Since the turn of the year I’ve been working in a new role, having flipped from running my own marketing consultancy to being the Marketing Director at a SaaS startup (Administrate). It’s been a huge challenge, which is why I made the change, and of course, there have been things I’ve struggled with…
Fighting the struggle
When you start a new job, you want everyone around you to think that you’ve got everything nailed from day one. You swan in, make some changes, implement some new activity, crack open a beer and win. Sound familiar? Probably not, and if it does, you’re either a liar, or actually awesome.
That desire to appear like a god among mere mortals can be dangerous, and this is something I’ve found in the past couple of months.
I’m about to admit to something that will make many people shudder. I hate numbers. I don’t get on well with them at all. That may sound crazy coming from a marketer, however, it’s the truth. Maths freaks me out. Working in a SaaS environment demands that you can a) identify and gather all of the data b) understand it c) communicate that understanding to others.
While I’ve just said that I have a severe distaste for numbers, I can actually disseminate them and draw conclusions and take action on them. However, only when I break them down in my own fashion — the output of that can be a tad bewildering to anyone not called ‘Mike McGrail’.
For about six weeks I struggled on, trying to find the right data, break it down, learn from it and then communicate to the c-suite what it all meant. It wasn’t working as I couldn’t break out of my way of doing things.
Enough was enough…
When I hit the wall and no solution was forthcoming, I did something simple. I asked for help. Is asking for help really that simple though? Earlier in this post I mentioned that you want to appear like the best thing since sliced bread. Putting your hand up and proclaiming you require assistance somewhat puts paid to that impression.
Actually, no it doesn’t
Not asking for help is a huge mistake. Struggling on and not tapping into the support and knowledge around you is in the realm of ridiculous. It does more damage than good. Unless your team mates are complete self-serving arseholes, there’s every chance people will be more than happy to help, after-all, the outcome of that aid is likely to help the business as a whole.
Not seeking help makes you look like a fool
Not cool. I didn’t want to appear like I didn’t know it all. I didn’t want to look vulnerable (have you read the Advantage by Patrick Lencioni?). I actually felt a little bit scared of asking. That wasn’t a reflection on the people I’d have to ask, but on me not being able to man-up and just frigging ask. There was another blocker to me waving the help flag and that was the fact that for the previous four years, I’d worked alone; in the majority of cases I had nobody to turn to. No excuse, but old habits die hard!
Refreshing and beneficial
As soon as I’d admitted I needed help and had worked out a solution with my CEO, John Peebles, it felt amazing (other great team-mates have helped too, thanks!). Now we all understand the numbers and I have a model for reporting them that is easily communicated. That metrics foundation has led the marketing team and I to making some really strong improvements on the flow of quality leads to the sales team. Win.
I’ll never hold back on asking for help again, or communicating my own weaknesses!