My Marketing Director is Leaving, Now What?
It’s natural to feel disappointed when your marketing leader decides to leave your organization. However, the situation could quickly go from bad to worse if too much time passes before you have a plan in place.
Read on for a list of considerations and steps you can take to make sure you don’t miss a beat (and don’t forget to check out our helpful transition checklist).
Hopefully, your marketing director has offered at least two weeks’ notice. The next step is yours. How should you make the best use of the time remaining?
The Marketing Director Exit Interview
First, seek to understand why your marketing director is leaving. Once the sting wears off, it behooves you to gather valuable feedback on what might have gone sideways. If the situation lends itself to a constructive and non-confrontational conversation, you might consider asking:
- What led you to decide to leave the company?
- What did you enjoy most about working for our team/department?
- What did you like least about working for our team/department?
- Did you feel that you had the support and resources you needed?
- Do you have any suggestions for ways that I could improve the team/department work environment?
- Was there anything about your job or the culture that was particularly challenging or frustrating?
- Do you have any feedback or suggestions for me?
- Do you have any other comments or observations you would like to share?
- Are there any changes you recommend I make in the department before we look for another marketing director?
If appropriate (and the marketing director is leaving on good terms), consider asking your soon-to-be former marketing director if she knows any candidates to recommend for the position. This will give you a headstart on searching for a suitable replacement.
Next, you’ll need to inform all relevant stakeholders that your marketing director is leaving. You’ll want to ensure that your leadership and HR team are aware before you notify any employees, clients, or vendors. Eventually, you will need to forward incoming emails and/or create an out-of-office reply to re-route communications to the appropriate person.
Developing a Marketing Transition Plan
Once you’ve taken these preliminary steps, it’s time to assess the impact of the marketing director’s departure. This is where a transition plan comes in handy. You’ll need to create a plan to handle the marketing director’s responsibilities in the short term and understand what long-term projects are in motion.
While the marketing director is still employed, you’ll want to work together to ensure that files are organized to help the team now and the successor later. It’s also a best practice to mutually agree on the deliverables they’ll work on in the short time they have left to set you up for success in their absence. Examples include campaign planning, content development, contracts, and other projects.
Your transition plan document should collect the following:
- A list of the marketing director’s regular duties and day-to-day tasks
- Weekly/monthly/quarterly responsibilities
- Status of major initiatives
- Current Trade Show Plan
- Annual Media Plan
- Annual / Quarterly Campaign Schedule
- Status of KPIs
- Progress against budget, budget details, and location of budget
- Current contracts and location of contracts
- Contact lists and vendor information
If you don’t have one, feel free to use this transition plan template and share it with your outgoing marketing director to set the stage for a productive conversation to gather information and commitments.
Once you have this outline, you’ll need to identify which tasks must continue without interruption and which can wait until you have a new resource in the department. You’ll need to assess the team’s bandwidth to assign the new duties appropriately, or it may be time to find an agency partner who can fill in the gaps permanently or for the short term. You’ll also want to review and update marketing processes and systems to re-route tasks and automated emails as needed.
After getting a handle on the immediate concerns, set aside time to consider whether any changes need to be made to the open role, team, or department. This is especially important if your marketing director has been with your company for a long time. It’s a good practice to look at your top-level business objectives and consider what it will take to meet them. Does your current structure support what’s expected of your team? Do you need any different skill sets? Now is the best time to do a careful assessment and make changes to the job description or organizational structure to set your company up for success.
Get Started: Download our Free Transition Plan Template
Keeping Team Morale High
Throughout this process, it’s essential to keep in mind that your team is watching closely. A teammate’s departure can disrupt the team’s morale. That’s why, regardless of the circumstances surrounding your marketing director’s departure, it’s important for you to take the high road. Be sure to privately and publicly thank your marketing director for their service and wish them well. You can take it a step further and bring it up during your 1:1s with other team members to ask them how it impacts them and whether they have any reservations about how the additional workload is being handled or assigned.
Options for Continuity
During a transition, a beneficial aspect of having an agency involved with your marketing team is the added capacity, flexibility, and understanding they bring to assist with your processes and objectives. In addition, as you’re picking up the pieces that come with an employee’s departure, your agency partner can offer the ability to fill in the gaps, whether that’s as a fractional CMO driving your marketing strategy while managing, growing, and mentoring your company’s marketing team, or for additional support in areas as needed.
You may also consider employing your agency partner to write the job description and screen candidates (there’s no one more informed of today’s essential marketing skill sets than an agency). That could save you valuable time and improve the outcome.
It’s never easy to see an integral part of your marketing team leave, but if you take the opportunity to take stock and take measures that create resilience and re-align your department with your objectives, then your marketing department will continue to be an integral part of your company’s success.
Need Interim or Long-term Agency Support? Look No Further.
If you need an agency to step in to provide immediate attention, Virago can help. Our team is made up of industry insiders, which means that we spend less time on research and discovery and head straight to problem-solving—delivering you advanced strategies and roadmaps, not beginner’s mistakes.
Schedule a call to talk through the pieces you have in motion and chart a path towards future success.