Archives for category: Management

customer-service

In the sales world, ensuring that proper service, support & satisfaction levels exist requires consistent & frequent engagement with your customers, including any combination of the following tactics:

* the business’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is closely monitored by Sales Management to make certain that all the necessary activities are occurring, being updated and remain current

* the Sales Team is being challenged during weekly sales meetings for updates on key clients (a prudent method for monitoring any salesperson’s awareness with regard to the status of their customers)

* periodic customer surveys (either electronic or via phone, depending on the type of client base) should be administered to gauge current levels of satisfaction with regard to: responsiveness, delivery times, product quality and assortment, etc.; while further ascertaining details about any concerns

* random follow-up calls to customers conducted by Sales Managers in order to get instantaneous feedback with regard to their customer’s current needs & levels of satisfaction, as well as their Sales Team’s performance

* the aforementioned weekly sales meetings provide an obvious forum for the sales team to share examples of actual sales success stories and best-practices with regard to what is working with customers, and/or changes in the marketplace that should be addressed

Further, Sales Managers must provide periodic updates to their team providing  commentary on any recent “wins” or key findings. This additional information sharing can be utilized by your salesforce as part of their selling “toolbox.”

Importantly, sales success stories should be ideally spread throughout the entire organization, directed at creating a collaborative culture and spirit of camaraderie across the company.

Finally, from a brand enhancement perspective, customers should be solicited for testimonials about the company which can be utilized by the marketing team for promotion of the business (which also can be utilized to celebrate the sales team successes).

Why not conduct a self-assessment of your organization’s sales operation to validate that these activities are consistently occurring?  It couldn’t hurt!

sales-activity

During my experience of either managing multi-million dollar sales organizations or coaching and training businesses on how to improve their selling operations, there is one belief that I am convinced of:

“Activity Breeds Results.”

Whether it’s executing face-to-face visits, making outbound phone calls (i.e.“dialing for dollars” ), prospecting for new customers, proactively maintaining existing client relationships, or massive quote generation with timely follow-up, the “sales” people who create the most activity are the one’s who tend to be the superior producers.

An obvious performance management necessity for any selling organization is the establishment of quotas or targets, coupled with a reporting measurement mechanism that can “scoreboard” the results for all of the players on your sales team…on a daily basis.

Most businesses will have some form of a CRM (Customer relationship management) system to facilitate this tracking & reporting for their business.

Now here’s the key to actually optimizing this “activity notion”…

“Managed Activity Improves Results.”

Mix in a component of consistent daily performance management, including praising for successes while coaching on those down days, will tend to multiply those results!

In order to accelerate your organization’s selling momentum, promote massive activity and manage it accordingly.

success team

My previous blog responded to the question: “Do the best leaders surround themselves with great people, or do they help the people around them become great?” with the answer “both”.

Focusing on the second part of this question, here are 10 common denominators that I’ve observed which help people become great (or at least much better) at what they do:

  • EVERYONE understands the company’s Vision, Direction & Purpose
  • There are clearly defined roles and responsibilities for every person on the team
  • KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) and SLA’s (Service-Level Agreements) are established with each individual, and agreed to by both the manager & employee
  • Actual performance is measured against targets and “score-boarded” for all to see
  • Good results receive timely acknowledgement & praise
  • Poor results receive timely “coaching” for how to improve going forward
  • Employee strengths and opportunity areas are identified & understood
  • Strengths are exploited and areas for improvement reinforced
  • Ongoing growth & development within the organization is encouraged
  • Candid praise & constructive feedback occurs consistently with EVERYONE

Here’s a Leadership Challenge suggestion for you: review each of these 10 items and rate your business on a scale of 1 – 5, with 1 being poor & 5 being great.  Then, prioritize your opportunity areas for focused improvement based on the lowest scoring results.

 

In reference to a prior blog on “The Review”, this process is often challenging and ineffective in terms of generating the desired performance improvement that Managers are seeking.

The traditional performance appraisal reviews past performance, and is often an inaccurate reflection of true performance due to:

  • inadequate preparation or effort,
  • poor documentation or record keeping,
  • any number of biases.

I believe that what really matters to is to provide your employees with input that leads to the development of their skills, which ultimately benefits them personally as well as serving the organization’s future.

There is much discussion in HR circles about eliminating the annual or semi-annual review process altogether. Such a change should foster more frequent conversations and updates about an employee’s performance, which is what most workers want.

ConstantONGOING coaching and feedback is one of the keys toward achieving continuous employee growth and development.

I’m not saying micro-management, but rather taking the time to ensure that every employee:

  • understands the clear expectations surrounding their role and responsibilities,
  • knows where they stand in terms of their performance,
  • and has a vision of how to grow and improve.

feedback

Featured image

Years of experience in “enduring” the employee performance review process, coupled with facilitating many training sessions to client businesses on the topic, has validated one common denominator: the Managers and Employees alike involved in this ritual have a general, mutual dislike for this obligatory activity!

Performance management entails a desire to develop individuals who have the necessary competence to achieve organizational and individual objectives.

Performance reviews are one element of this development process, with the ultimate goal being for the employee to improve the quality and efficiency of their contributions to the organization.

If conducted properly, this will serve as a springboard for elevating that employee’s productivity and morale.

The frustration surrounding the review process typically arises from a combination of factors including:

  • seeing the procedure as a task versus a development opportunity
  • unclear expectations surrounding job responsibilities
  • insincere feedback or evaluations
  • poor preparation
  • lack of diligence in documenting ongoing performance
  • inconsistent communication
  • not caring!

Give this some thought during your next round of appraisals to consider if you can possibly yield more meaningful results that will benefit both you and your team.

Close Doors Coehlo

Personality assessments indicate that I am a driven and targeted individual, the type of person who tends to be more “task” oriented than “people” focused.

Folks like me tend to maintain a detailed task list…some form of grass catcher document that is potentially used to control our personal and professional life.  However, a challenge arises when our overachiever mindset creates a manuscript that neither Superman nor  Tony Robbins could get accomplished!

The essential component in making this tool an effective resource is to thoroughly review, and consequently prioritize, the activities that we are focused on accomplishing.  The process I’ve used for decades is the A,B,C,1,2,3 ranking method promoted by the likes of Day Timer and Steven Covey.

This philosophy prescribes that we must focus on the most urgent, important actions that will deliver the maximum benefit to ourselves, our business, our world.

The key is to discern between what’s truly important versus the trivial, and then have the self-discipline to concentrate one’s energy on those activities that will get you somewhere.

 

 

One of my favorite coaching areas is that of Attention Management (the artist formerly known as Time Management).

Time cannot truly be managed…there are 86,400 seconds in a day and once gone, you cannot recover them.  On the other hand, how you spend that time, your attention and focus,  can be proactively controlled given that proper personal disciplines and barriers have been established.

All to often, people spend their days hitting the ground running, operating in reactionary mode and being at the mercy of the world and people around them; instead of controlling their activities.

A surefire way to improve your effectiveness is to dedicate time to a daily action plan, either the night or early morning before your committed day starts.

Adding a quiet time or meditation period is a useful tool in this process.

Once you’ve created this daily strategy, draw upon your personal power to make every effort to stick to that plan, no matter what.  Sounds easy, does hard!

Further, ensure you include some time slots for handling the unscheduled interruptions that will come, regardless of the boundaries you’ve established!

Give it a try next week, and I’ll bet you’ll see an astonishing increase in productivity…not to mention that you’ll have less stress and feel better!!!

Plan your work

problems

Throughout my career, I’ve observed various strategies for “dealing” with problems, an essential function of leadership:

  1. avoid confronting it and hope the issue somehow goes away
  2. delegate to subordinates and assume they can fix the issue
  3. add the issue to an ominous to-do list and get to it based on priorities
  4. face the issue head-on, and promptly resolve it with appropriate intensity

Obviously, certain situations require greater responsiveness and urgency than others.  Regardless, if a situation falls into what you define as a “problem”, your role as a leader is to resolve it as quickly as possible.

Following the protocol outlined below will enable you to consistently address and resolve those “problems.”

  • Identify exactly where the core issue lies (people, process, etc.)
  • Quickly gather all pertinent facts
  • Determine possible solutions, using all available human resources
  • Select the optimal resolution, including who is best capable of handling it
  • Take immediate action
  • Evaluate and monitor to ensure proper resolution

Applying this formula to eliminate challenges will allow you to spend your energy proactively focused on the activties that can drive your business forward.

Recog

During a revisit of Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People, I was reminded of the importance of recognizing and praising other people.

A review of virtually any survey on why employees quit their organizations (or bosses!) reveals that the lack of praise, feedback and/or recognition is a consistent contributing cause for their departure.

Reflecting on past experience, I believe that leaders would do well to seize this opportunity and make ongoing recognition an essential part of their management toolbox.

And not just by email! Whenever possible, a face-to-face thank you and acknowledgement, or handwritten feedback, will typically be seen as much more meaningful by the recipient.

Some recognition checkpoints:

  • ensure the praise is very specific, citing exactly what the person did, and why it was beneficial to the team
  • it must be genuine and authentic
  • provide recognition as close to the action as possible…urgency is impactful
  • although praising in public is desired, be aware that a jealousy factor on the part of others might occur

Leadership challenge: are there opportunities for you to improve your reward and recognition efforts?

Confused EE

During my career, I’ve been involved with business environments where there was great concern about publicly sharing how the company was performing.

The underlying paranoia was that if “P&L” or strategic information was shared with employees of the organization, then that data might (would) somehow be used against the company by the competition.

My belief is that as a leader, whenever you attempt to conceal performance (or other essential) details from your team, that not only fosters an environment of distrust but further reduces employee engagement. A 2012 Forbes article noted that of engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave the organization than the disengaged.

In leading your team,  it is imperative that we take the next step beyond communicating visions, strategies and goals by candidly and consistently reporting how we are doing.  Not openly sharing performance results is akin to playing any sport with no scoreboard…why bother if we can’t determine who is winning?