Think Global, Act Global

Organisations are increasingly taking on a global feel. This newsletter will go to customers around the world, all of whom are facing issues of how to get the most from their people, how to organise themselves to perform better, and how to attract, grow and retain talented people.
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Yet very often different approaches are used in different countries, or even different regions or departments within the same country, not because local labour (labor!) laws require it, or even out of cultural sensitivity, but because that’s just the way it is and the HR teams responsible in each area want to run it their way.

Where HR teams really do think globally, and work together in cross national teams, real synergies are released in terms of greater efficiency, and improved best practice as great ideas are ‘stolen with pride’ and implemented across the organisation.

Trends in employee behaviour or legislative frameworks spotted in one region very often become global in an increasingly short period of time, so taking notice and taking action early can deliver real competitive advantage for employers.

The biggest advantage we’ve seen is the increasing mobility of all employees in global organisations, once they see HR leading the way. The development of high quality people for future leadership requires international exposure, and a culture of flexible global working with processes that are recognisable makes planning succession an exciting opportunity rather than a daunting task.

To talk about how you can start working more effectively as a European or Global HR team contact us.

A New Manager’s Guide to Leading a Team – (Part 2 – where does leadership fit in?)

Manager and Leader? Manager or Leader? Manager not Leader?

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Many organisations are over managed and under led? Why? Often, leadership is the stuff that gets squeezed out by all the ‘management’ requirements.

Part of the difficulty of leadership is that it is viewed as an attribute as well as an activity; this is the hoary old argument whether leaders are born or made. We have a seemingly banal view: it is both. Leaders can start with some very useful raw material, great interpersonal skills, physical presence, and lots of stamina, to name some, but just as critical is what they learn and develop for themselves.

Below are some of our views to inform your own leadership thinking:

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  • We believe leadership starts with self awareness. You can’t effectively lead (other than in the despotic sense) with huge blind spots. Self awareness brings personal insight, which facilitates the skills development of how to bring the best out of others.
  • Leadership is about giving a sense of real purpose to what people are doing. It sounds a bit ‘pink and fluffy’ but without meaning, people’s work simply becomes transactional. If you are trying to engage Generation X you’ll know the problem. An apparently highly committed individual of 25 decides that they are going to travel, or set up something for themselves, or asks you why they shouldn’t be cynical when they see what your plc has just done with its pension scheme. People are looking for more meaningful answers than ‘Get on with it’ or ‘The money’.
  • Leadership is not about being liked but being effective. It’s about getting things done and about taking a firm position on debatable decisions. Leaders have to stand for something. They are not judgemental of people, but of poor performance, low standards and flaky values.
  • At the same time, leadership is about being comfortable with ambiguity and paradox. Not everything can be resolved, not all issues reduced to this or that, right or wrong. The leader can cope with this. Where there isn’t clarity of solution they can at least bring clarity of problem, and realise that binary arguments are by definition win/lose ones. What about a tertiary point of view? Some typical seeming contradictions leaders are being asked to ‘find answers’ for include; short term profitability v medium term investment, valuing our people (as a belief) v making redundancies, and consulting the team whilst being fast and decisive.
  • Leadership is about being pro-active, using expertise that adds value to what’s currently going on. That doesn’t (necessarily) mean just functional expertise, the turbo charged version of what others have, i.e. the best technician, salesperson, rocket scientist etc, but the kind of expertise that often falls between the organisational cracks. Teambuilding, coaching, facilitating, planning, organising etc. Credibility is founded on having stuff you give others access to. Ask yourself ‘What can I bring to the team?’
  • Leaders don’t value traditional status signifiers, position, job title, corner office, car type; they value the status of contribution. They seek out and attach themselves to people who are creating things, getting things done and are prepared (as they are) to be accountable.
  • Leaders create an environment and atmosphere where ‘doing the right thing’ becomes implicitly understood and explicitly acted upon. Team members have a platform of values and behaviours to build up and out from, whether official leaders are present or not. This creates the self-managing team, one that doesn’t wait to be told what to do, but gets on with it. When managers complain that their people are too reactive, it says as much about the manager as it does about the team.

 

A New Manager’s Guide to Leading a Team – (Part 1 – Are you one of them or one of us?)

One of the most common discussion points from talking to managers on our corporate development programmes is around dealing with being ‘the meat in the sandwich’. They are under downward pressure to ‘get people performing’, ‘or to get things sorted’ and upward pressure to support their teams against the senior management ‘They’. ‘They’ cannot be serious; ‘They’ don’t really understand what’s going on etc.

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In this ‘organisational no mans land’ you as a manager need to be very careful about defining and managing your role. Are you one of ‘them’ or one of ‘us?’ Not maintaining a clear position can make you look incompetent to your superiors and/or weak to your teams.

  • How should you position yourself?
  • Change Management
  • Representing the company for good or bad

How should you position yourself?

Simply as a communication conduit seems one of the safest. At least this enables you to deal with any negative response by saying ‘hey don’t shoot me, I’m only the messenger’. The problem with this approach is it makes your role an essentially passive one. Management might as well have sent the change by email. When teams hear their leader pass on information in a way that absolves that leader of responsibility, you can bet you are not viewed as a leader, more like a corporate mouthpiece.

Change Management

The key question superiors have in their minds when they ask you to implement change is ‘Can you carry your team on this issue?’ There is a change in policy, strategy or tactics, ‘can you get your team quickly committed (not just compliant) to these new ways of working?’

If you are going to do more than pass on the information, the major mental hurdle you need to overcome is to do with integrity. Do you personally believe in this change of plan? If you do, that’s fine, you can then sell it with conviction, look your team in the eye and carry the argument. But what if you don’t believe in it? In this position it is critical that firstly you argue the case behind closed doors with your manager(s). If they can be persuaded to change, great, if not you have a judgement call to make. If it is something very serious to your personal value set where you believe the line has been crossed and you are compromised, then you may have to consider your position. More likely, it’s something you can live with, but disagree on. Now leadership must be demonstrated, you must sell it as if you are committed to it. Be prepared for the direct challenge ‘OK boss, we understand we have to do it, but can I ask (perhaps off the record), what do you really think of the idea?.’ An integrity test. Do you stay true to your personal feelings and (again perhaps off the record) tell your team what you really think? Or (with conviction) promote the company line?

Representing the company for good or bad

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Given the previously covered two points, you promote the company line. If you do anything else you will look weak. Siding with your team against the company line is always a bad idea in the medium term. You are representing the company for good or bad; as a manager that is what you are employed to do. Working hard behind the scenes to change things for the better is great, but with your team, whatever the outcome, you always support the line. When one manager in a client of ours worked hard at this but finally resigned over several large issues (one ethical), it came as no surprise to her team, not because she had been always joining their side of the argument, but because they knew she was a person of principle. This view developed not from somebody that always supported them, they often disagreed, but was somebody they ‘always trusted and respected’ – their words not ours.

It is not a manager’s job to be liked or to be feared, but to be effective. Effectiveness means success, and everybody likes being successful. When a manager delivers personal, team and company-wide success, from a values-based perspective, respect and credibility will follow.

If your team are clear about the way you behave towards them, what about your superiors? In our experience the way managers are treated is by no means uniform. Passive, survival based managers are given a lot less discretion than managers who always have a strongly argued point of view, based on a coherent approach to how they communicate with their teams. Realpolitik and values based leadership should not be viewed as mutually exclusive. Pragmatism and ethics can co-exist, as long as the manager has a clear perspective on where their ‘values line’ is. In dealing with managers, organisations (almost unconsciously) work out where that line is and respect it. This means the manager gets treated accordingly, as somebody that needs to be dealt with professionally, who will push back, but always will adopt company responsibility and be accountable for carrying their team. Somebody definitely worth having around.

Another thing the manager does is challenge the concept of ‘they’ or ‘the company’. This lazy behaviour is a way of displacing responsibility for what is going on. The first thing a manager would say to a team who talked in this way is, ‘please understand, I am one of the ‘they’, in the same way as you are too. Inclusiveness undermines low ownership, and encourages high accountability. We is where the mind-set should be focused.

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You cannot be the meat in the sandwich if there is no distinction between where the bread ends and the filling starts.

Where Have All The Sales Leaders Gone?

Many sales teams aren’t led but managed. Sales Directors, National Sales Managers & Field Sales Managers all need to occupy the leadership space, but many don’t, preferring to stand only on management ground. Below we explore the some of the reasons why sales leadership (and leaders) are not the visible force they should be:
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  1. Management status is valued above leadership. The badges of office (job title, car, expense account, for some even an actual office) are all about position not action. They say what somebody is, not what they do.
  2. Management is about outputs (usually the measurement of things, the analysing of data), very tangible things. Sales leadership is about inputs (motivating people to achieve things, giving people the confidence to try things, coaching people to perform better, and setting behavioural standards), much more intangible things. So organisations that value outputs over inputs will always create a managerial approach towards people.
  3. Successful selling is all about how people feel about themselves and the situation. Most selling goes on in clients premises, away from management’s eyes, and frequently done ‘solo’. This is compounded by the fact that selling, like golf, is mostly about moving to the next opportunity, thinking about what has just happened and what is about to happen and for a short concentrated moment doing the thing the game (job) is all about. Consequently feelings, esteem levels, mood, confidence and self-awareness are all critical success factors in making the most of the opportunity. It’s these things sales leaders focus on. They create and stimulate the mental platform for people to build success upon.
  4. You can’t lead any team (especially a sales team) without credibility. The problem is many sales mangers generate their credibility in the wrong way. They do it by being the best salesperson, indeed this might be the way they got promoted in the first place. This cul-de-sac is a place where many managers are seduced into going down, because it looks superficially attractive, being the hero of the hour, but it means to remain credible they have to remain the best in the team, preventing the recruitment/development of more capable people. In building a high performance team this is an unsustainable position. The sales leader obtains their credibility from the way they create the environment to perform (see previous point), develop people beyond their own expectations, and deliver futures that seemed unlikely, perhaps seemed even impossible a year or two previously. Having people working for you who are better technically than you is a sign of self-confidence, something all sales leaders have.

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If you focus on addressing these four areas and not falling into the trap of ‘just managing’ you can start to build a reputation as a sales leader.

The Modern Sales Professional’s Glossary of Competitive Advantage

These are some of the concepts that are helping the modern sales organisation effectively engage with their most demanding customers and prospects.
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Customer Value Proposition – The total offer as perceived by the customer. It’s the interdependencies and emphasis of the various elements that creates a unique CVP (or not). Salespeople, and the way they engage and add-value (or not) with customers are part of the CVP.

Procurement – A more sophisticated version of purchasing. Real procurement teams look at more than the price, poor ones don’t. The challenge for salespeople is to build Customer Equity (see below) with decision makers, turning procurement teams into order placers. For more on Procurement see this article.

Sales Strategy– The way the sales organisation intends to take the CVP(s) to market. This should be a sub-set of the Corporate Strategy. Like all good strategies it should vigorously discriminate, choosing only the options that will make its customer approach and engagement distinctive. Field based sales people are only part of the Sales strategy.

Wallet Share – The way a sales organisation calibrates the size and type of opportunity in each client. Analysing the actual, available and total Wallet Share is the insightful way to unlock customer potential. SalesPathways have a proprietary process for doing this click here .

Customer Equity – The amount and depth of knowledge, personal relationship and leverage the selling organisation has with a particular customer. The quality of customer equity is directly related to the opportunity and partnership potential of a target customer.

Customer Extranet – A place where a supplier can offer a customer a private space to view all the material connected to their relationship. The potential for adding additional value is significant, creating an additional service adding to the sellers CVP.

12 New Year Resolutions Any Self Respecting Sales Manager Should Follow

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  1. The worse the figures are the more you should analyse them (see how in point two). Avoiding bad news is never a good idea.
  2. The better your figures are the more you should assume it’s temporary. Try to identify the reasons why you are succeeding, try to see the reasons why and when it might change. Apply learning.
  3. However much time you spend in the field coaching and motivating, it’s unlikely to be enough. Do more.
  4. Obsess about the sales pipeline. Firstly make sure it’s robust in structure and process, then make sure enough is going in the top, and finally make sure the speed of progress and attrition rates throughout are acceptable.
  5. Do the maths. If you are doing point four, you can extrapolate your out-turn performance. Will it be where it needs to be?
  6. ‘An occupied seat is better than an empty seat’ institutionalises mediocrity. If someone is not good enough, change their performance or change the person. Underperforming salespeople keeping a role ‘warm’ is hopeless.
  7. If your Sales Director is asking better, more pertinent questions than you are, it’s time to up the pace and/or quality of your work. When a Sales Manager loses control of their own agenda they usually lose their job some months later.
  8. Makes friends with technology. If you (or your team) aren’t IT literate enough you will be at an unsustainable disadvantage. SalesPathways have a simple Microsoft literacy benchmark. Can you mail merge in Word®, animate in PowerPoint®, pivot in Excel® and rule-set in Outlook®? If you can, you’re MS literate.
  9. Simplify bonuses/incentives. More closely connect effort and reward. Learn the difference between ‘why work here’ money and ‘why work harder’ money.
  10. The ends justifies the means is very poor sales management. ‘As long as they do the numbers I’m not bothered what they are doing’, bears scrutiny for about two seconds before the poverty of insight and the absence of leadership becomes obvious. Understanding how and why salespeople perform is the key to improving their results.
  11. Balance individualism with teamwork. Peer group pressure is a major stimulus to high performance. Create some.
  12. Laugh more, at yourself in particular, you’ll seem more human.

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All Registered Trademarks acknowledged to Microsoft Inc.

 

What We’re Reading – Eat Your Peas


Title: Eat Your Peas
Author: Kes Gray
Publisher: Red Fox; New Ed edition (1 Jun 2001) ISBN: 0099404672
Price: £5.99
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At the start of the New Year people often take time to set themselves new objectives. People who have clear goals tend to be more successful, and those that write down their goals are proven to be more successful at achieving them than those who simply think them through.

People also find themselves setting goals and objectives with others. Whilst getting your employees to eat their peas is an unlikely goal setting experience, there is something to learn from this cheerful book about a vegetable challenging toddler. Managers often find themselves ‘agreeing’ goals with people that they simply don’t sign up to and have no hope or expectation of achieving. This is a pointless and demotivating exercise.

When working on goal setting with others what we can learn from ‘Eat Your Peas’ is that there’s no point in setting a goal that you wouldn’t agree to in the employees place, and that no amount of bonus incentive will motivate someone to a goal they see no benefit in.

If you’d like some help in better understanding and articulating your organisation’s goals and how to bring them to life for individuals contact us.

Starting The Year Right

In January people tend to think through their learning and development plans for the year. The danger is that the people who look after learning and development for their organisations find themselves responding to the same old training needs. They can either do more of the same or, as is often the case, simply look for a newly packaged way of delivering the same thing. Unfortunately, by delivering the same solutions people will end up with the same outcomes.

A more successful approach is to think about the learning framework, focussing less on the training and more on what the organisation needs from its people, and what they need from it.

Designing learning around what’s important to the organisation and makes far more sense than designing it around what the training department feels comfortable with and participants ask for because they know that other people have been through the same programmes.

Real results from learning come when people are involved and engaged with their learning, seeing a real link between any training they do and their objectives, their appraisal, their employability and most importantly their long term success. Participants who can contribute to the organisation’s learning and help to define what’s needed for themselves for the future demonstrate real commitment not only to learning, but also to the organisation.

We can help your organisation get off the training roundabout and onto a real learning journey with your own learning academy. To find out more contact us.

Managing The Staff Appraisals

The beginning of the year is normally the time when companies are in the process of reviewing the staff. If handled correctly, regular staff appraisals will make a major contribution to keeping staff interested in their work, committed and motivated. Here are our top 6 MUST and MUST NOT:
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1. EVALUATE WORK PERFORMANCE:
Must: Provide appropriate support and guidance to the appraisee.
Must Not: Be overprotective and create dependency on the part of the appraisee.

2. ACKNOWLEDGE CONTRIBUTION:
Must: Assess what people DO or are not doing, i.e. behaviour and performance.
Must Not: Attempt to restructure individuals personality, i.e. what they ARE.

3. IDENTIFY STRENGTHS:
Must: Deal with issues that are within the scope of the appraisal and the authority of the appraiser.
Must Not: Broaden the appraisal into a general discussion without appropriate focus.

4. IDENTIFY DEVELOPMENT NEEDS:
Must: Discuss the appraisee, the appraisee’s job and their aspirations.
Must Not: Discuss third parties.

5. ASSESS POTENTIAL:
Must: Plan ahead, agree objectives, targets and goals.
Must Not: Apportion blame, attack or generalise.

6. AGREE FUTURE DEVELOPMENT:
Must: Build on and enhance relationships and plan to improve performance.
Must Not: Demonstrate a lack of commitment to the process.
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For those Managers and supervisors on first appointment or those who have been managing for a while with no formal training this may be a daunting experience! Structured Training’s Fundamentals of Management programme will address the range of competencies required by a 21st century manager at the advanced level. These give the manager a clear view of the responsibilities and requirements of a management role as well as a sound understanding of how their behaviour sets the tone and pace for their team.

Selling Styles – Which One Are You?

9/1 The Pressure Seller:
The main concern of a 9/1 Seller is to get the business, and the customer’s attitude is of secondary importance to this selling style in gaining this objective.They are achievement orientated, proving themselves through high performance. Their sales approach is forceful, and requires the Seller to do most of the talking. They are happiest selling quick turnover goods in non-repeat markets.

1/9 The Customers’ Friend:
The 1/9 Seller believes that if the customer likes and respects the salesperson, and if the product is right, then the order will almost certainly follow. They are sensitive to human relationships, and are primarily motivated by a desire to be liked and to gain approval – and hence avoid rejection. They are good at servicing regular customers, particularly those they like.

1/1 The Order Taker:
The 1/1 Seller appears to have lost interest in active selling, or in the customers themselves. They exist by putting in the minimum of effort to achieve the minimum results that the company will regard as adequate or acceptable. Their aim is survival, and they believe that the buyer must make his own purchasing decision. They may even appear to be quite successful in handling captive accounts, where there is a clear need for the product, and there is little competition.

5/5 The Method Seller:
Although the 5/5 Seller does not seek the highest objectives, they will do a sound job by following established methods of selling and administration routines, with a workable mix of concern for the customer and for the sale. They are competent and reliable in handling new or existing accounts, and may be quite self confident when all is going according to plan.

9/9 The Problem Solver:
The 9/9 Seller places great emphasis on determining the customers’ needs before applying any knowledge of the product and applications. They will seek out new ideas, and listen to all opinions and attitudes which are different from their own. They possess many of the 5/5 characteristics – plus an open and enquiring mind.

Which one would you say best describes you? To find out more about how to develop your selling skills to an even higher professional standard why not attend our Selling… Developing Your Sales Experience.

Structured Solution Selling, or S3™, is a process developed by Structured Training to help sales people deal professionally with more complex or sophisticated sales in today’s ever-changing sales environment. It defines a methodology to guide people through the steps of a successful sale. All Structured Training’s sales courses are underpinned with the S3™ process.

For more information contact us.