I have the chance to spend time shadowing the marketing department, but will it benefit me?

Try to understand where this opportunity has come from and what you are expected to bring to the role. Many organisations will try to move managers between functions so they are able to understand a wider range of aspects of the business and can contribute to any debate from a balanced point of view.

It also ensures that managers don’t get stuck in a rut because they are moved on to other business functions before they become stale. Other organizations may have a specific task that they want you to do in the function they are moving you to. Perhaps you have developed a reputation for problem solving that the organisation believes can be effectively applied in a new setting. Your senior management team may be expecting you to provide a solution to problems that they have identified in the other department.

Try to understand if this is a routine posting or a problem-solving activity. If the latter, you need to understand management’s perception of the problem. At least then you start off with an objective to accomplish – even if your investigation results in a different problem definition and hence solution. There are many synergies between quality and marketing. Marketing is more than advertising and sales.

At its heart is capturing customer requirements and incorporating these into the design and delivery of products and services with the overall objective of providing customer satisfaction. So far it looks as if those of us in quality and marketing are occupying the same ground! Where the quality professional can generally add value is using our experience of the process approach.

We can ensure the inputs to the marketing process are valid and based on sound market research and that the process is managed from end to end to ensure objectives have been achieved. We can incorporate any lessons learned back into the organisation’s body of knowledge for future marketing activities. A role in unfamiliar surroundings brings a new set of challenges. How you tackle them will depend on the brief you have been given.

If you are perceived as having been parachuted in to fight fires there may be some initial problems with people in the department and it will be a good test of your interpersonal skills. Get to know the people, how the function operates and its key processes before you start to suggest any changes. Leaping to conclusions in this or any other area is a sure-fire way to lose credibility. Whatever happens, you have an opportunity to learn more about marketing and your own organisation – enjoy it!


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