ensure long term successes.’
Adaptation to the ‘new normal’ is taking place in all areas of life. There are many physical changes being made to accommodate this and ensure ongoing success and most important safety. All these changes have a benefit not only on the physical but also the psychological wellbeing of an individual. As humans when we feel safe in an environment, we are happier and more focused.
However, there is an anomaly. Many have focused on getting the structural situation innovated and in place to support the physical well-being of employees. This raises emotions of feeling safe, having a psychologically positive effect, BUT have neglected to innovate their long-term leader behavior objectives which will be required to sustain all the structural good that has been done. This will be required to keep supporting the mental wellbeing of their teams long term in the new structural situation.
Micromanagement, although still practiced by many, is truly an outdated management style that has proven to reap very little if anything. Most leaders today pride themselves on having adopted the ‘macro management’ style of leadership – a hands-off approach to managing a team with minimal supervision. The truth is, both these styles are outdated. Our ‘new norm’ requires a very different type of leadership. Company values have never been more important than what they are now, ensuring that you have the right people on the team that you do not require to macro or micromanage but to rather ‘co-manage’ the situation together to ensure success.
Today’s managers are going to be required to be a little bit psychologist, a little bit big sister/brother, coach, colleague, best friend, mom or dad. There are several emotional challenges to consider in a time that is rather ‘unusual’ to say the least. Being too far removed (macro-management) or to enlist fear (micromanagement) will only create an unsafe environment leaving employees exhausted, undervalued and unmotivated in a time where emotions are already high.