Motivation

Who are you dealing with?

Image: Mark Howard

Image: Mark Howard

The first step in leading

You’ve just been promoted. You’ve obviously done well and got some runs on the board. You’ve got talent, charisma, and presence. Or maybe you are like me – pure hard graft.

But, now you’re in a position of leadership. You’re a manager. This means you have people reporting to you, or that you are now responsible for a territory of business (ie. An Account Manager). Either way, you are now a leader.

What is the first step? What is the critical thing you need to know? We immediately default to the numbers, the strategy, and the processes. These are all important. But they are only important to you and your boss. It’s a great way to turn the ‘people that matter’ off (beautifully explored by Liz Ryan, Forbes 2016).

Recently, I listened to an interview with Michael Vaughan, the Ex-English Cricket Captain on one of my favourite podcasts, The Howie Games. He described the experience of beating the best team in the world (Australia) to win the Ashes in 2005. An amazing story.

A young leader, Michael Vaughan, celebrates with his team mates after beating one of the best cricket teams to ever play the game in 2005.

A young leader, Michael Vaughan, celebrates with his team mates after beating one of the best cricket teams to ever play the game in 2005.

There was one message that stood out – the advice his dad gave him about leading. He said:

“If you’re going to be a leader, you need to know who you’re leading”

There is real genius in this. If you don’t know the people you are working with, how are you going to motivate and inspire them? How are you going to effectively perform together? How are you going to progress everyone’s business?

The key is to really get to know them. Not just be friendly. By seeking pure understanding of their wants, needs, aspirations, and abilities you’ll be able to make clean and clear decisions. You’ll be able to give effective directions. This is a base for building a cadence of cycles into your workflow that serves those around you in a devastatingly productive way.

A great way to start, don’t you think?

P.S. Seasoned Leaders – if you haven’t done this and you want to make your life easier, it is never too late to listen to Michael Vaughan’s Dad.

Want to learn more about being an effective leader? Go to paulfarina.com.au

Bring the light in the dark of winter

shane-lowry-claret jug.jpg

Energising ourselves and our customers in the darkest time of the year

This week in the golfing world, we saw Shane Lowry win The Open in Northern Ireland. This is one of the most prestigious and important golf tournaments in the calendar year. Lowry, from the Republic of Ireland was cheered and celebrated by the locals as he maintained his lead during shocking weather while his rivals capitulated in the high winds, rain, and generally miserable conditions.

Lowry managed to regulate his own emotions under the pressure, keep things simple, and execute during the terrible weather. It was a great achievement. And, in an era of ultra-professionalism, it was this beer drinking, happy-go-lucky, family man that was able to become the Champion Golfer of the Year.

The twittersphere has gone mad on this story in golf circles. This little clip said it all (warning: explicit language!)

 The imagery of Rory Mclroy (the Northern Irishman, who was playing on his home course during The Open, but failed miserably) is seen waking up early, hitting the gym, and practicing like mad. This is contrasted to Lowry celebrating with a pint in a pub. It’s good for a giggle, but in my world,  there is a noticeable lesson here.

Lowry celebrating his win in the pub with his mates and a bunch of locals. Fun isn't dead in professional sport, but is it dead in our professional setting?

Lowry celebrating his win in the pub with his mates and a bunch of locals. Fun isn't dead in professional sport, but is it dead in our professional setting?

In the winter months it is tough to keep energy levels up. It is even tougher to keep our customers and teams engaged.

A recent study suggested that six out of 10 of us suffer from lowered moods and motivation in the winter months. Being able to keep our energy up, and that of our customers is critical as this effects business results. I have personally found that appointment cancellations almost double during the winter months.

Shane Lowry certainly does the work. There is no way he could compete in the ultra-competitive world of Professional Golf if he didn’t. But he also has fun. He brings sunshine into the room. He has a positive energy and a humility about him. And, most of all, he doesn’t take the job or himself too seriously. Often, this attitude can be mistaken for not caring. But, if we can keep things light, while doing the work, we will boost the mood, motivation, and engagement of those around us.

Making the Impossible Do’able

Fear 1.jpg

The practical approach to steep objectives

Growing up in the 90’s in the Adelaide Hills the rest of the world felt a long way away. New discoveries, geniuses, and game changing break throughs seemed to always happen in exotic places a long way away. Nothing of gravity seemed to come from anywhere near me. Layer with this the apathy that came with being a teenager during the Grunge movement and the result was an attitude of impossible. When I grew up and travelled around the world, I quickly realised that people everywhere were normal people like us. They were not extra special, more talented, or cleverer.

It was an eye opener – I have the right to do brilliant things as much as anyone from Geneva, New York, or Oslo.

Grunge - full of angst and apathy

Grunge - full of angst and apathy

She had no right 1

We have recently seen countless examples of people achieving the seemingly impossible. Since writing about Ash Barty’s amazing major win (Ash the quitter), she has gone to number one in the world! We all thought it was impossible that any Aussie would climb to the peak of the mountain. Our tennis system that was apparently devoid of talent, money, and unity – Ash made a mockery of this assumption.

Ash wins the Birmingham Classic to become the World’s Number 1 Female Tennis Player

Ash wins the Birmingham Classic to become the World’s Number 1 Female Tennis Player

She had no right 2

Hannah Green, ranked 114th in the world, rolled up to Hazeltine (Minnesota USA), for the PGA Championship Major Tournament. Green went wire-to-wire (led all the way through the tournament) to win one of the toughest tournaments in the year. Green had no right to win in the minds of the “experts”. But she did. Game changing.

Sitting outside the top 100 ranked players, Hannah Green had no right to win a major tournament

Sitting outside the top 100 ranked players, Hannah Green had no right to win a major tournament

They had no right

In 2016, Leicester City Football Club (soccer) did the un-do’able. They won the Premier League. In an era where only the richest clubs win, this little club won matches. And kept winning. And won until there were no games left. It will always go down as one of the biggest anomalies ever seen in world sport. They were 5000-1 odds (NBC, In a league of their own). I am not a betting man, but I know that these are some of the longest odds in a comparable situation.

Still hard to believe. They didn’t have the resources, the squad, or the pedigree. But they did it. They achieved the impossible.

Still hard to believe. They didn’t have the resources, the squad, or the pedigree. But they did it. They achieved the impossible.

I could write for pages about such stories. And I draw on sport, because it is such a transparent workplace. Everything the leaders, players, and communities do is on show. We get great coverage and insights into what people are doing and how they do it. I feel that sporting stories relate directly to our own lives and workplaces where clear learnings we can be practically used.

This week, I shared an article by Francesco Gino on LinkedIn, written for Harvard Business Review (why curiosity matters). I am a big fan of Gino’s work on Rule Breaking. One statistic from Gino’s HBR article smacked me in the face:

70% of people she surveyed were scared to ask more questions in their workplace.

This is an alarmingly high number, but one I can understand. I am seen as an extravert with a big mouth, but I can often find myself afraid of asking questions from fear of looking dumb, even within a trusted environment of people. So, if we are afraid of asking questions, then it is no wonder that when faced with steep objectives we immediately feel they are unobtainable. How dare we question our assumptions that it is too hard?

Business Battle Lines have been drawn. Higher Up’s have laid out their strategies and they are dealing out the numbers they want to see achieved. Clients and competitors have done the same. If you are saying to yourself “that’s impossible”, then you are not alone (see my previous article on this; Tell em their dreaming). It is a natural response. But, you are also wrong. It is incorrect that ‘unrealistic targets’ are not achievable. They are. It just takes asking a few extra questions.

Jordan Peterson.jpg

Starting with the mindset that your objectives are achievable is the first step.

Secondly, throw out the rule book. We discuss Audacity as one of the critical Behaviours That Matter in my programs. A part of this is separating ourselves from what we did. The controversial author, Jordan Peterson writes “the past is dead” in his book The 12 Rules of Life. Peterson is referring to the fact that what has happened cannot be changed as apposed to the future, which is still completely malleable.

The third step is implementation. What are the habitual behaviours you can set in motion now? The first one I would suggest is to set yourself to ask more questions. Inspired by Gino’s work, we can take that extra moment to discuss, question, and go deeper into what is happening, why it is happening, and how can it happen better?

Along with remembering the feats of Barty, Green, and Leicester City we can set ourselves up to not only achieve the impossible, but set ourselves up to establish a new benchmark that could not have been imagined.

 

Learn more about Audacity and the HAT Competencies here.

How to do Negative

It’s one that can make us squirm more than Stephen King’s last horror story. You know, that chat you need to have with one of your direct reports where you have to point out a big fat negative in their work. Why is it so hard? I’ll tell you why….

  1. You hate the fact that you always have to be the bad guy.
  2. You can’t believe they have made the mistake after you clearly told them how to do it correctly.
  3. You are a nice person. They are a nice person. I don’t want to hurt their feelings.

Giving bad feedback is not an easy thing to do. If anyone says that they find this easy, they are either lying, or maybe they enjoy it a little bit too much. I am guessing you are neither.

No, giving negative feedback is a hard thing to do well as you are potentially hurting your relationship with the person in question, or you are disrupting the positive culture you are trying to create. There are so many aspects of this conversation that can go wrong, and that is never an easy situation to manage. But, there is a big BUT (that didn’t quite come out right… Anyway, here it comes.

BUT, being able to give negative feedback well is an absolutely critical aspect to being able to manage a team well. This is one of the key tools that you need to use to be able to build ability and confidence in your team. There are other great benefits including building trust and increasing closeness in a relationship. Here are some ideas on how to get better at delivering a negative.

  1. Earlier the better – delaying your feedback will reduce the effectiveness of your conversation. Details will be hard to remember, and the person will be less receptive. The term nip-it-in-the-bud can be utilised here. This also stops feelings festering inside of you which can build tension and increases the likelihood of the negative feedback becoming emotionally charged. Giving the feedback swiftly is the best way to go.
  2. Ask instead of tell – Allowing for self-assessment can be a great way to instil learning in the situation and disarm any backlash from the feedback. I find that if I point out faults all the time, it can beat people down, and then as the manager you can labelled as a tyrant. Instead, get the person to do a self-evaluation by asking them “what is out of place with this/what you did/how this turned out” or “how could have this been done better” or “I can spot a problem with this. Can you see it?”. This invites discussion, and gives the person a chance to figure it out themselves, rather than being told what they did was incorrect. It is a great way to turn a potentially negative conversation into a positive one.
  3. Specifics are critical – when giving negative feedback you will cause yourself a world of pain if you are being vague and inattentive. There is a lot of room for misinterpretation, misunderstanding, and confusion. We want to avoid all of these at the best of times. Critically when someone is completing a task poorly using details and examples is essential so be sure to have your facts straight. Preparation is your friend, as per any management discussion.

There are many more tools and ways of delivering negative feedback, but I feel that these are a good start.

One common requirement that needs to be used with any technique in this situation. It is acknowledging THE WAY we deliver our feedback is more important that what we actually say. So be sure to be respectful, keep the feedback as private as possible (no public shaming), and use an appropriate tone.

A positive intension will carry you through most of these important conversations, and like many things – the more you do it, the better you will become at it.

How to turn a bunch of dysfunctional individuals into a Dream Team

Yesterday, I had a training session with a client of mine. He was struggling with communicating his marketing and sales objectives to his team. Mainly because they are all different, and on their own agendas. Sound familiar…?

It struck me that this topic is very common, so I thought I would share a few key points I use to turn this scenario into an advantage.

Difference equals diversity, and this is a great base for a great team.

In team sport, you can’t have the same type of player across the whole field. Eleven Lionel Messi’s sounds mouth-watering, but who is going to lay the tough tackles, or be the huge presence in goal? What about the emotional side? If you have eleven stars, then how are they all going to get the limelight? They would rip each other apart within the first few weeks of a season!

Whenever I have taken over a team with large diversity, I have seen the disconnects and range of talents as an opportunity rather than a horrible stress.

No matter what the scenario, these same steps can be used to great effect:

1. Start with you, and what you need to do – Before giving direction to any group of people the manager needs to be crystal clear on what they are trying to achieve. An obvious start is with commercial goals, sales targets, and particular brand focuses important to the business in the next six to 12 months. Also, think about the customer experience that your brand is trying to achieve. Or, what you are setting out to achieve in your role over the next 12-24 months? Goals can come in many forms, but before any direction is given to the team, these goals must be set into SMART goal language.

 

2. What is their story? It is common to take employees out for a coffee or lunch and get to know them. Check in on them. Tell them about yourself. This is all very nice, but there are key points to cover here and one must always be prepared with an agenda, even when the tone of the catch-up is largely informal. Key areas to understand with each individual are:

a. What have they done (some info on their past)

b. What do they need and want now (both personally and professionally can be relevant, as well as physical and emotional)

c. What do they want to do/achieve/learn/gain in the next 12 months?

Let the conversation flow. Be curious. Get a full picture of the person.

3. Divide and Conquer – I know it sounds a little over the top, but this is one of the biggest mistakes I see seasoned (and junior) managers make with their team. If any of us try and set out new directives in a team environment with no warning or consultation, there is HUGE risk of Mutiny.

It is not a risk worth taking.

Investing some time into consulting each individual with what we want them to focus on is going to be a very powerful and positive discussion. Give context within the larger project that you want them to contribute to (i.e. set the vision). Highlight how this leverages their strengths, and gives them exposure to the things they want to learn and develop.

Also, be willing to be flexible and listen to any changes the person thinks would make the directive better. There is no need to be stubborn, or to set everything in concrete. In fact, the more that it seems like their idea, the more buy-in you will get to the overall strategy. WIN-WIN! Whatever happens, come to an agreement with each individual. Set the expectation clearly, and get ready to move to the next step.

4. Turn the troops into Lieutenants – No one wants to be a number. A part of the pack. A worker bee. It’s not fun. Turn your beautiful bunch of misfits into leaders. Each one of them will be a specialist, a department manager, an owner of a task or key element of the business. They can have a title. They can have status. They can lead the discussion, or give education, or command a section of the team meetings. It always astounds me how much people step up when given extra responsibility. An opportunity to contribute can be more valuable than cold hard cash to many of us. This is a great strategy for tapping into the wants and needs of the individuals while aligning this with the overall business goals that need to be achieved.

5. Round them up and take off – Now is the time to get the group together and openly talk about the new directives, what everyone’s role is going to be, and how progress is going to be tracked. As there are no surprises because of the individual meetings, the team will be ready to advocate the changes you are discussing. All the processes and systems can be made clear, trained in, and discussed. The initial meeting will provide a platform to gain momentum and buy-in from the group. This is built-on even further, again-and-again in future meetings.

 

I love under-performing, unfashionable, even rebellious retail teams. I love working with them, and turning them into monster success stories. Having said this, I know it’s tough. There are the big characters that aggressively push against your authority. Then there are the unmotivated “clock punchers” that seem impossible to talk to. Or the passive-aggressive’s. Maybe you have the “been there, done that” veterans that aren’t open to change. Or the young-hot-shot-know-it-all that is getting under everyone’s skin. It seems like every team has the hard-working unsung hero too, which can sometimes be harder to manage than it may seem.

Too often, these tough teams become a burden. They can fill us with dread and even despair. I get it – I’ve been there many times before. But, with a good solid plan, some determination, and a sprinkle of patience, these “Motley-Crews” can be turned into teams we love to work with that also deliver.

What are we so scared of?

THE DILEMMA WE PUT OURSELVES IN WHEN WE PERCEIVE THREAT INSTEAD OF POSSIBILITY

It was an important meeting. A meeting that would be the beginning of beautiful and important things. We would hatch fun and creative plans together. We would make an impact on the community. We would grow our businesses. The limits were endless.

We would talk all things of mutual benefit. Quoting big numbers, and breaking them down into practical milestones, and then into bite sized chunks we could then divvy up and assign to each other. Then, we would have further meetings, do work with each other, plan events, continue to build our relationship, and build a new world. A world of laughter. A world of success. A world of joy.

But alas, this is the meeting that never happened. It is the possibly that was shut down within minutes when the fear got in the way.

The fear of people stealing from us. The fear of people using us. The fear of being sold to. The fear of getting the raw deal. The fear of being inferior. The fear of failure. The fear of success.

Maybe it is all of these things, or maybe what has been proposed to us just isn’t interesting. It is not compelling. It is not useful, or of value.

This situation is such a tough one to crack. When working with other businesses (B2B), it astounds me how much push back there is to enthusiasm. When a small business, or a solopreneur approaches another business to do some simple cross-promotion, or to join in a partnership of some description, there seems to be a fear, or a scepticism that is stronger than any other force. But why? What is this fear? Where does it comes from?

The answer to this is probably quite complex. There are perhaps Ted Talks and Harvard Business Review articles proclaiming to tell us the core of this phenomenon. But of interest to me is the sheer volume of people that can’t see a good deal in front of them when they see it. The definition of strong business to me is strong community.

If I can help my next-door neighbour be a stronger business then that is good for me. If I can help my industry be stronger then that is good for me. Isn’t it?

The need to rid our instincts of fear is vital. The only way forward is to be brave. Be bold. Listen to offers. Be willing to be sold to. Be open to doing something new or different. Be ready to put a little extra effort in to try something new out.

This does not mean that the rules are off and a free-for-all is now the norm. No. All business decisions need to be analysed and every opportunity still needs to be deconstructed for fit and purpose. But, instead of rubbishing an idea, or an activity straight up, we need to propose ways we can do something. How about, we ask “how can this work?”

It is amazing where this sort of thinking can take us. It can even take us to a point where we realise that the person sitting opposite us cannot help us at this time, and we cannot help them. By exploring possibility and investigating the up-side, we can even say no, and shake hands with genuine pleasure and friendliness. Yes – it is possible!

We hear of luck in business a lot. We all need a little bit of luck along the way, right? This is countered by the argument that hard work and persistence brings more opportunity and therefore more luck. I feel that this sort of argument is bogged down by semantics. The core of it is that there are multiple opportunities which come to us every day. Opportunities to grow our business. Opportunities to answer our needs and help us smash through our obstacles.

The question is, will you let that fear drive your actions, or will you ask, “how can this work?”

I hope you do. It will most likely open many doors that were not there before. Just like magic. It’s exciting. Join the party.

The Value of Home - Turning Newbies into Leaders

The induction. Talk to any HR Professional and they will advocate a well-structured and comprehensive induction for all new employees. Some of us do it well, some do it poorly, or sometimes not at all depending on resources, circumstance, and our individual business culture. But, what can we do (no matter what) to increase the chances of a new employee becoming a long-term success?

In a time when Culture is King, many are grappling with how to translate culture into practical commercial success that is both meaningful and sustainable. It can quickly turn into a buzzword-centric topic which is forgotten completely in day-to-day interactions with peers and customers a-like.

The answer seems to reside in the value of making people feel safe and “at home” right from the start. This is a powerful trigger every single leader in a business can utilise to gain long term performance and loyalty out of new employees (and seasoned ones too!)

Daniel Coyle details an experiment in his book, The Culture Code. Coyle discusses an Indian Call Centre called WIPRO that was experiencing costly staff attrition rates. They took a group of new recruits and simply spent one-hour talking to them about their individual needs to perform better. They also gave them a WIPRO shirt with their own name on it. They found that the people in this group were 250% more likely to still be at the company seven months later compared to those that did not have the “one-hour chat”.

This demonstrated that people valued being treated as an individual and being heard from the start of their employment. It displayed that a business must show that they are there to “Serve You” just as much as the employee is there to “Serve Us”. The results spoke for themselves with staff serving longer and at a better performance level in a notoriously high-turnover environment.

When we feel at home, we feel safe. And when we feel safe our concentration levels are elevated due to less distraction and wariness. It’s like your first day at kindergarten – it’s a scary day with lots of anxiety. But if the teaching assistant relaxes you with warmth, attention, and care then it can turn out to be the best fun you’ve ever had.

Recently, I was struck by this idea when watching a Friday Night AFL match between Sydney and Hawthorn at the MCG. It was a cold wet night where Sydney won in a very close contest. The story of the night was that of Ben Ronke. In his third game, this little fresh-faced recruit kicked a game winning 7 goals and made 10 tackles – a new all-time record for the league. Not only is it almost unheard of for a small-forward to kick this many goals in a game, but no one had ever statistically done this in the history of the league!

The impressive part was in the post-match interview. Ronke was asked “What is it about this club that keeps producing such great young talent?”

He responded by saying “It comes down to the Leadership group, and even the up-and-coming leaders. You go to the club and you just feel at home straight away. They make you feel like you’re at home. That takes the pressure off of you and makes you feel comfortable, and with the support of the older boys – it goes a long way”

Wow! In a moment of pure honesty, this young athlete summed it up beautifully.

If we don’t invest individual effort into an employee we run the risk that they will merely exist in their role, and there is only a small chance of them becoming long term successful performers. To take this further, when a recruit is made to feel comfortable, but without an individualised approach then performance will ease off very quickly and revert to a relaxation mode. This is not sustainable either.

Leaders that show even the smallest of gestures that the business is there to serve the employee as much as the other way around, create an experience that is both comfortable and inspiring. This becomes a potent combination feeding the feelings of belonging. In turn, this creates performers that not only excel, but do it for a long time to come.

 

Inspire Me!!!

I have worked in the commercial side of business for most of my career. It was my job to sell the products or services, to track the results against targets, and to ensure customer service levels were of a consistently high quality. This initially taught me to know my numbers well, and to have a tight rein on my processes and costs. Then I started to discover that the people I was in charge of didn’t just do what I needed them to do, and they required all sorts of support. Stuff that I though only friends, and family, and spouses were there for. I mean, why do I need to be the shoulder to cry on? Why am I the one that needs to re-arrange things for their mum’s birthday? It was a long hard road, but I finally clicked that the people side of things was so much more important than the numbers, and a good mix of both meant that results started to follow. But then, to my surprise I found that there was another level. That to get the best results out of my people, and to achieve the business goals set, there was another frontier. Another element that needed to be considered. It smashed me in the face (not literally) one day out of nowhere.

I was in a National Management Meeting when the National Education Manager of our brand was discussing upcoming activity. He explained that there was to be a distinct direction that the next phase of training would take for our brand. It was all commercially minded and related directly to product. As a man steeped in the arts of sales and marketing I should have been dancing on the table after hearing this news. However, I will never forget what happened next. The Education Manager told us that this practical and commercially minded activity would be the best way to spend our company’s education budget as “Inspiration never put money in the till”.

It is at this precise moment that I had a flash of clarity. One of those out-of-body-experiences. I couldn’t believe it. My jaw dropped.

I found this comment astounding. Was I really hearing this? Did this person truly believe what they were saying?

I was speechless at the time, but I will forever be thankful for that day as it is a constant reminder to me of the direct link between how business results are achieved (almost always through people) and one’s ability to be inspired (or inspiring for that matter).

When I look at a business operation trying to overcome obstacles I appraise the owner/manager’s role and that of their staff. Often there is weariness. A tiredness. A lethargy. With this it is common to see a breakdown in communication and a stress on relationships as profitability is lowered and revenue results are below desired targets. When faced with this type of scenario we must acknowledge that there is a lack of inspiration within the business. So, what is inspiration?

Inspiration is something we cannot always touch, but most of the time we can feel it. It lifts our mood, lifts our energy levels, and increases our ability to focus on the key tasks that will drive results.

Inspiration usually comes in the form of new information, new knowledge, new imagery, new techniques, success stories, creativity stories, and beautiful meaningful words. It is helpful to ask ourselves some key questions regarding inspiration within our business:

  1. What inspires my people? As individuals and as a group.
  2. How often do I provide my team with sources of inspiration?
  3. How can I measure the effect of inspirational activities? Some may not be measurable, but most are.
  4. Where can I find inspiration myself?

This is a good starting point for analysing the current state of inspiration within your business, and to then start activating some inspirational initiatives.

Some good ideas to get started:

Team Meetings – schedule them regularly (once a month or quarter) and be sure to share inspirational stories from within the organisation, or from leaders in your industry or from any area of life.

Branding – what does your business stand for, and what is special about your business? Ensure this is displayed in your logo, mottos, and mission statements. Then plaster this all over the walls of where your people work. There is a reason why big corporations do this – it influences the mindset of the employees and instils pride.

Education – a consistent schedule of education for employees. Research courses, seminars, webinars, or activities that serve a purpose for an individual that will push them forward in their work. By paying for their time to do this, as well as paying for the chosen activity you will gain a huge amount of respect and loyalty from your team also. Make sure there is a distinct point to whatever you choose. Discuss it, agree it, and follow up with the employee to gain maximum value.

New’ness – the human condition is attracted to “new” in most contexts. Inspire your team (and customers) with new anything. It may be product, tools, processes, upgrades, marketing. Anything that surprises the team in a positive way and keeps things fresh.

 Connection – any opportunity to have a conversation. It doesn’t cost much, but it takes Want and a Desire to take some time out and relate with each other. I find that this is the best tool to inspire inspiration (so to speak). It is also almost completely free.

What other ways could you inspire yourself and your team? It is a great question to ask. I am completely convinced that inspiration puts money in the till and so much more! I am certain of it.

My people hate selling! My 5 Tips for teams to start to LOVE Selling

Selling can be a dirty word in some workplaces. I’ve been in sales for over 15 years, and I still cringe at the thought of picking up the phone to make a cold call sometimes. Then there are many people in our teams that do not see selling as remotely relevant to their roles (nor their lives). Here are a few tips for all of those people out there that hate selling to their core, as well as those leaders that find it difficult to get their teams to sell effectively.

  1. You actually actively sell every day without knowing it.

My mind was blown-away many years ago when a guy I was working with told me that “everything that I had ever read was selling me something”. How can that be? Even historic facts in the Encyclopedia Britannica? Yes, is the answer. Every conversation & scripture includes information being passed-on for the receiver’s mind to be influenced.

Communication = Selling. The quicker you and your team understand this, the quicker the stigma of selling will dissipate.

2. Your team is a reflection of you.

An unorganised team will almost certainly have an unorganised leader. The same applies to teams that are poor at sales. But wait, I can hear you screaming at me “I bring in huge sales myself, and I just wish the team could sell half of what I do”. This situation is common. Here, the missing link is for the leader to coach and mentor people that sell in a different way to you, or that have different capabilities to you. Either way, the first check is to understand your own fears and inabilities to sell. The second step is to check yourself in regard to how well you are selling the importance and fun of selling to your staff. An honest look at your own behaviour and our communication with our team has to be assessed. Then the ongoing process of coaching is critical to build sustainable cultural sales ability.

3. Selling is customer service.

I bet most know this and have tried this tact with their staff. The concept is critical, and is at the heart of sales as a skill – if we provide good customer service this will translate to sales. Think about the last time you received brilliant customer service. Write ten descriptive words about that person and the service they gave you. Now, see if these descriptive words match the “ideal salesperson”. The two lists tends to be spot on, and is an activity worth doing with your staff at your next team meeting. When it comes time for individual performance reviews, be sure to use sales performance metrics as the scoreboard for the performance of a team member in regard to their customer service standards. This will help to create a link between customer service (generally seen as a fun and desirable skill) and sales ability.

4. Selling is what your customers want.

Who has ever walked into a shop hoping for the sales assistant to do a bad job with the result being that you know the same as what you did before you walked in. No one, right!?! Customers want a positive outcome. In fact, they want the same positive outcome that you want. That is; they want information. They want connection. They want a fun, memorable experience. They want to buy something, if not today, someday soon. Your team’s job is to provide this. Without selling, what are we actually doing? We are simply just existing. Breathing. Maybe doing a few tasks and taking a few orders (which is not selling). This does not inspire customers to become loyal, nor help the business to grow. Give the customers what they want, and selling is a big part of this.

5. The expert factor.

Your team need to know that they are seen by you and your patrons as an expert in the products and services of your business. They are by definition consultants. Their primary job is to guide a customer through the decision making process so that the customer can make an informed choice to fulfil their particular need. Are your team experts? Do they need more training to build their capability and confidence? Are they the right people? This is your job to ensure these questions are answered. Focus on supporting your experts and they will help you blow-your-competition-away.

 The only addition to these points is to ensure a person is in the right mind set. Remember, at the top I mentioned that I cringe sometimes when I need to make a cold call. In these moments I need to check-in with myself and get back into my happy place. This may come in the form of music, dancing around the room, or taking a brief walk outside – anything to get a smile on my face and into game mode. Whatever does the trick, make sure it is done, and support your team to get into their sweet spot so they can sell with no inhibitions.

Environmental Medicine

Initially, when working with a new client, I always want to get to know the people, and what everyone does. Then, talk will turn to product, numbers, and the associated business and cultural conversations. Once this is all done, one of the key areas that always intrigues me is the working environment of the business leaders. Not only what their day/week looks like, but also where they work.

One of my small business client’s I recently worked with had a typical “small business office”. Files stacked up, random posters, bits of paper everywhere, and a general feeling of organised chaos. When I see this type of environment the first thing that hits me is Empathy! Yes, I can truly understand. A work office, whether on-site or at home can become a cramped, dark, uninspiring hole. These work areas quickly become a place of distain, and the heart drops every time you have to walk through that door. This does not set the scene for a leader to hit the ground running and hit the day with vigour and unadulterated passion.

For this reason, I tend to do my best creative work on holiday or in shared-working environments. The only problem with this is that you set yourself up for a great day’s work, but within ten minutes you need a file in your office, or you physically need to be down the hall from your team.

So, what is the answer? As a consultant, my job is to see what people within the business cannot. Commonly what I see (and feel myself sometimes) is a distinct link between the working environment and daily motivation of a leader. I don’t have a list of top 10 things storage solutions for you to implement. That’s for the likes of your office supplier and storage shop to help you with, as well as for you to discover for yourself. The answer is to acknowledge that your working space needs to be clean, spacious, inviting, well lit, and organised. The aesthetics are also very important. It needs to be all you, a place for you, a place that invites you in and says “hey buddy, it’s great to see you. Let’s enjoy the next chunk of time together. It’s gonna be great!”

Tomorrow morning when you open the door to your office take a good hard look. Be analytical. Before you put your bag down, and sit down, and start pounding out work, take a good hard look. Make a mental list of what opportunities there are and go fix them. Spend a bit of money if required. If you don’t have natural light, or a beautiful vista to overlook when you’re at your desk, then there may not be many options other than moving at some point. But, concentrate on the opportunities that are currently present. Lighting, inspiring images & quotes, branding & mission aligned animation, the use of desk space, the ergonomics, plants, and aroma can all be quick fixes for getting you in the right headspace to smash out a strong fun day in your business.