‘Collaboration drag’ puts CMOs on the road to burn-out

angry laptopThe vast majority (84%) of marketing chiefs are being stifled by too many meetings, too much feedback from colleagues and unclear decision-making authority when working cross-functionally, leading to so-called “collaboration drag” which can have a major effect on effectiveness.

So says a new Gartner survey, which quizzed 329 marketing leaders and 78 leaders from other functions between July and August of 2023 and also found that organisations with high levels of collaboration drag are more than a third (37%) less likely to achieve their revenue goals.

During a presentation at the Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo in London, Kristina La-Rocca Cerrone, senior director, advisory, in the Gartner Marketing Practice, explored how CMOs are under pressure to drive cross-functional collaboration, often at the expense of marketing’s priorities.

She explained: “Marketing leaders are under pressure to work on an ever-growing number of cross-functional projects. Collaboration drag leads to an overall sense of frustration within the marketing function, creating unnecessary extra work and leading to employee burnout. But it’s not just employees it harms: it’s also hurting commercial performance.”

Marketing employees who experience high collaboration drag are 15 times more likely to feel burned out and nine times more likely to plan to leave the company in the next year.

By investing in and developing marketing talent, CMOs can reduce collaboration drag by nearly a quarter (23%), the report claims. CMOs should prioritise developing their teams’ interpersonal influence, critical thinking, technical skills, and using on-the-job learning programs to unlock practical mastery.

LaRocca-Cerrone added: “Resolving collaboration drag by improving executive alignment won’t work, because changes at the leadership level don’t impact how work gets done at the team level.

“Developing marketing talent will help marketers build the skills they need to thrive in complex decision-making environments.CMOs must focus in on specific skills and create learning environments that cement new skills and encourage development.”

CMOs should also improve marketing workflows and change management to ease the burden on their teams. Marketing leaders should clarify where the team’s responsibilities for certain projects start and end, empower their team to say “no” to low-priority collaborative work and prioritise their team’s participation in areas where marketing can drive the greatest impact.

LaRocca-Cerrone concluded: “Collaboration drag cannot be solved by changing how other functions work. Developing marketing’s talent and processes will equip the function to thrive in inherently difficult cross-functional environments.”

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