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With today’s data and technology capabilities, everything moves faster. Customer engagement can be hyper-optimized with data-driven insights. Revenues can spike quickly if the right tools are used in the right ways. And as companies grow, their teams scale up accordingly. So how can you maintain a strong ethic of teamwork as your team grows in size and responsibility? And how do great leaders unite and motivate their expanding teams?

To help brands meet that challenge, Braze spoke with a panel of experts to get their thoughts on how companies can use effective teamwork to support successful customer engagement. Here are five key takeaways from Carlos Valdes-Dapena of Corporate Collaboration Resources, Dale Sperling, CMO at STASH, and Dara Treseder, CMO at GE Business Innovations.

1. Personalization Takes Teamwork

Just about every brand is looking to leverage data and technology in order to create personalized experiences for their customers. But creating these experiences takes a large mix of skill sets—from the data side to the product side. If these teams aren’t working together, sharing learnings, and pooling resources, brands will struggle to create those personalized experiences customers have come to expect.

“We first can't do anything without the data team,” says Sperling. “Then it's product, it's creative, it's the product marketers, it's the engineers that are giving us all of the functionality and technical ability. But ultimately it's the synchrony of all those teams that really gives us great insight to make a personalized experience where we're ahead of our customer.”

2. Break Down Silos

Different parts of your company naturally take on different identities. However, as groups separate out into the product team, the marketing team, etc., you begin to lose that sense of unity so crucial to effective collaboration. That’s why Treseder and Sperling emphasize how proactive teams must be when it comes to breaking down silos.

“I think it's never been more important to break down silos and ensure that marketing teams are working together,” says Treseder. “The performance marketing team should be in conversation with the brand team, which is in conversation with product marketing. Because I think bringing all of these elements together is really the only way we can surprise and delight our customers.”

3. Unite Around Common Metrics and Goals

Once you’ve broken down silos, how do you create a sense of unity among a large group of people? In short, you need common goals and objectives in place so that your team understands the overarching problems that need to be solved. To crystallize these goals for your team, Sperling says you have to start with the right metrics.

“It’s the KPIs first,” says Sperling. “Making sure every team is aligned with the right KPI and that every team, whether their next success metric is the exact same as the top down, ladders up. And really empowering the teams across all the different disciplines to work together to find that solution and reach that overarching KPI—I think is really powerful.”

4. Be Process-Driven

You have goals in place and you know what you need to do to reach them. Now, you have to ensure your team is sticking to these goals and remaining collaborative along the long and winding road of a product launch. For Treseder’s team at GE, it comes down to focusing on the process.

In describing her team’s process, Treseder mentions their “continue and considers.” These are periodic meetings where the entire group comes together to review the things they should continue doing and raise questions about what they should consider doing.

“Having that meeting at the start, in the middle of the project, and also at the end, really helps us improve that operating rhythm,” says Treseder. “We constantly need to innovate and improve as we go along.”

5. Plan for Chaos

Once you have your goals and process in place, it’s easy to have your entire plan scheduled out to the minute. But inevitably, things change during the duration of a project. New opportunities emerge and new challenges arise every time. Sperling and Treseder both say that teams should “assume chaos”—and keep their plans flexible enough so that you can be prepared to adjust to this chaos.

“I never plan for 100% of my team's time,” says Treseder. “Because something is going to happen. So I typically plan for 80% of my team's time. Like 80% of our resources at max capacity—which means I create 20% for fire drills, chaos. And doing that creates the space to pivot.”

“When an opportunity arises, you want to be flexible, nimble enough,” adds Sperling. “You don't want to be so rigid that you can't take advantage of an opportunity. So everybody needs to own that and accept that flexibility is part of the culture and that's just gonna make the company thrive.”

Final Thoughts

A collaborative and engaging work environment is in reach for teams of all sizes. That said, Valdes-Dapena reminds us that collaboration is not a panacea. Be selective. Collaborate only where there is identifiable benefit, and look for work you can let go of as your process evolves to make space and time for the projects that require team involvement.

If you want to learn more about how your brand can foster a teamwork-driven mentality, check out our article about breaking down silos amid the digital transformation.