"I want it now! I want it now! I want it now!". These are the famous words of Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Actually... I have said these very words in the last year...
We have a Client who is a rapidly-expanding entrepreneur. He is an "entrepreneur's entrepreneur". He once told us, "I have the patience of a 2-year-old" when it comes to getting talent onboard.
Over the last decade, we have seen the consequences of hiring the wrong person for the job. And the consequences are usually profound.
When it comes to hiring top performers - particularly salespeople, do you have the patience of a 2-year-old? Most entrepreneurs and sales managers want their new hires now and the costs of impatience are extraordinarily high.
What can you do?
Calculate the cost of the problem.
The fear of losing drives true entrepreneurs and high-performing sales managers absolutely crazy. If you sat down for 60 minutes and reflected on the cost of hiring the wrong salespeople, you would immediately take action. So stop...
What is the difference between a low and high sales performer? There are two major advantages from a cost standpoint of a high job fit sales team member over a low performer. Your sales management time and profits. A low job fit salesperson will eat up your valuable management time until you throw in the towel and will not sell nearly as well as a high job fit salesperson.
Job fit matters.
I love to hear when people say, "My gut feels good about this candidate." I am always polite as I think, "Uh huh..." After comparing performance of the best-of-the-best sales talent and also the worst, I am convinced that sale's leaders whose hiring process consists at maximum of an interview and checking references should be charged with a crime.
Human beings are biased. Interviews by themselves are inaccurate and sometimes the references are too. The best salespeople - whether inside sales, outside sales, or account management - have common traits that are measurable using an assesment tool. Job Fit matters more than anything. Just as your convertible isn't made for snowy winters, some people just aren't fit for sales. Know how to identify those fit for sales by downloading this guide.
I tell my Clients the most important decision in every decision is to decide. Decide to do something. So often people see a problem, do the research, nod in agreement that there is indeed a problem, and then do absolutely nothing about it. Decide to hire only the best salespeople and commit to doing so. Once you commit, make sure there is some there to hold you accountable to your decision.
Educate and partner.
Our best Clients educate themselves about the cost of hiring the wrong salespeople. They know how to hire salespeople effectively and to do that they need a scientific approach.
Our best Clients do not hide behind HR (so many people do). Those who hide behind HR say, "HR won't let me... HR does not believe in assessments..."
If this sounds like you, it is time to assess how much your HR department is costing you.
HR must be 100 percent onboard with the strategy to select only the best salespeople.
Have an "ABH" program.
If you are committed to only hiring the very best salespeople possible, the best "antidote" to not being able to find talent is to always be hiring. A wise person once told me, "You will not catch fish if you do not have your line in the water." Keep your line in the water at all times. You never know - the next bite may just feed the whole company.
You need what I call an "ABH Program" (Always Be Hiring).
The more your door is open, the higher the potential that you will identify a star performer. We have seen situations where it can take hundreds of candidates to identify that truly special sales performer with the appropriate Job Fit, experience, and background.
If you are always in the "hiring mode" - you will have the ability to be choosy.
What should you do next?
Stop rushing the hiring process and follow my advice. All good things come to those who wait. Sometimes you have to patient when hiring because one bad apple does spoil the whole bunch. Establish an objective sales hiring process that ensures you won't make the wrong hire out of desperation.
Have you ever tried to make a transformation in your sales team but were unsuccessful? There are a myriad of potential reasons but the real reasons come down to you (the leader) and each individual sales team member to make the transformation successful.
One such transformation that went reasonably well with a few speed bumps was with a Client who was tied to old industry habits, and one of the old habits was to provide virtually life time support by phone for FREE.
Imagine having an old Apple iMac that was ten years old, and you expected free phone support.
You get the idea.
It was time to make a change - to begin charging for phone-based Customer service provided on non-warrantied equipment. The opportunities were significant and the challenges were definitely there. One such challenge was "Ed" (not his real name of course).
Ed was a long-term inside sales team member, and he believed he was indispensible.
As an initial first step, we assessed the existing sales team and Culture. Overall, we were excited. We knew there would be challenges in the transformation. We saw opportunity to develop customized coaching plans that would help each inside sales team member grow their sales.
Many of the inside sales team members welcomed the change from "free to fee" with open arms. They had an opportunity to make more money, and they had long believed the company gave away too much.
As a long-term employee, Ed was naturally seen as a leader. We worked hard to help him believe in the changes needed. Initially, it seemed that Ed was "all in". He seemingly embraced the scripting and cross-sell / up-sell changes we had put in place. We also recommended that compensation be tied to sales. As a result, Ed received a sizable raise as he used the skills and techniques provided to him.
It was all window dressing.
Soon we began hearing stories from his colleagues saying, "Ed is not on the program and in fact, he is saying all the right things while you are here and when you are gone, he is doing almost the complete opposite of what we are supposed to be doing."
The next time I was onsite, I reviewed his sales calls closely and heard what others were saying. Ed not only did not "get it". He was destroying Customer and shareholder value.
I sat down with Ed and attempted to enroll him in the vision yet again. It was not to be. I was looking into the eyes of a man who had given up and it was clear. He was not going to do what needed to be done to do his job well. He thought management was screwed up and out to get him.
Ed had zero personal accountability. Everything was everyone else's fault.
Of course HR stepped in to save the day. They did not allow Ed to be terminated for almost two months. In the meantime, the damage was incredible. Ed enrolled others into his "vision" of negativity and the overall inside sales team's performance suffered as a result.
As is often the case, the company should have let Ed go much, much sooner than they did.
Change efforts fail because of two reasons. One is there are plenty of "Eds" who do not get it and will buck the change. Two - you as a leader have not fully-committed to making the transformation stick. It is up to you always.
If you are making a sales transformation, it is important to do the following...
- Know what you are dealing with. Use a sales assessment to understand what makes sales team member "tick". Develop a customized coaching and engagement plan using the assessment results to help enroll sales team members in your vision.
- Enroll sales team members in the vision. Help your sales team members see how the changes are going to make an impact both on the Customer and on themselves.
- Decide. Set timelines and decide to go through with the sales transformation.
- Set expectations. Let your sales team members know what you expect of them.
- Accountability. Support early adopters and make sure every sales team member adopts and uses the established approach.
- Remove low performers and those who will not support the transformation. Be clear about the ultimate accountability regarding what happens if the desired actions are not taken by the sales team member.
The good news is it does not need to be complicated. In fact, the entire process is rather intuitive. The most difficult decision is "Will you do this?" The choice is yours.
I would like to tell you about my coworker, Joe Jones. He is known around the office for his dry humor. He invented Canadian Wednesday (we are so close to Canada, it had to be done and it is just as cold here as it is there, so we might as well pretend to be Canadian once a week, Eh?). He also invented Analogy Free Friday (a.k.a. AFF). On this day, we are not allowed to use analogies because we really do love them here but need a break once a week. Okay, Joe needs a break at least once a week (Probably because he runs out of them). Don’t let Joe’s ability to make our workplace more entertaining fool you. I have to give Joe the credit he deserves. He gets stuff done and does it well.
Joe recently returned from a project with a large healthcare organization where he consulted with many of their team members. Upon his return, the first words he sarcastically muttered were, “I am so worn out from all this flexing I have been doing.” Joe did not mean he was “flexing” his triceps and biceps like the gentleman to the right. What Joe really meant is that he had just spent many hours communicating with people who had behavioral styles much different than his. He was "flexing" his behavioral style.
To explain further . . . Joe is a high CD in DISC profile terms, which means he is naturally much more task-oriented than people-oriented. He is there to do the job and prefers to stick to the task at hand with less idle chit chat. Joe is the "cut to the chase" type of person. The team members he was working with were mainly higher I's and S's and much more people-oriented. While they enjoyed telling their stories and sharing their experiences - working through people, Joe was really testing his "behavioral strength" by adapting to the people-oriented environment.
This was only a few days of major "flexing" and because Joe was well-aware of the differences between his style and the team members, he survived and actually enjoyed some of the stories shared. However, if Joe worked constantly in an environment where he had to "bend" his style, burn out would happen quickly.
In the workplace, team members are often adapting their behavioral style to some extent to accommodate others and the work environment. However, constant "flexing" of behavioral style, can result in stress, miscommunication, conflict, and disengagement. In addition, being unaware of how your environment may be causing you to flex can make matters worst.
What can you do to avoid the issues associated with frequent flexing?
Understand Behavioral Styles
Before or after problems arise, you can assess team members to understand their communication preferences, ideal work environment, and how to prevent and resolve conflict with them. Without using an assessment, you only guess how other's prefer to interact in their environment or you completely neglect to care. Doing both makes you an incompetent leader because you do not truly your most important investments - your people.
Understand Your Own Style
All problems start at the head, especially in small companies when leadership is closely involved with all aspects of business. By understanding your own style, you can hire, retain, and develop those who work well with you and share your vision. When other's aren't similar to your behavioral style, it does not mean you have to terminate or should pass them up. You want a variety of styles on your team, but you may need to limit time with that person or create coaching plans that work with those differences.
Hire the Right Styles
As I said, you do want a variety of styles on your team. However, you have to put the individual in an environment that is suited. This all depends on the position and what needs to be done. In the healthcare organization Joe visited, people-orientation is needed in most positions. A nurse who isn't people-oriented isn't very pleasant and creates a bad patient experience. However, the healthcare organization still needs task-oriented people in departments like accounting.
Create Communication Norms
How each team member prefers to give and receive information varies greatly. You can have each team member create a short document using the DISC report that shares how each team member prefers to communicate. You can learn more about creating communication norms in this post. If you already have had your team members complete an assessment that measures the DISC behavioral style, you can use this graph to understand how two different styles should interact with one another.
Working in a natural environment where an employee does not have to constantly flex is when performance is at its' best. Flexing behavioral style does not necessarily mean a team member is destined for failure, but it means there is a potential they may have problems more frequently or get burnt out faster. Also, being aware of when you or team members will need to flex your behavioral style and working on ways to minimize those instances, will help minimize conflict, low morale, stress, and miscommunication.
Do you hire the salesperson you like or the salesperson who will get the job done?
Recently, we met with a strategic recruiting partner who uses our sales hiring process and tools to help their Clients select the best outside salespeople possible. They shared a situation that happens all-too-frequently. Our partner was frustrated because, despite their efforts to help their Client hire the best outside salesperson, their Client chose the "nice" guy - the one most liked by the decision maker.
While the "nice" guy is great in many professions, they will always finish last in outside sales. They may get hired because they are likeable, but when put out in the market, they fail to deliver and ultimately finish last.
Let's dive into the details further. Part of our TriMetrix(R) HD assessment series is a highly-validated DISC assessment that measures behaviors or how one acts. While many assessments in the marketplace measure behaviors, a word of caution is necessary here. Do not rely on just a behavior assessment alone because an individual's performance is affected by behaviors, motivators, and many other factors. The DISC assessment is a snapshot of an individual. The assessment your company uses should be as comprehensive as possible so that you can get the whole picture of who the candidate is or has the potential to be.
Learn more about our comprehensive TriMetrix(R) HD assessment here.
If you are unfamiliar with the DISC model, I encourage you to check out this infographic from DTS International.
I love the debates, but the frank reality is the most successful outside sales people tend to have a higher "DI" combination where the "I" does not overpower the "D."
By definition, the outside sales role requires the sales professional to generate leads. A "DI" combination where the "D" is higher than the "I" indicates an individual is likely better suited to handle rejection when approaching leads. Individuals that have an "I" higher than the "D" are more sensitive to social rejection. No one enjoys being told no, but Higher "D" styles have thicker skin and generally interpret “no” as “not now” and move on.
The sales manager (mentioned above) would have been wise to consider the job fit. She would have understood that the candidate she liked most (I higher than D) was very nice and would be liked by their Clients, but would take longer to “bounce back” from rejection and have a harder time asking for the sale.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to ensure you get the right behavioral style hired in the first place. It is absolutely essential to follow the following process. It works.
- Trust the outside sales job benchmark. The "DI" behavioral style combination, the desire to make money (Utilitarian motivator), and the desire to take control of one's destiny (Individualistic motivator) are essential to outside sales success.
- Never settle for second best. Second rate outside salespeople get beat more often than not by "sales wolves". Only select the best outside sales candidate with the ideal job fit.
- Require a hiring scorecard. A hiring scorecard can pare down sales candidates to only those who are most qualified. It gives you the ability to measure the candidates objectively against the requirements of the job.
- Put money on the line. If HR and / or a sales manager insists that you selecting a candidate who fits all of the hiring scorecard requirements but is not a strong job fit as identified by the assessment, hold them accountable when the new hire does not perform well.
Hiring the best outside sales talent requires discipline, focus, and patience. It is up to you to ensure the right outside sales candidate makes it through to become a valuable asset rather than put a drain on sales performance as well as management and coaching resources.
Welcome to this edition of the Carnival of HR! This edition is all about ways you can use your summer vacation to improve HR and yourself.
My family and I recently returned from our annual summer vacation to Ottertail Lake in Minnesota. We normally stay at a particular resort but this year we decided to switch lodging because maintenance at the prior resort had gone downhill. We had discussed making a change prior to this year but we did not because we held a lot of family memories there. While the old resort was not meeting all of our needs, the pain of leaving was not great enough to change until this year.
Now that we made the change to a new resort, we are glad we did. The resort that we stayed at this year - Ottertail Beach Resort - was fantastic. It was hard letting go of the memories at the prior resort, but we needed something better - and the change was worth it.
In business and in life, change is difficult to make. You want a better solution but there are delicate strings holding you from moving forward. However, change and risk are necessary to grow. The bottom-line here is that you have to seek the best solution, but, more importantly, you have to be willing to make changes to reach the better solution.
Enough of my advice, let's check out the other contributors for this edition . . .
Summer is a great time to soak up the sun, but Andreea Hrab says you can also use this time to improve employee performance and morale. First, she lays out the benefits of keeping around summer interns and then she discusses how you can improve morale through team-building retreats and vacation incentives. Check out this post and others at the eSkill blog. (@eSkillCorp)
When Wally Bock takes a vacation, he doesn't let work interfere. He spends the time keeping work off his mind, so that he can be more productive on workdays. When Wally takes a vacation, he says, "Time off isn't refreshing for me unless it's different from my regular days." Are you using your vacation time wisely by "refreshing" yourself? Check out Wally's post on his summer vacation expectations and also many more posts at Wally's Three Star Leadership Blog. (@wallybock)
Your team members must be asking you the hard questions. And you must listen.
No hard questions means mediocrity.
You failing to listen means mediocrity.
It is up to you.
Asking the hard questions is an important element of candor. Candor is the ability of team members to express themselves through frankness.
In Jack Welch’s powerful book Winning, chapter 2 - he says it best…
Lack of candor blocks smart ideas, fast action, and good people contributing all the stuff they’ve got. It’s a killer.
According to Welch, there are three primary benefits of candor:
- The more people involved – the more “idea rich” you get.
- Candor generates speed through debate, dialogue, and decision.
- Candor cuts costs.
I have seen what candor can do for a company.
I have also seen what the lack of candor does. In most organizations I have worked with, a lack of candor is evident and it absolutely destroys potential. I have seen a lack of candor destroy potential within my own company.
What do you need to do to bring candor to your team / business?
Recognize what the cost of a lack of candor is likely costing you.
It can be difficult to identify what a lack of candor may be costing you – there is no line item in accounting called “lack of candor costs”.
Yet the costs are obvious through the following questions you must consider.
- Do your team members share their ideas and concerns without you asking for them?
- Do you ask for ideas and input and expect answers?
- Do you encourage dialogue and debate on important decisions?
- Are your competitors out-thinking you?
- Are you losing some of your smartest people for “greener pastures”?
When you realize the full costs of a lack of candor are – you will decidedly get on the road to candor. Following are four elements that are crucial to creating an environment of healthy candor.
Expect candor. Shape your Culture to view candor as a good thing – by encouraging and rewarding candor.
Too much candor on any particular topic can create hurt feelings and morale issues. Realize candor is about bringing good ideas forward and asking the hard questions.
Candor is not a license for endless debate on a particular issue.
Make a decision. Get the facts and concerns on the table. May sure the hard questions have been asked and answered. Then make a decision and expect your team members to commit and “row” as if the decision were theirs.
I have taken pride in expecting candor at The Rainmaker Group. Where I have personally failed with candor is in allowing the debate to continue well past the point where a decision should have been made. I have at times naively thought if we just debate it out that everything will be fine. Instead, I have allowed debate to continue to the point where the debate has become mutually disrespectful at times. Get into the habit of debate and question-asking for a set period of time and then decide.
There is a time for debate and there is the time for action.
Intent counts. Assess the costs of a lack of candor and make a decision to get to a culture of candor. Realize that your initial efforts to make candor an integral part of your culture may flounder a bit. That is to be expected. If you are a smaller business, it is far easier to make candor a part of your culture.
Consider reading Jack Welch's book, "Winning".
Charalambos Vlachoutsicos recently wrote an excellent post “How to Fix the Bad Employee Syndrome” sharing what he did when he realized that nearly all of the employees were simply agreeing with what he and his father said all of the time. I highly recommend you read it.
I recently came across a powerful blog post by Steve Adubato titled Great Leaders Know How to Make Tough Decisions.
Amen. Yes they do.
This post snapped my head and thinking back into alignment.
How are you doing as a leader? Have you tried to make some changes in the last several years? How is that working out for you? Are you confused?
Today, I believe it is more difficult to lead than ever – especially if performance matters to you – both people and bottom line performance – especially if you are trying to be a “good leader” – especially if employee engagement matters to you. Today, more than ever, the “siren song” of “You must be this kind of leader… the nice kind – the kind that believes in employee engagement” is screaming loudly – not singing.
The latest management “thinking” is to involve everyone in every decision – to get people to like you – avoid confrontation and conflict – treat everyone equally.
I call that mediocrity and I admit I have succumbed at times.
Show me a post where the bottom line still matters. It is implied that the bottom line matters, folks. It is implied that if you do all of these nice things that the bottom line somehow somewhere will appear.
There are so many armchair quarterbacks out there who have never ever ran a business telling people like us how to run a company. I recently read a blog about “entrepreneurial leadership” with bad advice written by a person who has actually never started nor ran an actual company. I had to dig deep to figure that out.
Everyone is an “expert” on the internet. Be careful what you read and believe.
From Adubato’s article, he quotes General Colin Powell, “Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity. You’ll avoid the tough decisions, you’ll avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted and you’ll avoid offering differential rewards based on differential performance because some people might get upset.”
Personally, I have been challenged as a leader. My natural style is to be very direct, to the point, and bottom-line focused. Yes, I have always wanted to enroll others in my vision. Yes, I have always wanted to take my company and others that we advise to new heights of performance.
But I have waffled on important decisions in my effort to get consensus when I should have just made a damn decision.
Recently my friend and advisor Brent Patmos who counseled me, “Chris you must realize that equal is earned, not entitled.” I knew that Brent… I just recently forgot. Thank you for that powerful reminder.
I have gone too far in trying to engage others – to the point where I have crossed the “line” of losing my “leadership identity” by allowing some things to not be addressed – by inviting people to a dialogue they were unprepared for – by hoping to be liked more than I probably needed to be – by hoping that this team would be the best ever.
Have you lost your leadership identity – your leadership authenticity – your leadership voice? If so, it is time to take it back.
Please share below a time you had to make a decision that made your team members angry . . .
To read more of Colin Powell's "Lesson 1" from "Leadership Primer" check it out here.
Managing a sales team would be pretty easy if it were not for the "managing people" part . . . No one seeks to destroy the potential of their salespeople. However, sales managers, especially those who also function as a salesperson are so busy they can fail to make managing salespeople a priority.
We recently helped a Client hire a new salesperson. I will call the new salesperson Mary. She was hired with high expectations. She fit the job well, had industry experience, and was excited to do the job. Two months into the job, her sales manager was not happy. Mary had no clue she was underperforming. The hammer was about to drop on her and she did not know it.
There were three key things Mary's sales manager failed to do that destroyed her potential:
- Expectations were not set with Mary regarding day-to-day activity levels and short-term sales goals.
- Mary was not trained on the sales process. Instead, another salesperson did a "ride along," demonstrated his sales process, and then went back to his own territory.
- The sales manager's communication with her was limited while others on the sales team had almost daily interaction.
Have you seen or heard of this before? Unfortunately, what I am sharing is all-too-common.
All problems start at the head . . . If you know how to hire the right salesperson (If you do not know how, you better read this article that tells you how to.), but performance fails early on - you likely failed to manage and onboard the new salesperson properly.
Good salespeople want to know what is expected of them, be given feedback and direction, and they need encouragement.
"Sell as much as you can" is not a clear expectation.
Salespeople need a goal. The best salespeople are naturally competitive with others and with themselves. They need to know the standards that they are being measured against. Failure to set goals will result in lost motivation and lost opportunity. In Mary's case, her manager's expectation was to sell so much it creates a tax dilemna for the company.
"Sell as much as you can" is not a clear expectation - especially in a business with a short sales cycle and high sales volume.
If your company has a longer, more complex sales cycle, then day-to-day activities will serve as an immediate "barometer" for how well the salesperson is doing. What is done today leads to future sales.
Set activity and sales expectations so that the sales team member AND you know how well they are doing. The time to begin sharing expectations is during the interview process, during onboarding, and continuously throughout employment.
For example, do not discover that a remote salesperson is not prospecting adequately when you are reviewing expense reports like Mary's sales manager did. Stay ahead of poor performance by setting performance expectations and creating feedback loops.
Feedback and direction are critical.
All employees need feedback and direction - especially salespeople. The sales manager's job is to set expectations then offer feedback and direction on the team member's progress.
It is important to use a feedback process such as The Rainmaker 331 every two weeks for the first 60 days, then monthly or more frequently if needed for the duration of their employment. Mary's manager used our 331 process but not as frequently as needed. Recognizing when your salespeople need more or less feedback is important. When your salespeople do not meet expectations, you probably need to offer more feedback and direction.
You and your salespeople need to communicate - it goes both ways. Our 331 process facilitates the sharing of what is going well and not well from both of your perspectives.
Encouragement is important and personal.
“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Encourage your people - especially those you wish to keep and see grow. Keep in mind that encouragement is intensely personal. It is important to understand that behavioral and motivational differences determine what encourages them and how they prefer to receive encouragement. Do not assume the way you prefer to be encouraged, will work for others. Identify how each sales team member likes to be encouraged using a valid sales assessment.
Being a sales manager means you actually have to, well, manage your salespeople. This requires you set clear expectations and provide feedback, direction, and encouragement. You also need to recognize that some salespeople need more of your attention than others, especially when they are new to the team. Hire the right salespeople, manage effectively, and you will add to your bottom-line.
There is a scene in the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith where Brad Pitt's character drops the wine bottle and his wife catches it - without thinking. It was as if all her life she had waited for that bottle to drop and she caught it. No complaining - no blaming - no victim thinking. I love that scene.
The dropped ball is a metaphor for something that goes wrong. Crap happens. Taking care of a problem automatically depends upon the Personal Accountability of the individual - whether leader or subordinate.
What happens when the ball gets dropped on your team and in your company? Does someone else automatically catch it?
When the ball gets dropped (and hits the floor), what does it cost you and your bottom line? How does reduced or low Personal Accountability impact your Customer? Employee morale?
People want more Personal Accountability... From the many Culture Scans we have completed over the years, the one value that employee team members request again and again and again is you guessed it - Personal Accountability.
There is a duality of personal accountability in every organization.
Personal Accountability and you. How you model Personal Accountability as the CEO or senior leader becomes part of your brand (Tweet this!). If you do not use Personal Accountability, your employee team members will use you as an excuse - especially the weak ones. The weak ones will say, "The boss is not accountable, so why should I be?"
You may say, "I model Personal Accountability... I am accountable!" Perhaps you are. But pause for a moment and answer this question. Do you say things like, "I am so busy... I have so many competing interests for my time... You need to understand I am doing the best you can..."
I have said those things. As recently as a few days ago.
If you say - or even think the above, you have a Personal Accountability deficit. You are role modeling that excuses are allowed for you. And as soon as you allow excuses, you allow others to come up with their own excuses and ultimately - mediocrity.
Personal Accountability and each employee team member. How an employee team member models Personal Accountability becomes part of their brand. What you allow an employee team member to do or not do - becomes part of your personal brand. A strong employee team member - an asset will be accountable regardless of whether someone else is or is not - especially their boss.
Ultimately, as the CEO or senior manager / leader - the buck stops right at your feet. How your employee team members model Personal Accountability becomes part of the brand of your team, company, and ultimately your own personal brand.
Following are six practices you can implement immediately to improve personal accountability.
- Do what you say you will do. Powerful and simple. Just do it.
- Create a common language of Personal Accountability. The best way to do this is through a powerful training program in Personal Accountability. We offer the QBQ Personal Accountability Workshop.
- Model Personal Accountability constantly. Have others call you out when you are not modeling Personal Accountability. If you use an excuse, correct yourself.
- Talk about Personal Accountability constantly.
- Expect every employee team member to be a model of Personal Accountability. Do not allow a single team member to stray from the practice.
- Be candid about Personal Accountability. When someone drops the ball and the outcome does not reflect Personal Accountability - say something.
It is actually pretty easy to create a Culture of Personal Accountability. You just need to decide to do it and then do it. Every employee team member must be accountable - particularly you.
Loyal employees can be your greatest asset or, if you are not careful, one of your greatest challenges.
When a startup is born, it is often from humble beginnings like a garage or basement. After some initial success, there are resources available to bring on additional help. This additional help may be employees not previously known, friends, and/or family members.
The early days of a startup are difficult times for everyone. The hours are often incredibly long. The challenges faced can be emotionally and physically exhausting. During this time, loyalty and friendships are cemented.
If/when the business does well, as employees are added and the business model becomes more complex, the early employees often become managers and eventually this is where problems can begin.
As the business model becomes more complex, business owners often continue to “reward” their loyal employees by keeping them in management positions that are too big for them. Consultants are hired to shore up the problem. New employees are hired with industry experience and everyone knows when a manager is not fit for the job – particularly you.
I see this in pretty much all companies where a founder is present.
I had a Client several years ago that started from their garage with a couple of owners. Fast forward a decade and their business exploded into a little engine generating tens of millions in annual sales – yet they had the same loyal managers who had started with the company. They actually could have perhaps doubled their growth if only they had proper management.
I approached the CEO several times saying, “Your management is holding you back.” The response was always a quiet, “I know…”
He knew what he had to do but did not do it. As is often the case, the CEO did not have the ability to make a change so what did he and his co-owner do? They sold the company and put the problem on the shoulders of others who were capable of making the necessary change.
While the owners came out well, the loyal employees were thrust into new ownership with a lot of hard days ahead of them. There are serious consequences when leaders ignore their loyal employee problems. There is a high cost of doing nothing with loyal team member challenges, and these are the most common problematic situations that arise.
Their New Hat Does Not Fit
Loyalty should not qualify a team member for promotion to management . . . ever. While they may be great performer in the position they are in, some people just are not fit to manage others. Whenever you feel like a loyal employee's time has come for promotion, use an assessment to determine if they have the ability to do well in management. If you already promoted a loyal team member and he or she is not performing like they did before, realign their role at the company.
Change Is A Dirty Word
With growth, comes change. Often, loyal employees will be the first to resist this change. A former Client who worked in the dental field had a team member who had been with the company since his father started it. The team member was always on time and performed quite well. However, she was resistant to the constantly changing health standards and practices that occurred in dentistry. You would hear things from her like, "That is not how we used to do it." The change happened anyways, but it often caused conflict between the team member and other team members. The constant resistance not only slowed the change process down but also affected the morale of other team members. Sadly, the team member is still with the company and no action has been taken by managers to improve the situation.
Low Performance Becomes Invisible To You Only
As the classic song says sometimes you get, "Blinded by the light . . . " Your loyal employees have probably become very close to you - they may even be your best friend. This close relationship causes you to inherently protect the friendship and ignore performance. With any relationship, there is a purpose. If your loyal team member is also a very good friend, they are serving their purpose in your relationship, making the relationship feel fulfilled. However, it may cause you to ignore their true purpose - to provide you with quality work. They may think they are providing quality work when they are in fact, not doing so.
Go to any team, take a poll regarding who is or is not adding value on the team. Your team knows. There is no fooling them.
Unfortunately, I have "been there done that". I have had employees over the years who have not fit the role - but worked hard and were seemingly "loyal". Two things eventually made me do something - losing money and looking into the eyes of the rest of the team who knew I did not have the guts to make a change.
Make a change. Commit to a time line of 90 or 180 days (shorter is far, far better). Get your ducks in a row and stick with it.