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Why Someone You Manage will Eventually be Your Boss

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Success in the marketing research industry today isn’t about methodology. It’s about people. And today’s emerging leaders are tech savvy, forward-thinking and looking for opportunities to carve out their own niche.

AskingCanadians Vice President Raj Manocha shares his perspective on the impact of ttoday's emerging leaders in "Why Someone You Manage will Eventually Be Your Boss" in the April issue of Vue magazine.

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Why Someone You Manage will Eventually be Your Boss

  1. 1. 10 vue | APRIL 2014 Success in the marketing research industry today isn’t about methodology. It’s about people. And today’s emerging leaders are tech savvy, forward-thinking and looking for opportunities to carve out their own niche. But today’s emerging leaders won’t be lying in wait forever. Look around you: someone you manage right now could become your boss someday. And soon. One constant in the world of marketing research is the fact that the industry is loaded with talented individuals, particularly at the intermediate level. I define this group as emerging leaders: those who have been in the industry for five to ten years, in their late twenties or early thirties, and with enough experience to know what works and what doesn’t. This group is significant in that they do a lot of the “heavy lifting” for the medium and large shops in the industry. Consider that these individuals are controlling the day-to- day on client relationships, executing the actual research/data collection initiatives and are becoming part of more and more strategic business objectives. What’s different today, versus 10 to 20 years ago, is that these emerging leaders have more opportunities to disrupt the industry and carve out their own niches. While the industry used to be separated into two classic disciplines — qualitative and quantitative — marketing research has become inundated with a new category: technologies and products. Communities, dashboards, crowdsourcing modules and social listening are all examples of products that have been produced to take advantage of the ability to listen to people in very new and innovative ways. What’s more, these technologies and products are not necessarily built around a sound methodology, but are used to understand people in the places and ways that make sense for them. So how does this relate to emerging leaders? This group is more prone to take a chance on these types of technologies. They are the ones Why Someone You Manage Will Eventually be Your Boss Raj Manocha
  2. 2. vue | APRIL 2014 11 living and breathing technology on a day-to-day basis and they’re the ones who can figure out how to fit a methodology into one of these tools instead of trying to fit the tool into the methodology. They don’t want to be pigeonholed by a certain discipline or methodology. And, more importantly, they are the ones who can sell the idea to clients and get buy-in. Don’t fool yourselves – clients want these tools. More and more brands today are allocating an innovation agenda for their research practice. They want to test and try. They want to work with research companies that are willing to experiment. If you aren’t selling these ideas to them, someone else will. And there’s a good chance it will be someone from the emerging leaders category. The other real opportunity for emerging leaders is the ability to move around or start up a new company. More than ever, there is choice. The ability to move from one shop to another is at an all-time high. In the crowded marketing research industry, talented individuals are coveted. Loyalty to one company may last for three to five years, if you’re lucky, and that’s if you’re a great employer. The great companies are investing in these individuals and giving them much greater responsibility, while the merely good companies are letting these individuals do the same things over and over again. Let’s be honest, the success of a great company isn’t about the methodology, the process or the technology, it’s really about the people and the talent. Nothing you produce can be great without great talent. Many companies don’t even know the type of talent they have in house. Emerging leaders are often boxed into one job. But their generation is full of people who have a “jack-of-all- trades” skill set. Do you even know if some of your staff are social media junkies who could pick up social listening really quickly? Or maybe they are part of a brand community and really understand the ins and outs of how they work. You’d be surprised what emerging leaders are capable of if you took the time to invest, nurture and grow this group in your organization. If not, you run the risk that they’ll leave for another company or start their own shop. Creating a start-up or launching a product has never been easier and the barriers to entry have never been smaller. The idea of research has changed. Methodology and rigour don’t necessarily dictate why a company chooses to use your services. Companies are looking for products and services that speak to respondents in ways they never could before. Research and marketing initiatives like crowdsourcing and communities have altered the mindset of clients. Creating these types of tools and products allows start-ups to create a niche that many of the larger shops just want to enter without seeing success. It allows emerging leaders to try and be first to market while the larger shops employ a wait-see-acquire approach. In addition to the advent of new marketing research shops, our industry continues to see the acquisition of companies as a major play in gaining a larger market share, especially in the innovation space. I’ve personally seen two examples of employees who left large shops only to be brought back, through acquisition, and then end up managing colleagues who were previously their managers. As the market continues to mature in the innovation realm, it stands to reason that more of these scenarios could occur. Would these two examples have turned out differently if the companies had invested more heavily in those individuals? Maybe. Maybe the employees could have shared their innovative ideas and created a core competency in-house, instead of moving on and triggering an expensive endeavour for their employers. It’s a much more cost-effective exercise to invest in your staff and retain them, instead of replacing them and potentially having to add/replace a core competency through acquisition. The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association believes this group of emerging leaders has a great deal of untapped value and has created a special task force to look into engaging them on a greater level. The Emerging Leaders Task Force (ELTF) was created to stimulate participation by next generation market researchers in the MRIA and develop programming that will be specifically aligned with their needs. While emerging leaders seem to be very involved in the day-to-day of the industry, it was becoming more apparent that the MRIA needs more participation from next-generation market researchers, especially since these individuals will be the future leaders of many organizations. Simply attend an MRIA event and chances are you’ll see many of the same faces who have been involved in the MRIA for years. Initially, the task force will liaise between the Research Agency Council and the Conference Committee to recommend programming and events for the 2014 National Conference in Saskatoon that will encourage more next-generation marketing researchers to attend the conference. As well, the task force will work towards a more holistic plan to engage next-generation marketing researchers via other channels with the hope of increasing interest and overall membership in the MRIA, as the future of the association lies with emerging leaders. So, keeping an open mind, and thinking about where the world is and where it’s going, open up your mind to the fact that one of your emerging leaders could be managing you some day. I hope you’re getting up out of your seat right now and making your way over to ask them what direction they think the company should be going in. Raj Manocha is vice-president of AskingCanadians, an online marketing research community with access to 600,000 Canadians. He is the current chair of the MRIA’s Emerging Leaders Task Force and is an advocate for giving next generation of marketing researchers a voice within the industry. He can be reached at rmanocha@askingcanadians.com. FEATURE