( Part two of a ten part series which focuses on leadership skills and development).
A weightlifter attempting to lift 345lbs on the bench press asked me to “spot” him on the lift at the gym recently. For those that may not be aware, a spotter’s role is to assist the weightlifter but only if he/she is unable to accomplish the feat on their own. On this particular day, the weightlifter quickly lifted the weight off the rack, dropped the weight to his chest and then began to press the 345lbs upward steadily and slowly. His veins were protruding as he attempted to push the weight upwardly. When he was about 4 inches from the top of his lift, he no longer was able to lift the weight without my help. The weightlifter was extremely frustrated that he was unable to lift the weight entirely on his own without my aiding him. The frustrated, disappointed look on his face was one that indicated he was defeated and had failed utterly - until I raised my index finger and said, “dude I literally did not have to help you much at all. My assistance was comprised of helping you with this ONE finger. Next time brother you will get there, trust me!” A week later I watched as the weightlifter pressed 350 lbs – twice! It is unlikely the weightlifter got stronger in less than 7 days but based on the knowledge of how close it was during his last attempt the weightlifter was able to narrow the gap to achieve his goal.
"Repetition is the Mother of Skill"
- Tony Robbins
Let’s be honest not every sales rep you hire is going to make it. Sometimes they don’t have what it takes. Sometimes having the wrong person in the role is like Elton John on a John Deere tractor – it’s a bad fit!In those cases, you have to make a change for the good of the associate, the good of the team, your clients, and the entire organization. But what do you do about the salesperson who seems to be doing the right things yet is not achieving? Perhaps like the aforementioned weightlifter, the struggling salesperson simply needs reinforcement on what they are doing right, encouragement on what they are doing well and knowledge of how close they actually are towards achieving their goals. Too often bad bosses believe – that a manager is paid to drive results and if a salesperson fails to deliver results the salesperson should expect to beignored, or treated poorly until the salesperson either turns things around from a performance standpoint, leaves of their own free will or gets terminated.
Great leaders are acutely aware that results do matter, but they also make it a practice to highlight the positive things that the team member is doing. Great leaders believe in coaching their team members up & provide encouragement by highlighting what the associate has done correctly and where the associate excelled, during a project or sales cycle. Most importantly great leaders institute and monitor a process to the sale that includes structured steps and flexibility which empowers the salesperson to call an audible during the sales journey if needed. On the other hand, a bad boss equates encouragement with giving a trophy to everybody who participates. The bad boss also believes that rewarding only when results are achieved will instill an element of fear by which the bad boss can wield when necessary.
"There is Small Line Between being a Hero and an Idiot"
- Cowboy Proverb
The fallacy of the bad bosses belief is that the core tenets of success are often being practiced by both the successful high performer and the struggling sales executive. Many times during my sales management career both the successful or struggling would say the following attributes were important; work hard, work smart, make the calls, get in front of the customer, continue to learn, be bold, be creative, use your resource, know the client, understand the current market trends, know your product, close the deal, etc. Great leaders know that evaluation on what the struggling salesperson is doing well, will also, highlight their weak areas. Once the assessment is completedGreat leaders put a plan in place that combines 1:1 coaching, mentoring by high performing teammates & if needed specific training to strengthen the weak areas of the struggling performer. When bad bosses only care about results they are also unintentionally encouraging the salesperson to "skip many other necessary steps and just do whatever it takes to close the deal". This short sightedness will have an adverse impact on the customers buying experience, as well as, the individual and team morale. Great leaders know that there can be a fine line between success & failure, but they also realize that just like the weightlifter - sometimes the little things are the big things.
Leadership Principle # 2
Good Bosses, Leaders and Companies Coach, Mentor and Develop
This week select three of your employees and do the following:
1) * Evaluate what the individual does well
2) Personally, acknowledge to the associate what they are doing well today that, will continue to make a difference for their success, the success of a particular mission or goal and the company. Where are they truly gifted?
3) Invest in a 1:1 coach for the individual to assist in their growth
4) Hold the individual accountable for results
* Independent of a quarterly or annual review
I look forward to hearing your outcomes at firstname.lastname@example.org