Your "leadership brand" is not what you think it is – it is what your employee team members think it is. The question is... "Is your leadership brand what you hope it is?" Chances are it is not and you likely need to do something about it.
Hope is not a strategy unless you have cancer.
I want my leadership brand to reflect me as a passionate human being who is firm, yet compassionate. I am a "granite wall" to those who are loyal. I am demanding yet fair. I do not want to be an asterisk in the long list of bosses. I want to be the one who made a real difference. I want my employee team members to love what they do and the environment they are in.
The bad news is, as good as my intentions are, I often fall short of my goal of being the leader I want to be.
As a management consultant, I have several Customers - who pay our bills and for my employee team members. There have been many times when a paying Client needs something, and I have attempted to juggle my schedule and time to meet their needs. Sometimes people who I care passionately about end up getting the short end of the stick - my employee team members.
I used to assume my employee team members understood. They do not. I have disappointed and hurt people whom I love very much. They deserve better. I thought my "leadership brand" was much better than it really is. It is not.
My integrity is "not for sale," yet I have sold it. One of the most difficult things for me to hear is "Do what you say you will do." This phrase haunts me. This phrase represents the a classic "Catch 22" for me right now and is an area I am working hard to correct by delegating more and also saying, "I cannot get that done in the time you may need."
I am working hard to align expectations with what can be done. I am also doing some soul-searching to align my leadership behaviors to what I really want to become. Following are several elements of my personal strategy to get "back on track" with who I want to be.
Some of the following may serve you...
Most important - Get in alignment with who you intend to be with who you are. I recommend One Piece of Paper by Mike Figliuolo. In a word - powerful. This book can help you get real about your leadership philosophy.
Get vulnerable. Be vulnerable. Be open to how others may perceive you – their version of you – ultimately do not be overly concerned – but be seriously aware – do not change who you are – get open to making changes where you are able to in order to make your difference in the world.
Engage in frequent dialogue and real feedback through our Rainmaker 331 process. Monthly feedback, like the Rainmaker 331 process, between leaders and their team members is a powerful way to improve performance and reach objectives.
Keep the communication channels open. Do not enable / allow those you serve to "shut down" or give up. You and they both lose when they and / or you shut down. Neither of you get to shut down.
Create Behaviors / Values Awareness – How do you perceive the world? How do those you lead? Each employee team member has a unique combination of Behaviors and Values that "filter" how they view the world. Get to know "what makes people tick" on a personal level and make the changes you need to make through praise, tone of voice, feedback, and their perceptions.
Generation / Culture / Gender Awareness - This is a significant area of awareness that takes time. Every human being is shaped by the time or period they grew up in, their culture, gender, and a host of other potential influences. Each of these influences have the potential to impact how an employee team member views you, their work, and their life. Work to understand and respect their unique perspective. For example, millennials will actually work hard if they believe in what they do and have a voice...
Humility is a "cornerstone" of leadership. My personality sometimes has a difficult time with appearing humble. As you know... The stakes are high. There are profound financial rewards to improving how you connect with those you serve. Even more important... There is a profound spiritual opportunity to tap into being a leader who is truly effective.
I have come to realize that aligning my "leadership brand" - how those I serve view me, with who I want to be is a never-ending challenge that is so worth the pursuit - the effort. There is too much at stake to accept mediocrity.
Good people are going to leave you...
If you are doing your job correctly, you have the right people on your team and you have poured your heart and soul into each of your employee team members who are worth keeping.
Perhaps you believe a valued employee team member may be seeking "greener pastures." Perhaps they are leaving because of you... Perhaps they are leaving to further their career in a manner you are unable to provide.
If you have done your job right, you have hired and developed only high caliber talent. True high caliber talent is going to have options. Therefore, it truly is a matter of time until a valued employee team member is sought after, interviewed, and potentially lost to another business.
As much as it stings, every human being deserves the opportunity to better themselves and often times the departing employee is an opportunity to capitalize on.
Following are eleven things you should do when you believe an employee may be seeking career opportunities elsewhere.
- Avoid taking it personally - It is natural to take it personally, but you must do your best to avoid doing so. You could be wrong, you have a job to do and the rest of your team is watching.
- Be honest with the valued employee - If you suspect they are looking for another job - consider engaging them. It will be an awkward conversation. Avoid putting them in a position where they feel they have to mislead you. Even if you are the best-hearted boss, most employees seeking to leave are afraid of the repercussions of crossing you or appearing disloyal. Be realistic.
- Take a serious look in the mirror - What can you and/or could you have done differently? Are you the leader you must be to retain high caliber talent? Keep in mind that while there are always things that could have been done differently, it may make sense to not make any changes.
- Look for the blessing in disguise - Sometimes the departure of a valued employee team member is a blessing. It may be an opportunity to re-align their duties and/or the business model. It may also be the opportunity to remove someone who is not as "bought in" to the business model and/or you. A departing valued employee may be an opportunity to "purify" your culture.
- Always be looking - always have an eye out for quality talent / Proactively replace - You have a business to protect, and you need the talent necessary to do the job well and grow your future. You cannot ever be short-handed. You should always have your eyes wide open seeking high caliber talent. Do not wait until you need to replace someone to look for quality talent. Always be looking.
- Counter offer only the ones you really want to keep - Some valued employee team members are worth fighting for - others may be doing you a favor by departing. Be careful. You do not want to signal to others on the team that the way to a raise / promotion is to threaten to quit.
- Diminish the damage to your Client relationships with the departing employee - If you are particularly confident a valued employee is planning to leave - you may need to diminish the damage they may do. Be careful here because by doing so proactively - you are sending a potential serious signal of disbelief to the team member, which may cause them to leave anyways. Carefully consider reducing the valued employee's exposure to longer-term projects, sensitive Clients, and business strategy.
- Review the needs of the job - Is this an opportunity to re-align the position? Are there duties of the departing employee that could be outsourced or done away with altogether?
- Protect your intellectual property, reputation, and Clients - The valued employee leaves with what they came with. If you suspect otherwise, involve legal counsel to get their undivided attention.
- Always have a succession plan - Good people are going to leave and it is better to have an immediate game plan to implement rather than have a hole in your talent management strategy.
- Make their last days the best possible / the best ever - The valued employee team member may find that life is not better elsewhere and may seek to return once they realize the grass is not greener on the other side.
Good people leave and good talent is worth fighting for. Make sure your valued employee team members know how much you appreciate them.
Most sales teams have some level of what I call “sales dysfunction”.
I have yet to meet a sales team that did not have some potential for improvement. The sales dysfunctions we often identify include some combination of the following:
- Poor Job Fit
- No CRM / poor CRM use
- Poor sales processes
- Evidence of Golden Child(ren)
- You are not involved.
Poor Job Fit
Many people want to make money… Precious few can actually sell. Most sales teams have team members from yesteryear who were hired based upon a relationship and are order takers rather than sales professionals who add value.
If you have read my posts, I passionately believe in using a valid sales assessment test like the TriMetrix® HD to identify high potential sales talent. The risks of hiring low performers without a tool like TriMetrix® HD are just too high.
Naturally, you may be thinking to yourself, “We have good sales people.”
Sure you do. Everyone has a beautiful baby and no one wants to acknowledge the child that has a face only their mother could love.
If this were baseball, I could assess your entire team and hire away the A-Rods (Those who seem like they are top performers but actually pose by "enhancing their performance" through big talk). If you have a spread in sales performance of more than 2-3 times between your top and bottom salespeople, you have a job fit problem.
Want to dramatically improve your sales? Hire better sales talent.
No CRM / poor CRM use
It blows my mind that companies still rely on notepads and the individual whims of salespeople to capture Client information. Hey… Try this sometime… Do a search of a particular conversation with a Client using your sales team’s notepads and napkins… Ineffective.
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool like Salesforce (we have been using SF for 12 years) is absolutely indispensible in creating intelligence and performance accountability. If you are not using a CRM tool like Salesforce, do yourself and your shareholders a favor – sign up.
I strongly recommend Salesforce. Why? Because it works.
Intelligence is created by:
- Reviewing accounts and sales opportunities to identify how to help your sale team add more value.
- Predicting with a fair degree of accuracy your sales numbers for the quarter and year.
- Comparing conversion rates to identify coaching opportunities of low performers.
- Identifying if you have a product problem or a performance accountability problem (a sales person who is not putting in the time).
Performance accountability is created by requiring all Customer and prospect engagement be recorded in a standardized fashion. My philosophy is “if it is not in Salesforce, it did not happen.”
Speaking of accountability… Even if you use a CRM like Salesforce, you have to actually use it. The best sales people dislike using a CRM and many companies “reward” high performers by saying, “You do not have to use Saleforce very much.” That is a lousy idea because it reduces intelligence and it destroys accountability and morale with the rest of the sales team.
Everyone must use a CRM system. Period.
Poor sales processes
Unfortunately, few companies have standardized sales processes including the selling cycle, recording of Customer/prospect interactions, proposals, and follow-up. By standardizing your sales processes, consistency and accountability are created as well as valuable time is saved.
Evidence of Golden Child(ren)
Most sales teams have a “golden child”or two who are not held accountable and are virtually untouchable. The existence of a “golden child” means lower sales performance, productivity, and sale's team morale. I find this especially common in small companies.
If you have a “golden child” on your sales team, you probably think you are fooling everyone. I can walk into any sales team and after talking with each team member, I will know with certainty who it is.
You are not engaged.
Sales teams require engagement by you. Whether you are the CEO or sales manager / VP, you must be engaged for at least two reasons.
- Your counsel. If you are the CEO, especially if you are the founder, you have precious experience that can help close the sale. Furthermore, many prospects love to see the CEO involved.
- Your encouragement / inspiration / motivation. As CEO or sales manager / VP you must engage your sales team to encourage them during difficult times, inspire, and motivate when necessary.
Chances are you have a combination of the above-described problems and the good news is they are easy to address. You just have to decide to address them.
Remember… Interested people do what is convenient. Committed people do whatever it takes.
Tell you what… If you currently do not use a valid sales assessment test to hire the best sales talent, do not use a CRM tool like Salesforce, and you have a “Golden Child” or two, give me a call.
Hiring mistakes happen often . . . too often. Actually, 66% of hiring managers regret their hiring decisions. When hiring mistakes do happen, it can be for a number of reasons including too much reliance on the interviewer's evaluation, the candidate seeming more fit than they actually are, having an unstructured and ineffective hiring process, or not taking the time to carefully review the requirements of the job.
Considering that only 3 out of 5 organizations actually take the time to deeply evaluate necessary skills, experience, and attributes needed for a job, it is no wonder hiring mistakes happen often. Think about it . . . You hire someone without knowing exactly what to hire for.
We often find that hiring managers will try to hire a replica of the rockstar employee who held the position prior or they avoid hiring someone who is even remotely similar to the dud they fired. This is a highly ineffective strategy because it fails to account for what needs to be done in the job. Instead, it accounts for the person that may or may not have done their job well. This also invites the opportunity for you to be bias in hiring by hiring someone who you like rather than someone you know is fit with the job requirements.
For example, Super Sandy has been a salesperson at your company for over ten years. She is great at prospecting, but she had to relocate. You were very disappointed when Sandy left because she made bank, but her coworkers were excited to see her leave because they know what you were too oblivious to see. Sandy did make a lot of money through new clients, but she was not so good at nurturing existing clients, which meant her coworkers had to pick up the slack. Hiring someone just like Sandy may leave current clients unattended to. If you are smart, you review the job accountabilities to hire someone who is capable of covering it all not just prospecting.
In addition, companies today are changing faster than ever, which means a job analysis should be completed over time to ensure all vital tasks are getting done and changing as the company does. In Sandy's case, she may have worked really well at the company for some time but nurturing is more becoming more critical as the company builds a client base. This is why it is necessary to complete a job benchmark prior and hire those those who fit the benchmark. A job benchmark not only enables you to hire the right person objectively, it also enables you to shift accountabilities when changes happen in the company.
If you are planning to hire or shift responsibilities in your company, you must complete a job analysis or Job Benchmark as we call it. You must let the job talk, not the person currently in the job. When you do so, here are some things you want to identify about the job:
- What goals will be achieved in this position in the next year?
- What are the key accountabilities - the 3-5 tasks that make the position exist?
- If the job could talk, which skill would be detrimental?
- How is this position held accountable for performance (i.e. weekly progress reports)?
- How does this job contribute to the bottom-line?
A job benchmark should be very in-depth and the questions above are just a synopsis of all the data you should be gathering. Once you gather the information for the job benchmark, you can continue the process by using an algorithm like the Rainmaker Group uses to identify the personality fit for that job.
There are interested people and there are those who are committed. Interested people do what is convenient and committed people do whatever it takes.
Are you an executive seeking to improve? Can executive coaching help you? A person seeking knowledge? Are you realistic about your strengths and weaknesses? If these attributes describe you, you may have the potential for “Excellent Coachability” according to the Seven Levels of Executive Coachabilty shared by Terry Bacon and Laurie Voss, Phd in their book “Adaptive Coaching – The Art and Practice of a Client-Centered Approach to Performance Improvement”.
Executive coaching can be very beneficial. A Korn Ferry meta analysis of executive coaching studies found that executive coaching improves individual skills and behavior, team performance, productivity, and employee job satisfaction – and the best results come from executives who are committed.
And there lies the problem. Commitment. Not every executive is committed to the coaching process nor the employees they serve. It is important to begin with the end in mind – for both the executive and the coach. What does the executive truly want for themselves and those they serve?
It is also important to have clarity about the coaching needs, the potential of the executive and that of subordinates where possible.
We provide executive coaching services and have experienced mixed results. The main distinguishing qualifier is commitment. Not every executive is willing to change, break old habits, nor do what it takes to improve. For many executives, they are either married to themselves or married to their problems, and they are unwilling or unable to make meaningful change.
If you or a team member is considering hiring an executive coach, there are some critical things you should consider first. You may feel committed to the process and change, but your commitment level may change once you realize how challenging the process can be. Here are some things to consider:
Management: If you are not the ultimate decision maker, you have to have those above you onboard. They have to be as committed to the process as you are. (Korn/Ferry)
Organizational/Team member support: You need those around you to support the change because they will help make that change lasting by holding you accountable when the coach is no longer around (Manchester Review)
Time: If you do not have the time to commit, executive coaching will be much less effective.(Manchester Review)
Coach: The coach and executive must be a good fit. An executive will not be accepting of the coaching if someone else chooses that person for them or is forced to go through the process.
Objectives: Before beginning the process, the objectives need to be clearly defined. You cannot measure what is not quantified. There needs to be a process laid out and ways to measure whether that process is effective. They will be modified throughout the process. (Korn/Ferry)
Conclusion: Average people who are committed can get extraordinary results. If you are committed to being the best leader possible, executive coaching can help you get there. Find a coach that you can work with and put in the time to do it right. Engage your team to support the changes you are making and to hold you accountable.
Why do some leaders have an ability to surpass expectations and create something far bigger than themselves? Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, knows what it takes to do that. He knows that to be successful hiring the right people is critical.
The most successful leaders, including Welch, have a track record of surrounding themselves with high performing talent that pushes them and their company to be better. To reduce the risk of making the wrong hire, successful leaders also use a structured hiring process that is measurable, repeatable and objective.
Here is the hiring strategy you should be following:
Step 1: What does the job need to be successful? – You should review the key accountabilities for each position you are filling. What tasks/functions are required by this position to be successful?
Once you have identified the 3-5 major tasks/functions that must be done, identify how much time is spent in each area, and also rank them by strategic importance. These are your key accountabilities.
Example: If you have a sales role that is expected to spend the majority of their time prospecting new Clients, but it is strategically most important that they close deals – you may put more weight into a candidate’s ability to close deals.
It seems obvious, but in my experience, hiring managers often hire based on what was done in the past, rather than what needs to be done to make the position successful. This is not always best for the position and company. Companies and roles are currently evolving and adapting (to some extent) to what their customers and environment demand. What your last employee did in the role may have been good enough but may not be what is needed to move forward.
On the other hand, be careful not to create a "super job" - a job in which you expect too much variety from one position. If you are looking for someone that is great with people and enjoys customer interaction, you should not expect that same person to spend a majority of their time isolated from others counting beans and be happy doing it.
Step 2: Identify the non-negotiables – Create a list of non-negotiables for the position (i.e. specific education, experience, training). If the position requires a candidate to hold a 4-year degree and you will not negotiate on this, you can eliminate all candidates that do not match this.
Once you have identified your ideal candidate using the key accountabilities and non-negotiables, you can transfer that information to a Hiring Scorecard. The Hiring Scorecard is an objective and simple way to measure a candidate against your non-negotiables and also to measure one candidate against another to identify the best talent.
Step 3: Hook, line, and sinker – Using the Key Accountabilities and non-negotiables of the position, you can create a realistic job description. Many job descriptions can be misleading about the position and what it really entails. By creating your job description from the accountabilities of the job, you create a truer description and will in turn attract only interested talent.
There is no use posting a fluffy ad only to spend your time sorting through applicants that do not fit the position OR that are no longer interested once they learn more (the real stuff) about the position.
Keep your ideal candidate in mind when creating your ad – use language and terms that will appeal to your target audience. You can engage your current high-performing team members by including them in this process. Have them help develop some of the language that would appeal to them – make it a fun, team-building activity.
Step 4: Weeding – Now the applications are flooding in! You should “weed” through candidates by removing any candidates that do not meet your non-negotiable criteria. The most effective way to further screen candidates is by using a validated pre-employment assessment tool like the TriMetrix® HD. You can use an EEOC compliant tool like this one to identify how well a candidate’s personality aligns with the requirements of the job (identified in Step 1).
Using the above sales example: Do your candidates have what it takes to ask for a sale? Are they bottom-line oriented and driven to make money?
If they do not have what it takes to be successful in that role, I strongly suggest you wait for someone that is. Otherwise, you will spend much quality time coaching this person to do what they may not be naturally wired to do. Not fun for them – not fun for you.
Step 5: The Interviews – Sometimes non-negotiables cannot be identified by reviewing the resume alone. I recommend including questionning around some of these items early in the initial interview to eliminate candidates that do not meet that criteria.
If a requirement is a valid drivers license and reliable transportation, now is a good time to identify that. If this is one of your non-negotiables – there is no need to move forward or spend any additional time with this candidate. Let’s move on to the candidates more suited to receive our time!
Create a standard list of interview questions. Asking the same questions of each candidate is another way to measure one candidate against another. To learn more about asking the rightinterview questions, check out The Best & Worst Interview Questions to Ask During the Hiring Process.
Also, you should not stop at one interview - even when you are in a hurry! You should stagger the interviews (minimum of 3 is recommended) because each one provides a little deeper view into your organization and a little more insight into your candidate. Including other management/ team members and interviewing in different environments (office, coffee shop, cafe) can help to draw out different parts of the candidate's personality.
Step 6: Bringing them aboard – Once you have identified the best candidate and they have accepted the position, that’s when the real work starts! Generally, you hire for the long term so ensuring that the pairing starts out on the right foot is crucial.
If you used a tool like the TriMetrix® HD assessment, it will become valuable during the onboarding stage because it provides advice on how to manage the new team member effectively.
By developing a structured hiring process, you reduce the amount of risk associated with a hire, the risk of human bias, the risk of a potential lawsuit, and the risk of making the wrong hire. And more importantly, you reduce the risk of failing to succeed as a leader.
Ten years ago a friend handed me a book that would change my life and the lives of many of our Clients. That book is QBQ! – The Question Behind The Question by John Miller.
I was incredulous after reading QBQ in a little over an hour and realizing the energy and freedom I could get by practicing Personal Accountability via John’s simple and effective stories and three step process. Get the book to learn what they are.
Personal Accountability. Everyone wants it. Few organizations have it.
When we complete a culture scan for our Clients, what do you think is one of the highest personal values yet one that rarely is evident in the culture of the team and company?
I am often asked how Personal Accountability can be improved in the workplace. My answer is simple & here are the 3 things you can do:
Be a role model of Personal Accountability.
Hello, Leader. The buck stops with you. Period. Always. Everything is your fault and I mean everything.
You shape the environment your team works in. Hire the wrong people – your fault. Enable your team to get off track from the goals – your fault. Avoid conflict because you do not have the guts to say what needs to be said – your fault. Your people are working on the wrong things – your fault. Your people do not show up for mandatory meetings – your fault.
What happens under your leadership is your fault.
I cannot begin to tell you how much energy and freedom this mindset provides for me. I cannot change other people. I cannot make people believe. I can lead with Personal Accountability.
Read the QBQ! and talk about it with your team.
How many employee team members are in your company? Get them each the book. There is no investment that I can think of that will provide this kind of return on investment. If you have “get its” on your team, they will devour the book and use it to improve their career, family, and life.
Buy a book here and we will get QBQ! shipped immediately.
Once you have the QBQ! Book in your possession – your team members must read it. Expect everyone to read the book by a particular date. Then talk about it with them in meetings. Throw down the gauntlet! Share your commitment to improve. Provide specific examples of how you will improve and then do it. Do what you say you will do!
Provide Training In Personal Accountability to your employee team members and expect them to be a role model.
Reading the QBQ! Book is just the beginning. If you are really committed to improving your team’s performance, then you will take every single one of them through the powerful QBQ! Training Program. This is actually something you can and should deliver yourself if possible. Contact us to find out how.
Average people put this off. One of the regrets I hear from leaders is, “I did not read QBQ when you told me to. I wish I would have because I / we would have improved much sooner.”
Today is a good day to change your life through Personal Accountability.
The majority of our Clients have a strong yearning to be better and to make their company better. They constantly need to feel growth. They have an itch that needs to be scratched . . . always. The prospects who contact us but move on quickly have a commonality because they lack this deep-seated desire for growth and are unable to commit to what is necessary for growth. They do not have an itch but feel compelled to do something because the board or team members say something needs to be done. These prospects will probably search forever but never find a solution that is capable of doing what that "deep-seated desire" or the "itch" of our committed Clients will do. They will never truly be committed to growth. If you are committed to growing your business, you will take the advice in this post, and it will work. If you do not have the commitment to do what is necessary to scratch that itch, do not waste your time reading.
The following are ten commitments you must make for business growth to happen:
Get Your Head Checked
All problems start at the head, which is why you need to get your head checked before you do anything else on this list. Let me be clear, not all leaders are the company's problem, but the ones who are often do not see it. Thus, it is critical that I give you a nice little reminder here to check your behavior and work habits.
The leaders (If you can even call them that?) who are the first to criticize others and first to "pat him or herself on the back" are usually those who need the most improvement through (1) Recognizing leadership faults that may be contributing to company problems (2) Getting a coach, mentor, or peers. Sadly, these leaders will read this post and not even flinch to think I am writing about them.
So my advice to all leaders whether you do or do not need to get your head checked is to get feedback from peers or your team to ensure your are not the problem and if you are, to improve.
Never Be Satisfied With The Status Quo
In my recent post, Congratulations You Are CEO, Now Don't Get Comfortable, I discussed how important it is for leaders to avoid the comfort zone. You should never be satisfied with the status quo because you cannot be great if you are just average. With yourself, team members, product or service, and company as a whole, you cannot be satisfied with the status quo. Mediocrity breeds mediocrity, and mediocrity does not help your business grow.
Hire Those Who Fit or You Can Quit
All too often, non-committed executives will come to the Rainmaker Group with a slight desire to be better, but they do not like what we have to say. Why? They either have to fire someone who is poisoning the culture or we recommend they do no hire someone who has poor fit but seems like great potential because they charmed the interviewer. The reality is executives cannot expect to have a better company if they do not hire or retain those who fit the job AND company culture.
You know that saying, "You are what you eat?" Well, in business, you are who you hire. Hire those who do not fit, and you will have problems. It is similar to if you eat a tub of ice cream everyday for a week straight- you will not get into your "skinny jeans." In business, you will not get into a desired culture when you hire those who do not fit.
To read more about job fit, check out Hire and "Cultivate" Based on Job Fit Not "Warm Fuzzies"
Commit To Differentiation
You can differentiate your business from others, but I am not going to discuss that here because if you do everything I suggest in this post, you will accomplish this. However, differentiation between your people is a necessity to growing your business and must be discussed.
Differentiation on your team helps you determine those who fit and those who do not. Let me add clarification . . . A candidate or team member can have ideal job fit but still perform poorly (this doesn't happen often). This is why it is critical to identify your top, middle, and bottom performers.
Once you differentiate performance, you do not continue to give equal love regardless of performance. You must, I mean MUST, award performance accordingly. This keeps your top performers happy, middle performers hungry for a piece of the "top performer pie," and allows low performers to move on to the competitor's doorstep.
Set Clear Expectations
Unclear expectations make differentiation very difficult. Clear expectations tell employees what accountabilities they must do to perform the job well. You cannot improve what is not measured, and you certainly cannot measure a job well done when accountabilities are not clearly defined.
Let team members know what is expected of them by having clearly defining job roles, identifying key accountabilities, and prioritizing those accountabilities.
Make Accountability A Core Value
Once you set clear expectations, you have to hold team members accountable for those expectations. A lack of accountability can cause a whole basket of problems. You can read about those in 5 Signs Personal Accountability Isn't A Core Company Value.
If you want accountability to be a core value of the company, you have to start with you. Make accountability a personal value. In addition, it is critical for you to allow team members to feel comfortable making mistakes. If they do not fear consequences, they will be accountable for all they do good and bad.
When accountability is a core value, it is easy to identify low performers because they usually are not accountable because they fear the consequences. They usually know they are in hot water, but they middle and top performers will be comfortable with accountability because they know a mistake here and there is not the end for them.
Make Customers #1
In today's fast and growing market, you have no other choice but to put customers first. Why? First and foremost, if a customer is upset, they can tell the whole world their story. For example, yesterday our Chief Rainmaker, Chris Young had flight issues. Here is what happened:
See . . . unhappy customers share their story with all of Twitter and considering there are 200 million active users on Twitter, that is a lot of people who may potentially see that story.
Second of all, if you do not put your customers first, someone else will. This is not exclusive to providing great customer experience, but to also give the customers the best possible product or service you can offer, even if that means you lose a couple pennies. Wait, do you have to lose so that your customer can win? No, it is a win-win situation. Your customer is happy, so they tell a friend who tells a friend who tells a friend . . .you get it. Here is a perfect example to demonstrate the importance of putting customer's first . . .
Recently, Maker's Mark abandoned the "Customers 1st" philosophy to enable the company to provide more whiskey to consumers by lowering the alcohol content. Sadly for Maker's Mark, this meant many existing customers were pissed off about their watered down whiskey. While the company did see an increase in sales because customers wanted to stock up on "the good stuff" before it was gone, they are likely to feel the pain after loyal customers begin buying "the good stuff" elsewhere. Maker's Mark not only watered down their whiskey, they also watered down their brand and with that, they will lose loyal customers.
Do Not Shrink Growth With "Old School Marketing"
According to a recent Consumer Report, half of Americans use DVR and of that half 68% do so to skip commercials. Let's face it, unless you are watching the SuperBowl, commercials are a nuisance and so are the rest of our-of-context ads. Anytime we have to detour an ad online just to read what we want to read, we get irritated.
This is why old marketing is dead, but what marketing will work in the changing world? Native or contextual marketing. In a nutshell, native marketing is putting the information wherever, however, and whenever the consumer needs it. For example, one night I am shopping for new shoes on a website. The next day I am on Facebook and there is an ad from the same website for the perfect pair of shoes (Of course I bought them). How perfect? The website used my online behavior to figure out exactly what I wanted and put it where I was most likely to find it at the perfect time.
You can learn more about native marketing in this infographic, and you can also read more about contextual marketing in What Is Contextual Marketing? Some Context and The Future of Inbound: Shel Israel Looks Ahead to the 'Age of Context'.
If you really want to make it in this new world of marketing, you have to make changes to your marketing strategy. You can do this by modifying existing marketing roles (This can be difficult because "old school marketers" resist changes in marketing) or you can do it by hiring someone who is fit for the new marketing strategy.
Make Your Culture A Magnet For Top Talent & Future Customers
This tip goes along well with the previous tip because providing great content and marketing in a way that people love makes great candidates and great customers come to you. You will still have to seek top talent, but you are less likely to be turned down on the offer when you have a great culture and reputation among job seekers.
There is no such thing as a "ideal culture" because what works for one industry or company may not work for others. This is especially true when it comes to smaller businesses because the culture is largely reflective of the leadership. When problems arise in the company, they most often come from a poorly defined culture. A poorly defined culture happens because of poor leadership, a lack of a mission and vision statement that is communicated regularly, and few or no communication and conflict norms. When the culture is not defined by the former, the culture will define itself. Thus, you end up with a culture you do not want to create.
Learn From The Past, Be In the Present, & Look To The Future.
So cheesy but so true it has to be said, and is definitely fit to be the last piece of advice I give. You do not want to make the same mistakes again, so you reflect on the past. This can be a good thing to a point, but when you focus too much on the past, you forget about the present. When you think too much about the present, you forget about the future.
My advice to you is to learn from the past and never dwell on it. Be in the present, especially with others. And finally, always keep the future in your mind, but do not let "what-if scenarios" keep you from taking action.
Recently, I re-read the first couple chapters of The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge and I came across the powerful quote – “What if, in light of what organizations could be, ‘excellence’ is actually ‘mediocrity’?”
Fuel for my soul… If you are like me, mediocrity drives you nuts.
Unless you are continuously reaching higher to improve, you are always in some state of mediocrity. The heart of how and what gets done is the team, and it is often mired in some level of mediocrity. The sooner you acknowledge this fact and actively work to build your team, the better you will be.
When is the last time you worked to improve your most important asset – your team? Few executives actively work on themselves and their team and they absolutely must. Smart executives do. Unfortunately, most executives wait until things get really bad before they do something about how their team works together.
Right now and every single day is the time to work on how your team works together.
Two important questions to ask yourself:
- How much is dysfunction in your team costing you?
- What are you going to do about it?
Every team has some level of dysfunction – including my own. If you are not growing and improving, you are dying.
The good news is you can do something about it. If you are a long-time reader of my blogs, you know I am a huge Patrick Lencioni fan. He wrote the powerful book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” as well as "The Advantage" and "The Four Obsessions of the Extraordinary Executive." I suggest you read all of his books.
Of all of the “tools” in our toolbox, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team workshop is one of the most powerful we offer and here are the reasons why…
Improve team member trust by getting them talking about who they are and what they want. Barriers will come down and when they do, trust improves amongst team members. Without improved trust, conflict will not happen.
Due to behavior style differences and lack of conflict norms, teams do not talk about what needs to be talked about. The best ideas are not brought forth and innovation suffers. Create conflict norms to “mine for conflict”. Without conflict, commitment will not occur.
Teams must commit and work together to get a 100 percent outcome. Unfortunately, meetings are one of the worst places for commitment. There are simple tactics that may be used to improve commitment and get results.
Teams must hold one another accountable and most do not. Most teams wait for management to hold team members accountable, and I find this absolutely does not work effectively. Team members must be able to go to one another and share their needs.
If the team has not improved Trust, Conflict, Commitment, and Accountability, Results will not happen. Failure to get results is often due to team members being focused on other agendas than the team’s core agenda. The value of “First Team” is significant.
The sad truth is that teams are not talking and working together the way that they can and should. When we complete a Five Dysfunctions of a Team workshop, it is often the first time team members have gotten things “off their chest”. Team members need to build the trust, skills, and confidence necessary to do this on their own.
Following are five ways to improve your Five Dysfunctions of a Team training:
- Remove low performers prior to the session.
- Bring in an experienced facilitator.
- Complete the Team Assessment Report to identify your team’s “growth opportunities."
- Complete a conflict mining session with an experienced facilitator.
- Complete refresher sessions to get new team members onboard and existing team members on track.
Ultimately, Mr/Miss CEO or senior leader in your company… The “buck stops with you”. Working on your team is a big undertaking – one that will be filled with emotion, challenge, and hope. Intent counts more than anything right now. Doing something is better than doing nothing.
The real question for you… What will my legacy be? Will it be, “We kicked ass and made our mark in the world!” or will it be, “We survived until we got bought out / retirement.”
You may also want to check out our Five Dysfunctions of a Team Infographic.
Have you ever purchased something that only disappointed you later on? We all have...
When I was seventeen, I wanted a motorcycle in the worst way. A friend of mine had one for sale and I absolutely had to have it. I bought it without considering the facts. I bought it purely on emotion. The reasons to buy it were evident, and the reasons not to were avoided.
While I enjoyed it the first few days, I began to get serious buyer's remorse. The excitement was dulled when reality began to set it. I got ripped off! I soon saw what I could have got if I hadn't made such an emotional decision.
Similarly, I often hear of “buyer’s remorse” when it comes to managers who hire salespeople that do not perform as hoped. I hear things like, “Where is the person I interviewed?”
There are three contributing problems to managers experiencing "buyer's remorse."
- Not knowing what kind of salesperson you really need.
- Hiring the wrong kind of salesperson.
- Hiring on emotion without objective data to prove the potential of the sales candidate.
What Kind of Salesperson Do You Really Need?
The only way to identify objectively the kind of salesperson you need is to complete a Key Accountabilities review and a Job Benchmark.
The Key Accountabilities Review identifies the “task buckets” necessary to get the job done, the time necessary to complete them, and their strategic importance. Failure to take the time to identify the key accountabilities usually results in the wrong kind of sales person being hired and the wrong expectations being set. Job Benchmarking uses the Key Accountabilities as a valuable communication tool to determine the best job match for your company.
I have had sales managers come to me saying they need us to help them hire an outside sales person (hunter). Then, I review the Key Accountabilities and Job Benchmark with them to find out that the salesperson will be accountable for maintaining client relationships most of the time. A true hunter would destroy those client relationships. These sales managers simply want the hunter because they read somewhere in a blog that hunters are best, but they did not take the time to review the tasks required to sell well. This is why it is critical to review the Key Accountabilities and Job Benchmark before you start searching for a particular type of salesperson.
Types of Salespeople
It is critical to hire the type of salesperson you need for the position. The traditional question is, “Do you need a hunter salesperson or a farmer?”
The right question is, “Do you need a hunter, farmer, or someone in the middle – a guide?”
The “hunter” salesperson is an aggressive problem-solver. The hunter salesperson can readily move between task and people. They seek to build relationships that are purposeful – for an objective to be accomplished. True hunter salespeople handle rejection well and are able move on quickly when it occurs during cold calls or when knocking on doors.
The best hunter sales people want to make money and want to take charge of their future. Most hunters are not particularly good at details, nor are they particularly good at long-term relationships unless there is something in it for them. The better / best hunter salespeople have very short attention spans.
The best “farmer” salespeople enjoy building long-term relationships and are better at making sure the details are handled well. Farmers do not handle rejection as well - their natural style may take it too personally at times. The best farmer salespeople have a strong people focus, yet want to make money and want to take charge of their future. They tend to be better listeners and more thorough in their approach to getting things done.
You have most likely heard of the hunter and farmer before but have you heard of the guide? The guide is the sales personality between hunter and farmer that moves the sales relationship purposefully. They are able to be like the aggressive hunter but also build and maintain long-term relationships like the farmer. They can move between hunting and farming at will – spending their time between the two - where they see their time being most strategic. Like the hunter and the farmer, the guide seeks to make money and take charge of their future. The guide is best in sales roles where developing new business and maintain long-term relationships.
Studies show that people are biased. But of course… Personally, I have made some poor hiring decisions because I trusted my gut too much. Today, I do not hire anyone nor recommend my Clients hire anyone without completing a Key Accountabilities Review, Job Benchmark and then comparing that to the TriMetrix® HD results of a candidate.
Failing to identify the kind of salesperson you need in combination with not using a valid sales assessment like the TriMetrix® HD will lead to reduced sales performance and a sales manager with “flat forehead syndrome” - coaching a low performer so much that you bang your head against a wall repeatedly.