Have you ever worked under one of those bosses who was personable, convincing, enthusiastic, and, given a target, would chase it? A 20% increase in an email marketing list? Off they’d go, like a rat on a rocket down a drain, everything ignored except that figure.
Their management tactics would have begun with setting targets. Then came the ‘getting everyone on board’, with the implied threat of terrible things if you were not a team player. Challenge a decision or, worse still, point out that it conflicted with another department’s remit, and you’d be levered aside. You had to avoid submitting a well-researched initiative at all costs.
Management by objectives is a repeating fashion. Its main attractions are that it is easy to set up, easy to measure, and if you fail to achieve the target, you will have the same target again but have to work harder at it.
It comes with baggage. Teams become focused on the target and ignore everything else. In email marketing especially, by focusing on individual metrics, such as click-through rates, others tend to be ignored and there are knock-on effects. If the unsubscribe rate goes up, then that’s someone else’s problem. Importantly for us, it’s a short-term solution, with problems to come later.
Targets for a particular metric misses the point of them. They are there for comparison purposes; not against your competitor, but in comparison to an initiative. Management by objective is about control, but you should be encouraging creative thought. Someone suggests ‘A’ might improve matters. If you try it in a split test, you will know.
Email marketing is all about experiment, coming up with possibilities, even off the wall ones: Management by objectives is limitation. All the control you need is exercised by the returns to a split test. If an initiative doesn’t work then try something else. Try something different.
Allow your staff the ability to be wrong. Limit them, and you limit your returns. Encourage them to be inventive and creative. It might seem risky, but you are merely doing what the creator of the last brilliant email marketing revolution did.