5 soul-deflating phrases marketers say that spell productivity doom

January 9, 2014 Nezzy

By Bryan Nielsen, Chief Marketing Officer for Workfront. Originally published in Business2Community.com on September 22, 2013

There is a long list of clichés that people use in the business world, especially in marketing and creative industries. “We’re ramping up.” “It’s a win-win.” “Optimizing ideation synergy.” Yes, they are annoying. No, they aren’t going anywhere.

But there are things we hear often that we can do something about. There are common phrases people use that slow work down and spell doom for productivity. Here are five sayings and some tips to help you avoid sighing audibly the next time you hear them:

“Let me email that to you again so it’s at the top of the list.” Email has gone from being a miracle of technology to one of the most overused yet unproductive ways to manage work. When you hear this it’s a sign that your team needs a better way to handle requests. After all, according to author Jonathan Spira, 100 email messages can occupy over half of a person’s day, so reduce the personal inbox clutter by designating one place to accept and manage requests, such as one dedicated requests@company.com email address or marketing work management solution, then deny requests that skirt the system.

Five Soul Deflating Phrases Marketers Say That Spell Productivity Doom image Workfront Rock Sep.20.13 300x228

Illustration courtesy of Workfront

“It’s 80% done.” This is usually a sign that no one knows the status of the deliverable, sometimes not even the person working on it. It means there’s no way to see into the project or know if things are really moving forward. Avoid this by creating a communication plan template that’s used when a new project or campaign is kicked off. According to PMI, fifty-five percent of project managers agree that effective communication is the most critical success factor for project work. Establish expectations of when updates will be needed, what will be in them, and who is running which part of the work. Doing this reduces the disparate email chains, deleted voicemails, and frantic drive-by cubicle conversations.

“Final_v19” or “Final-final.” Revisions and rework are a necessary part of marketing work, but when you start seeing this at the end of your documents, it means your approval process is broken. Solve this by identifying who will be approving at each stage right from the beginning—from creative brief to production to launch. Make sure each approver is aware of their role in the process and knows the steps that need to be taken and who to notify. Be sure to define what “done” looks like. Defining done, including standard file names and dedicated locations for final versions, will help eliminate having 10 “final” versions of a marketing asset.

“Just trying to keep my head above water.” Also heard as “Things have been pretty crazy over here.” This means a few things. Either they forgot your request or were interrupted too often to make any real progress. Research has found that once interrupted, it takes workers 25 minutes to return to their original task, if they return at all. So how do you solve the interruption issue? One tip is to set personal, team and/or department-wide “do not disturb” hours and help embed it into the culture. You can also limit interruptions by using a single cloud-based marketing work management solution that acts as a holistic work hub. When people come up for air, they know where to look for everything they need to keep things flowing.

“I need [this thing I just told you about] by the end of the day.” Ye olde fire drill. “Putting out fires” is usually a sign of poor prioritization. It happens when deadlines are missed, balls are dropped, or someone—often an executive—had an impulse that it was super important. Be sure to align priorities around your company’s strategic objectives. This weeds out work for work’s sake and gives your team empowerment to say “no” to overbearing stakeholders. Help people understand the tradeoff of working on something else or pushing a deadline out. When you can show the business case and potential ROI for your work, it’s hard for people to argue with.

By taking a step back and analyzing the work processes you engage in each day, you will see that most people say these things because the way we work is broken. Implement these tips, and you will cut down on the clichés and boost the productivity of your marketing team.

Click to learn more about how Workfront helps eradicate these phrases from your vocabulary


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