Even the best consultants will have to deal with challenging clients at some point in their careers, but you want to make sure that before you walk away from an SEO project or client that the source of the problem is not based on contextual factors. If the issues with your client are contextual, then there are many techniques you can apply to recognize it and solve it.
SEO Project Conflict Resolution
Contextual Factors are characteristics of the ecology/environment of an organization that are related to the effectiveness of a collaboration among stakeholders. The four contextual factors most significantly related to team performance:
A Climate of Trust
and a Reward System
Definition: Contextual Factors are characteristics of the environment that are related to the effectiveness of a collaboration.
Bellow is an extended list of methodologies and tools to apply the four contextual factors.
Case Scenario for an SEO team composed of Staff, Client and You
1. ADEQUATE RESOURCES: Work teams rely on several resources inside or outside of the group in order to be effective. If there is a scarcity of resources, this hinders the team’s ability to perform to its maximum potential and to reach the set goals. The adequate resources may include: proper equipment, timely information, and adequate staffing.
Sometimes resources can come in the form of skills, having an individual in the team with vast knowledge on how to set up and run a Digital or SEO project can be by far the most important factor to success and the cure to avoid conflicts with the team or client. For example many Digital Marketing projects begin with “what are your goals?” If no one in the team knows this, then there is a scarcity of skill. Here are 5 examples on how to set up your SEO or Social Media S.M.A.R.T goals.
As a digital marketing manager, you know how much not having the right tools to run your operation can harm the project: keyword research, analytics, CRM systems, or access to the back end of a site. Lacking flexibility to source these tools and tasks can hinder the project’s progress, and if the scarcity is substantial, it can generate an atmosphere of fear, frustration, and hostility within the team and/or the client as well.
Here is a list of resources that can aid to avoid team/ client conflict caused by lack of resources:
- New Client? A Quick Road Map To Get Your SEO and Social Marketing Campaign Started
- Opportunity Analysis- First Step of your SEO Product Plan (download template)
- 5 Examples on How to Set Up Your Social Media Goals with SMART
- Cross Functional SEO Infographic
- Sample of a Marketing Communication’s Objectives – form
- SEO Marketing Mix (Four Ps)
- How To Use SWOT Analysis In Your Online Marketing Plan?
- How To Identify a Milestone For Your SEO Project
- SEO PM Requirements explained: Requirements are not task activities
- Social networks that provide free training and certifications
- Personality Test and Methods for Evaluating Your SEO Team
- Groupthink: a Team Norm That Contaminates Teams
- Management Communications: The Ladder of Interference Creates Bad Judgment
- A Fantastic Video Training on Conflict Resolution by Lynda
- The last resource is to walk away from an unmatched client
It is important to note that many times it is not the resources, but the lack of understanding of them.
For digital or SEO managers, cross-functional tasks go into other department’s silos, and it is part of their job. The clear understanding and acknowledgement of this fact can ease the execution of the Digital or SEO project. SEO processes touches almost every stakeholder in the organization and everyone in the SEO project should understand this from day one of the project initiation. Read more about Cross-Functional SEO to see a flow chart infographic of the SEO process that everyone in the SEO project should know.
2. CLIMATE OF TRUST: Any project can only be executed by people; these people conformed the team. Every member is important and essential to the project’s success, in that no team member can breakout of their duties otherwise the project falls apart. These certainties many may take for granted, believe it or not, it is not always in the realm of the team’s realization or consciousness. In other words, I’m trusting you to do your part, because you are important to this team and if you step away from the goal, the mind and soul of the project, it may crumble. When a team member – and this includes the client– doesn’t trust the direction of the team, difficulties may arise.
How do you win trust by building an Emotional Bank Account
As an SEO manager, the most important thing is to believe in yourself. Build relationships with teams by showing interest, respect, and appreciation for their contribution. Most importantly, listen to others, their opinions and ask open and probing questions. Actively listen, demonstrating that you are actually engaged in the conversation, not just playing lip service. Demonstrate that you are genuine and that people can rely on your promises is the key to gain trust and build the emotional bank account.
3. EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP: A team won’t go the extra mile for a manager or project they don’t believe in. Gaining trust is one of the important keys to good leadership, but keeping your team motivated and well structured is another key to leadership. There are hundreds of studies about this topic and many leadership characteristics and types. As a manager, leadership should not be taken lightly. Having power over a team does not make an individual a leader, neither being an extrovert is the recipe to becoming a good leader, many introverts have shown to be good leaders.
Other managers think that job dissatisfaction is directly correlated to the lack of good leadership, and studies have shown that it is not exactly the case; many times the team or client’s dissatisfaction come from externalities such as emotional problems, loss of a loved one, sickness, economic reasons, family dynamics, market crashes and so on. It is also important to note that the lack of dissatisfaction does not equate to satisfaction. Read my article on what causes job satisfaction. At the end of the day, a great leader is the one who seeks and promotes leadership in others, not within him or herself.
Finding Your Match with Client and Teams
According to Gallup’s latest research, the 34 leadership themes naturally cluster into four domains of leadership strength. The graph below helps you assess who is a better match for you in terms of working with the right client or forming team members with better matches.
The Four Domains of Leadership Strength
The graphic below shows the 34 themes sorted into the four domains of leadership strength.
The Four Domains
Explaining the Four Domains: Executing, Influencing, relationship building and strategic thinking
The Executing leader makes things happen. These type of people are your go-to guys when needing to solve a problem, implement a solution or who transform an idea into reality. The executing leader works effortlessly day and night to make things happen. Steve Jobs could be considered an executing leader; he worked hard and made the team work hard as well until the ideal Macintosh computer became a reality.
Influential leader can become the CEO or top executive or even the president of a country. This type of individual can reach outside the organization or sell a team’s idea very well. They are ideal at influencing change, and they can be excellent sales people as well. Some examples of influential leaders are Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, and more recently Jack Ma, owner of alibaba.com, the world’s largest online business and with higher revenues than Amazon and eBay combined. Fortune magazine calls Mr. Ma brilliant at management who exhorts employees to “think big” and “work for their dreams!”
Relationship leader builds strong collaboration based on relationships. She or he becomes the essential glue that holds a team together. According to CCL, leaders in the workplace are not adept at either relationship building or collaboration. John Baldoni, a leadership communications consultant says,
“These results are not surprising given the state of American management. Our companies crave strong leaders; we tend to value the man who stands up and takes charge. But that model is in flux. One reason for this is the rising influence of women in the workplace; women tend to be more collaborative than men. Another is that it is collaboration that enables innovation, which plays a key role in a company’s ability to stay competitive.”
Baldoni wrote a very poignant peace “Great Leaders Build Off Great Relationships“. A good read – I recommend it.
Strategic leader: These type of leaders are great at running organizational long-term goals or keeping teams’ focused or keeping their direction, aimed at achieving a long-term goal. Strategic leadership skills are needed during times of organizational growth or during tough times. When resources are tight, it is even more important to ensure those resources are focused in the right areas.
4. A REWARD SYSTEM is as important as well as many others motivational methodologies and tactics. If you archive success among your team members or with you client, how do you reward them — in order to keep people motivated?
- Free training
- Free tools
- Innovated ideas
- Giving extra time to listen
- Perks like pens, cups or a mention of your client’s great business on your social media
- Don’t forget that clients with small business startups sometimes need cheering up, so say something nice
- Reward clients for referrals
- Check this list of 10 ways to keep your clients motivated and coming back
- Paid vacation
- Corporate lunches or trips, and so on
- Please read what causes job satisfaction
- Here is a list of 51 Ways to Reward Virtual Employees Without Money
Key Elements of Motivation
Motivation varies both between individuals and within individuals at different times depending on the situation. Motivation is defined as the process that accounts for an individual’s intensity, direction, and persistence of effort toward attaining personal or organizational goals and improving organizational performance.
The key elements of motivation are:
- Intensity: this describes how hard a person tries at the job. Their job effort can be productive and conducive to job performance only if the intensity is channeled in a direction that benefits the organization. It is important to note that intensity can’t translate to quality as well.
- Direction: The effort has to move towards and be consistent with the organization’s goals.
- Persistence: Furthermore, the motivation intensity and effort need to be measured: How long —persistence—can a person maintain the effort?
There is a positive relationship between employee motivation and organizational effectiveness. If an employee is motivated, that employee is more likely to perform and have higher engagement on the job. Managers need to pay attention to what motivates their employees, and use some type of measurement to determine if that motivation is consistent month to month or if there is a decline. This measurement can provide insight when motivation declines and the necessary steps can be taken to correct the lack of motivation or lack of employee engagement.
A study conducted by the European Journal of Business and Management shows a correlation of employee motivation with organizational performance. The research found that some of the stronger factors that lead to motivation are empowerment and job recognition. Therefore, the more employees are motivated to tasks accomplished, the higher the organizational performance is.
Of course, there are other factors that motivate each individual, and each one depends on the individual’s needs, values, beliefs and goals.
Management Communications tip: Understanding how the Ladder of Interference Creates Bad Judgment could also help in in delivering clear communications among the SEO team and project stakeholders.
In conclusion, before you hit the ground and run from that SEO project, make sure that the source of the hostility between you and your client or team is not due to the lack of communication, resources or motivation. If it is, then there is still hope.