How to Evaluate Your Marketing Team

by | Marketing Leadership, Marketing Organization

professional services Marketing Team

In my last post, How to Evaluate Your Marketing Leader, I laid out a rubric for managing partners to assess the performance of their marketing leaders. My approach delineated between my two schools of marketing thought in the professional services world–the Productivity School and the Growth School. This week, I want to provide similar guidance to Marketing Leaders on how to evaluate your marketing team.

First a little vetting.

When I became a people manager in my twenties, I had the leadership competence of a two-year-old. I was self-absorbed, short-sighted, and arrogant. I had no good managers as role models and I had to fumble my way through. As I progressed in my career, I was blessed with some incredible managers who shared the “secrets” that made them great leaders. They recognized my potential, helped me manage my shortcomings, and developed me as a leader. They taught me to enable others’ success by giving me clear vision, setting high expectations, letting me fail and learn, holding me accountable, and believing in me every day.  I am forever grateful.

But, as a result of their approach, I’ve come to disdain annual reviews common in so many other firms. I see them as nothing more than a time-sucking, regulatory formality to justify HR’s existence, rationalize straight-forward people decisions, and compensate for incompetent managers not leading their people day-to-day.

Don’t fall into this trap. Be a leader.

LISTEN: 11 Characteristics of Exceptional Marketing Leaders 

How Marketing Leaders Should Evaluate the Performance of Their Marketing Teams


Use the exact same questions I recommended to managing partners. After all, your KPIs should cascade through you to your team. Their success is your success. Don’t change a single question and evaluate each with the same curiosity and intensity as your boss hopefully assessed you.

Use the appropriate evaluation questions. If you are a Productivity School firm, use the Productivity School questions. If you are in the Growth School use the Growth School questions. Mixing evaluation questions and schools leads to a managerial disaster and a disengaged team. If the team is not expected to deliver strategic impact, does not have the internal culture/support required to achieve it, does not have the KPIs or skills to deliver it, and will not be rewarded for it, they should not be measured against it. Use the appropriate questions.

RELATED: Aligning Marketing Goals with Your Partners’ Goals

Have the proper evaluation mindset. If you are in a Productivity School firm, make sure you have a Productivity School mindset— Growth School firm, Growth School mindset. Life is too short to spend every day raging against the machine. Your job is to deliver a clear vision to your team. If there is a misalignment between your view of Marketing and your firm’s, it will ooze out of you and taint your team. Leave your firm as soon as possible for one who shares your perception and values. Everyone will be much happier.

To take advantage of my approach, make the questions your own. Exploit your strengths and fold in your personality. My strengths as a manager were my ability to teach, to connect one on one, and to glean great satisfaction from watching my teammates realize their potential. You will be much more effective and your people will appreciate what you are doing for them.

Finally, there should NEVER, NEVER, NEVER be a surprise revelation about performance presented to a direct report in an annual review. If there is, YOU have NOT done your job as a manager throughout the year. If there is a performance problem, it should be addressed in the moment, not at the end of the year.



As a professional services Marketing leader, you may be reporting to someone who neither understands Marketing nor is a great role model. Nonetheless, it’s your job to provide both to your team.

Your goal as a Marketing leader is to have your team be the BEST representation of your Marketing School of Thought. Measure your team against the best firms AND, more importantly, how each team member is improving compared to the day before.

If you are a Productivity School firm, then your focus is on being the most efficient service deliverer (better, faster, cheaper) for your partners’ requests. Think Ritz Carlton, Southwest Airlines, or London’s Underground subway. Keep the trains clean and running on time. If you are a Growth School firm, your focus is on anticipation and staying ahead of the industry through deeper client understanding, innovation, thought leadership, reinvention. Think Amazon, Tesla, Apple, Google. Break some eggs and cook that omelet.


Be prudent.


About the Author

Jeff McKay
Founder & CEO
Prudent Pedal

As a strategist and fractional CMO, Jeff helps firms set smart growth strategies in motion. He was the SVP of Marketing at Genworth Financial, the Global Marketing Leader at Hewitt Associates, and held senior roles at Towers Perrin and Andersen. Learn more.

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