6 Components of a High Performing Ad Ops Team
by Matt Peck, on Mar 4, 2021 11:21:37 AM
Matt Peck has been working in Ad Tech for over 8 years, with roles ranging from Media Ops to Ad Ops team management at companies like AOL, Oath and Millennial Media. He spent much of those 8 years focused specifically on leading, managing, and growing thriving account management teams.
You can often walk into a room and tell, right away, if a team is a high-performance team or not. It's a “vibe” you can pick up almost immediately upon just watching them work together.
There are plenty of little details that can add up to a team that functions exceptionally well, but it can sometimes be hard to isolate exactly what makes them so high performing.
In Ad Ops it usually comes down to a few key indicators that are present in nearly every high-performing team I’ve been exposed to. And getting the most from your team is a key element of building a successful ad ops strategy.
This article breaks down the major hallmarks of high-performing teams and seeks to put some definition around what makes them so great.
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The first hallmark of a high-performing Ad Ops team centers on communication. Everything starts and ends with great communication between team members.
Communication must be incredible across all levels, from down in the nitty-gritty details up to the high-level strategy. One misstep in communication from the strategic level down to the details means a team isn’t all rowing in the same direction. Missteps on the details lead to balls getting dropped and clients getting underserved.
The highest performing Ad Ops teams have worked together long enough they can foresee what others on the team will say and do before they do it. They understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and have built a communication method that works well for all of them.
Communication skills are the most important aspect of training and selecting new hires. Ad Ops teams that function at the highest level are aware of this and have invested significantly in appropriate training programs.
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The next major indicator of a team that performs on a high level are the relationships within it. Often these are built off the back of great communication.
What it really comes down to is actually liking and enjoying your time working together. When work doesn’t feel like work, and you truly enjoy the people you spend time with, magic happens. One of the best ways to instill this is to make time to build relationships with your team members and encourage them to grow.
Creating mentor and mentee relationships, as we’ve outlined in previous articles, can be the foundation for great relationships. Encourage group activities, and do the cheesy team-building stuff (it exists for a reason).
It might seem silly or superfluous, but having real connections between members of an Ad Ops team is a key indicator of how well they will perform together.
The reason to focus on building those relationships is the level of trust required amongst team members. To be a truly high-performing Ad Ops team, each member of your team needs to feel like every other team member has their back.
The best leaders encourage taking calculated risks and leave space for mistakes to be made. Team members won’t feel secure enough to take those jumps, or to make those mistakes, if they don’t have the trust in the rest of the team to help act as a safety net.
When team members trust that other members have their best interest at heart, and feel that others are available and willing to help them in times of need, they’ll be willing to take a leap and do great things.
Leaders From Within
Yet another key ingredient of a high-performing Ad Ops team are the leaders that emerge from within the team.
I’m not talking about the people you’ve put in management positions (although those are pretty important too). I’m talking about the natural leaders that emerge from within the team. The people that the rest of the team looks up to, not because they have to, but because they’ve earned the team's respect.
Fostering these natural leaders, and working with them (rather than being threatened by them) can do a lot for the rest of the team. Pairing them as mentors in mentor-mentee relationships will only make the rest of your team stronger.
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High Levels of Accountability
All members of a high-performing Ad Ops team will naturally feel accountability, not only for their own individual contributions but also for those of the team as a whole.
High-performing teams will all be very clear on the ultimate goal for the entire team, and be incentivized to prioritize that goal over their individual goals.
When everyone is in it for the team goal, rather than their own needs, the team can do incredible things together.
This shows up in a variety of ways:
- Peer-to-peer management of issues: In high-performing teams, peers will feel comfortable going to each other to solve problems rather than running to managers to complain about each other.
- Seek to understand: When issues arise, team members will first seek to actually understand the problem, rather than immediately jumping to blame.
- Solving problems rather than ignoring them: In high-performing teams, if members recognize an issue they will work to solve it without being asked, rather than just complaining about it.
A Culture of Cooperation
Really, many of the items in this list come right down to culture.
If all of these hallmarks of a high-performance team are woven deeply into the fabric of your culture, it will make a massive difference in the performance of your team.
A culture of “team first,” and continuous reinforcement of that mantra, is key.
You need to ingrain that in everything the team does, from the way your leaders speak, to how your managers manage, down to how your team is incentivized.
Creating a culture that is about cooperation and camaraderie will be the foundation from which you can build the rest of the pieces of a high-performing team.