Posted by Paladin on May 02, 2018
Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War made a mind-boggling $641 million dollars in its opening weekend. For the uninitiated, the movie pits “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” against Thanos, the monomaniacal “Mad Titan,” dedicated to bringing balance to the cosmos through the acquisition of the six fabled Infinity Stones. Each stone embodies a different aspect of the universe: reality, space, time, power, mind and soul. They grant their possessor the ability to manipulate each facet of existence. If you wield all the stones? You’re unstoppable. You needn’t be an intergalactic tyrant to appreciate the stones’ qualities. There are even positive lessons on how to manage a marketing team.
The Reality Stone: Facing the Facts
It’s often said that perception is reality. From a marketing perspective, there is some truth in this, but objective facts related to market forces, budgets and competition remain stubborn things. Our own personal biases can cloud our judgement and apply a subtle filter on the facts that get through to us and inform our decisions. The ability to step back from any situation and assess it coolly and objectively is a crucial skill for a manager to have. Knowing the facts as they are rather than what we want them to be is the first step in planning and implementing tactics to achieve strategic goals among a diverse set of marketing and creative professionals.
The Space Stone: Habitable Zones for Workers
The Earth rotates roughly 93 million miles away from the Sun. The orbit is within a “habitable zone” allowing life to flourish. Too close to the Sun, and we’re toast. Too far away, and we’ll succumb to the icy coldness of space. It’s similar for employees. If you are an overbearing micromanager, you will discourage your team and stifle productivity. Likewise, if you project indifference and detachment from their concerns, you will foster apathy in the ranks. Preserve some professional distance but as far as you can, cultivate a warm and genuine collegiality among yourself and your employees; an “open door” policy of some sort. You want their creative lives to flourish and grow.
The Time Stone: Be Flexible
Putting a higher priority on precise punctuality (i.e. a “punch clock mentality”) over actual productivity is no way to motivate a workforce. Demanding they be at their desks at exact times if their roles don’t call for it is needlessly restrictive and onerous. Give your employees the freedom to work from home when “life happens.”Allow sick employees to stay home to prevent diseases from spreading among coworkers while also keeping contagious but otherwise capable workers productive. Cutting out the commute gives workers more hours in the day to get tasks done.
Of course, this does not mean you can’t demand that hard deadlines be met or campaigns keep to a regular schedule. Just allow for as much personal autonomy as possible. Each worker is unique, and roles vary. Some may want to come in early, so they can leave early. Others may rather stay late and are more productive when everyone else has left for the day. Digital producers and front-end developers may have to pull all-night coding sessions, but then may need a half-day to relax. As long as the job is done effectively and efficiently, workers leaving at early shouldn’t be an issue. Giving your employees the ability to strike a work-life balance will breed loyalty and goodwill.
The Power Stone: Consistency over Caprice
Our culture prizes individualism. We have an innate allergy to the imposition of arbitrary power from above. Closed, hierarchical structures in business have given way to flatter, more open and egalitarian organizational arrangements. Collaboration is favored over commands. Power has been diffused downward in organizations. However, as we know, “with great power, comes great responsibility.” And when workers misuse this power, managers and supervisors and seniors must act and even reprimand if necessary while ensuring discipline remain intact. But, pulling rank (“because I said so”) is a flimsy, condescending and ultimately doomed means of getting the most out of your employees. Managers must set fair and reasonable expectations for workers and teams from the outset. And they must demonstrate that they are not above or beyond these standards. This sense of fairness creates corporate cohesion that allows for workers to enthusiastically labor together, not as cogs in a machine but as contributing, valued members of a team.
The Mind Stone: Destress So You Can Find Success
Business circles bandy about “mindfulness” as the buzzword akin to “synergy.” Stripped of the buzzword-y baggage, mindfulness can positively mean taking at least 10 minutes a day to disconnect from all the alerts, notifications, emails, tweets and tasks to meditate, relax, decompress and re-center yourself emotionally and mentally so you make decisions logically rather than emotively. Mindfulness fosters proactive rather than reactive thoughts, words and actions. Also, be a lifelong learner. Read widely and don’t restrict yourself from professional journals, magazines and blogs (yes, even this one). Reading different books, particularly fiction, is like having a diverse and well-balanced diet for your brain. We are story-telling creations. We internalize life lessons better if delivered via dramatic narrative.
The Soul Stone: Not Worth Losing Even If It Means Gaining the Whole World
[Very indirect potential spoiler] Some would say Thanos’ pursuit of this stone in particular was the point of no return; the moment when he went from misguided crusader to truly malevolent monster. His single-minded ambition overcame any basic humanity. We can condemn his actions, but what moral shortcuts would we take or have we taken in pursuit of our own goals? Making our numbers and meeting our quotas are fine goals and we should strive to meet and surpass them. However, if achieving such goals would cost us those things more precious than professional success and public recognition, such as our family, friends and ethical integrity, then we have not only failed as organizations and managers but as citizens and people.
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