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5 Ways Millennials Will Make Great Managers

November 5th, 2014

In the past ten years, Millennials have been entering the workplace more than ever. While some may still view Generation Y as overeager interns, these developing leaders are becoming the future of successful business. And while it is easy to view a younger generation as lacking in knowledge and experience, the truth is Millennials have a lot to offer. Here are five ways this technologically advanced generation has the ability to bring new life and energy to a workplace:

 1. Gen Y Believes In Transparency & Equality

Don’t try to push outdated managerial systems on Millennials. They do not appreciate the traditional manager/employee relationship. Instead, they would rather view every coworker as an equal. They want to discuss ideas openly, regardless of experience or previously gained knowledge. Each business challenge is viewed as a unique problem, to be discussed and solved as a team, rather than assigning it as an individual task to an employee.

Another positive of Generation Y is their desire for complete transparency in the workplace. Full disclosure on salary, company processes, and trade secrets are appreciated by Millennials, and this in turn will lead them to be open with their staff as managers. They want a workplace to be an open environment for ideas that will lead to company growth and success.

2. Millennials Are Comfortable With Evolving Technology

This generation grew up in a digital age. They are used to, and actually require, technology’s constant updates and changing digital landscape. Millennials are the generation that has to have the newest phones and electronics. They expect software updates on a monthly, if not weekly, basis.

While many people from the older generations may look at Gen Y as lazy or lacking focus, the opposite is actually true. Millennials analyze the shortest distance between problems and solutions. They are adept at troubleshooting and enjoy tackling problems head-on. These rising professionals are part of a “Google smart” generation. They do not look to libraries for answers, but know that a quick Google search puts all the information they may need at their fingertips.

3. They’re Creative Thinkers

Millennials are much more open-minded to creative solutions than previous generations, such as Baby Boomers or Generation X. Unlike these previous generations that kept their head down and focused on retaining job security, Gen Y is much more comfortable with taking risks and thinking outside the box. These creative trailblazers focus less on their place in a company, and instead look at the “big picture”. Understanding their entire business sphere makes Millennials much more effective at knowing how to make positive and efficient changes. Their creative problem-solving techniques allow them to appreciate the opinions of newer employees, regardless of experience.

4. A Generation Of Natural Leaders

Young business leaders and professionals .

Gen Y possesses HUGE amounts of confidence. This is an entire generation of people that have never been told that they can’t succeed, but rather that anything is possible if they put in the necessary time and effort. Millennials don’t hesitate to examine every inch of a business, and then make suggestions for helpful changes. They will take a role as a leader without waiting to be asked. What they may lack in years of experience, they will make up for with enthusiasm and the desire to make a difference in their workplace. Generation Y will constantly demand that their company challenge them, so in turn they will pass this down in their managerial style. Millennial managers want to see employees become self-starters and team players instead of relying on constant direction from supervisors.

5. Big Believers In A Work/Life Balance

Gen Y is not looking for a 9-5 job that merely pays the bills. They are a generation that believes wholeheartedly in balancing their work lives with their social lives. They know how to make work environments fun while also understanding the importance of getting work done. Rather than living to work, they believe strongly in enjoying their pursuits. It isn’t just a job or career for Millennials, but a way to feel fulfilled in life. They want to feel successful and constantly challenged by their employers, and this leads to them doing the same to their managerial style. Asking the most out of their employees, while also providing a fun and interesting environment for them to learn, is one of the greatest strengths Millennials will bring to positions of management.

Before you know it, Millennials will be leading the world of business. Although many Baby Boomers and older generations still doubt and distrust their skills, embracing what defines their generation will allow businesses to thrive and grow. Make sure your company knows how to harness their unique attributes and turn them into successful leaders. After all, Millennials are the future of your company!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


4 Debunked Myths About Managing Millennials

October 15th, 2014

Take a look at your workforce. Chances are high that it’s generationally diverse, with Boomers, Generation Xers, and Millennials working at every level. That last cohort – Millennials, Gen Y, Generation Next, etc. – has been the subject of boundless research and discussion in the past 15 years.

Often when older generations discuss younger ones, the context is negative and may include words like entitled, unmotivated, and tough to manage. As a leader, when your young Gen Y employees aren’t meeting your expectations, it’s easy to tag the issue as a “generational defect.”

But Millennials exhibit numerous positive characteristics that make them increasingly valuable in the diverse, fast-paced modern workplace. In the oft-cited Connecting Generations: The Sourcebook for a New Workplace, Claire Raines describes Gen Y as “sociable, optimistic, talented, well-educated, collaborative, open-minded, influential, and achievement-oriented.” Yet, this latest generation of workers remains a puzzle to older managers.

If you’re unsure how to manage your young workers, or you feel as though they’re causing problems for your business, it’s may be a function of your own misconceptions.

Are you making snap judgments about your under-30 employees, and are these judgments having a negative effect on production and turnover? If so, how true are your assumptions, and are they based on preconceptions from things you may have read or heard about the Millennial workforce? Let’s examine and debunk some of the tall tales about managing Millennials.

Myth 1: Millennials have no work ethic

The Millennial workforce is only slightly smaller than the Baby Boomer generation. Yet, for the most part, they’re entering the workforce in a weaker economy than previous generations. Align those two factors and you’ve got a hyper-competitive job market. Millennials are forced to hustle and work hard to land a paying gig, so you shouldn’t assume that they wouldn’t do the same for your business.

It isn’t that Millennials don’t want to work. Rather, they don’t believe in the value of work for it’s own sake. They want to work efficiently to balance work time and play time. For them, long work hours do not equal hard work.

They’re achievement-oriented. In your business, this translates to higher production in a shorter time period, allowing for more leisure time. It’s a similar concept to Frank Gilbreth’s notion that so-called “lazy” workers are beneficial because they find the most efficient path to task completion.

As workers, they desire to complete a task well, to do so efficiently, and then put that task in the past. You will frustrate your Millennial employees by expecting them to put in face time beyond what’s required to reach their immediate objectives.

Counter the myth: Create flexible work environments

For Millennial workers, money is important, but time is the ultimate currency. Given the choice, they’ll opt to sprint to drive positive results.

Managers can foster this work style by offering flexible work hours. Some progressive companies even offer unlimited paid vacation time.

Do those sound like foreign concepts to you? Consider this: Millennials are excellent at cooperation and teamwork. They want to work with friends and close peers. That means they’re not likely to abuse paid time off at the risk of letting down their team. Cultivate a culture of trust and your Millennial workers will independently balance production and leisure time.

Myth 2: Millennials are unmotivated

Previous generations have largely been motivated by the future. Promises of raises and promotions are the standard carrot-on-a-stick for Boomers and Gen Xers. The expectation for achieving these goals was a demonstration of commitment through “paying their dues” and working overtime.

Often and especially with older Gen Yers, this generation watched their parents’ endless toil result in menial workplace advancement. Millennials seek a different path.

To older managers, they may appear unmotivated because they’re easily bored. This digital generation is constantly over stimulated. They need a variety of tasks and a clear structure to keep them interested.

Counter the myth: Shake things up and offer the right perks

As a manager, you can create systems that reward quality work. Try offering paid time off on the fly for great, tangible results.

Set clear expectations on what needs to be done. Don’t drag your Millennial employees along with nebulous goals, moving targets, and the promise of future rewards for paid dues without delineating the road to victory.

Myth 3: Millennials don’t respect authority

It isn’t that Millennials don’t respect authority. Actually, according to research from the Center for Creative Leadership, they are more likely than previous generations to give respect and loyalty to authority figures.

That being said, managers need to earn Millennial respect. Gen Y follows leaders based on experience, wisdom, and advice. Their helicopter parents fostered environments that encouraged them to seek frequent counsel and dedicated mentorship. Accordingly, doling out orders without communicating purpose often results in backlash. Millennials reject the “because I’m your boss” reasoning behind assignments.

Counter the myth: Be a mentor, not a manager

Millennials (more so than other generations) desire to find and collect mentors. Constant feedback and advice go a long way in earning due respect and loyalty. Lead by example, and your Millennials are much more likely to stick around.

Mentorship is not a one-way street, though. Gen Y feels their opinion is valuable regardless of their limited life experience. Listen to and heed their thoughts.

Myth 4: You have to manage Millennials differently from other generations

At the end of the day, managing personnel solely based on age is biased. Just like other generations, young workers want to make a positive contribution. They don’t need special treatment as much as they need fair opportunities and consideration. Think of each employee as an individual, not just a member of a generational cohort.

Also try to remember yourself at that age. Did your vision always align with your boss’? Probably not. Like your young workers, you likely spent a great deal of work time wondering what was going on outside the office.

Counter the myth: Recognize your biases

Keep in mind much of the research done that resulted in these myths carried socioeconomic bias. For that and many other reasons, effective managers should do their best to consider each employee individually within the context of his or her life.

Of course, it isn’t universally wrong to heed generational characteristics when hiring or managing a team. You often have to wade through an endless sea of people to find your perfect hire, and the larger your office grows, the more individuals you’ll have to manage in the mix. Heuristics let you do so efficiently. Just make sure that, if you’re going to make judgments about your Millennial workforce, your decisions are based on fact, not fiction.


7 Essential Steps to Building a Winning Sales Team

October 6th, 2014

It’s a fact: most organizations need a killer sales force. Business development, marketing, must-have products or services – these are all essential to meaningful revenue growth. But your sales team is the heart of production. Your salespeople are the ones championing your offer and driving precious profit. Your team should be the best it can. Period.

But how do you build a successful sales team? Buckle up, because it’s no easy task. As long as you follow these seven essential steps, however, you’ll have a team of sales all-stars under your belt.

 

1. Evaluate the sales situation

Good doctors don’t write prescriptions without a diagnosis. Following that example, you should treat your sales force as your patient.

Do you have the right resources already? Maybe you’re starting with a team of A-players that only need advanced sales training and a push in the right direction.

Alternatively, your team could be losing to demand. Your team can’t handle the volume of requests, and you need to add a few heads to keep the business growing.

Of course, you could be starting from the ground up. That means you’re working with a clean slate. But knowing how to build a sales team from scratch means knowing what to look for and how to find and attract winners.

2. Know whom you need and what they do

You’ve evaluated your environment. You know what you have. Now you need to understand what you do not have. To realize your next step, determine your sales team’s end goal. Is this a customer care team? Or a pack of aggressive cold callers? What does the team structure look like? Building accurate, functional job titles is critical to building the team itself.

Even if you’re working with existing employees, reexamine each person’s role. They may perform better in a different sales role with different expectations. Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find what earns wins.

3. Track progress and success

To build a winning sales team, you need to define what it means to win. However, understand that measurements for progress and success are different depending on your starting point.

Sales success is a factor of both Behavior and results. Focusing only on activity won’t encourage closing. Likewise, it can be discouraging to focus only on results, especially during a sales slump.

Examples for sales performance measurement:

  • Ratio of cost of sales to revenue: Pure sales volume isn’t the end all of every industry. Whether you sell small-margin products or not, actual revenue is a true measure of production.
  • Conversion rates: Is your team closing? How many touches does it take to close?
  • Forecasted vs. actual sales: Salespeople who consistently hit forecasted marks know their clients, markets, their own expectations, and how to succeed.

Examples for sales activity measurement:

  • Funnel health: The #1 categorical measurement for sales activity is the health of your sales funnel. It’s future facing and focused on the path to results. Record the status and quality of all prospects and the causes behind each. That way, when your team does or does not produce, you can examine the context and optimize your procedure.
  • Total new accounts contacted: At the top level, new contacts open doors. Measuring the number of new prospects your team collects reveals your team’s overall hunger and tenacity.
  • Number of contacts made in certain segments: Measuring contacts by their market segment allows you to track whether or not your team

4. Have a rock-solid hiring process

We’ve discussed the value of thorough hiring processes before, but it’s worth repeating. Ensure that your vetting procedures identify the right candidates in general, of course, but also gear your interviews carefully. You want to test your potential hires for how they’ll fare in your unique sales force.

Hiring is an incredibly time-consuming process. To find the best and build a great sales team, though, you’ve got to play the numbers game. There is a multitude of ways to prospect for new sales hires:

  • Recruiting events: Recruiting events are beneficial because they put huge numbers of qualified candidates in front of you at a relatively low cost of time and money. Those who attend these events are hungry, too. However, you place yourself in direct competition with every other company building a sales force at the event, so you need to be prepared to differentiate your business.
  • Referrals: Whether they come from current employees, friends, or business contacts, referrals are efficient for digging up pre-qualified candidates. Be sure to incentivize referrals to encourage the hunt.
  • Advertising: Posting ads carries two key advantages: speed and reach.
  • Outsourcing: When using an outside recruiter, it’s best to qualify the recruiting firm as you would a candidate for hire. Firms that aren’t a good fit are more likely to produce candidates that aren’t either.

Of course, there are other approaches. No matter how you choose to pursue candidates, cast a wide net.

The interview is key, as well. Engineer your interview questions carefully to scan for things like adaptability, resiliency, teamwork skills, competitiveness, and great communication. These characteristics all contribute to what makes a great salesperson, and great salespeople are the foundation of a winning sales team.

5. Keep the cash flowing

Money isn’t every person’s key motivator. More often than not, however, dedicated sales professionals have money on their minds. Even if the team you’re building isn’t primarily payday-driven, money is always important for security and comfort to some degree.

For building a sales team that needs a little security, offer base pay.

If that approach doesn’t align with your business objectives, try spicing up your commission scheme. Offer unpredictable incentives – monetary and otherwise – for performance.

6. Induct with care

If you’re building a brand new sales team or hiring new hands, good onboarding is invaluable. Take the time to inform new hires of your goals and vision for the force. Be transparent. Set clear expectations. Encourage your killer sales team to adopt the business or product as his or her own.

If you aren’t hiring, it’s helpful to remind your existing team of each of these points. Refresh their vision. Offer perspective. You need to walk the walk, to lead by example. If you can win, your team will feel that success and pursue it with vigor.

7. Pull out all the stops on training

What caliber training program do you plan on implementing? If you want your sales team to win (and win big), put everyone – that’s new hires, current employees, and even yourself – through rigorous sales training. Training teaches your sales team how to win. When your team knows the path to victory, walking it is simple.

High-quality sales training programs, like Sandler’s, focus on skills-based training. These courses test trainees’ learning in real time with hands-on exercises. Too often training programs focus on theoretical best practices, not real world applications.

Of course, the best sales training bakes reinforcement into every step. To keep your team winning, implement ways to maintain reinforcement training. Keep your team’s skills sharp at all times.

When it comes to building a winning sales team, there’s no silver bullet. It takes time, money, and a careful hand. That being said, the rewards are measured by the success of your company, and there is no greater reward.


10 Management Skills that Make the Best Sales Managers Stand Out

September 30th, 2014

Managing a team of sales reps with various motivations and egos is no easy feat. And if you’re a sales manger, you know that it can be a complicated and sometimes challenging role that requires a number of management skills to be successful. At Sandler Training, we’ve discovered that highly effective sales managers possess a set of skills and characteristics that make them stand out from the rest.

So how do some sales managers continually lead successful and goal-oriented sales teams while others repeatedly hit roadblocks and obstacles?

Here are 10 management skills that set some sales managers above the rest.

They lead by example

Nothing builds and sustains credibility like a sales manager who leads by example. In order to keep a sales team performing, sales managers must lead by example and establish an environment that facilitates cohesion, confidence, and success.

They do more leading and less micro-managing

Too often sales managers rely on deadlines and metrics to drive performance, which can quickly turn into micro managing. Though metrics are important, effective sales managers understand how to work alongside their team members rather than over their shoulders. These sales managers seek to mentor their sales reps and tweak motivation and reward tactics to align with individual preferences.

They know when to coach

The overarching goal of coaching is to make individuals and the team better. For sales managers, mastering the skill of coaching is particularly important. Highly effective sales managers realize that placing priority on coaching will build confidence among team members. Therefore, they seek opportunities to provide feedback that will make their sales reps better and don’t hesitate to drop everything to help sales reps solve problems.

On the other hand, great sales managers also recognize when sales reps don’t need or want to be coached and leave them alone to do their high-priority tasks.

They don’t overcomplicate processes

Every team needs a sales methodology and goals to drive sales team performance. However, because highly regimented, complex sales methodologies can confuse sales reps, the process should only be as complex as it absolutely needs to be. An effective sales manager knows how to enable, explain, and support a sales process to make it easier for sales reps to understand and relate to without making the sales process feel like a strait jacket.

They communicate clear expectations

Sales teams work best when they know exactly what is expected of them and when deliverables are due. Though key performance indicators (KPIs) vary from company to company, sales reps should know exactly what happens when they meet expectations and what to expect when they miss. It is the responsibility of the sales manager to ensure their team fully understands expectations.

They pay attention to negative patterns

Highly effective sales managers think ahead and pay particular attention to team morale. These sales managers can recognize what small trends and negative patterns indicate before they become significant issues. By paying attention to small changes in sales reps’ performance, the sales manager can be proactive with coaching and mentoring before it is too late.

They choose their team carefully

Because sales managers rarely hire on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis, developing impeccable hiring skills can be a challenge. However, great sales manager who can find and retain the right sales talent will improve team performance and sales results. Picking the sales team carefully means knowing how to leverage the strengths of high-performing outliers and when to coach up or part ways with under-performers.

Sales Teams

 

They enable their team by protecting their time

Great sales managers practice good time management habits and eliminate demands for sales reps that don’t directly drive revenue. This makes the most of the sales team’s time and shows the team that their sales manager genuinely cares about and respects their time.

They can see the big picture

Sales reps are responsible for their own quotas and accounts, whereas sales managers must organize the whole team’s needs. Successful sales managers have the ability to step back and analyze the big picture before making decisions that will impact the entire team.

They look for ways to make it fun

Sales managers who genuinely care about the happiness of individuals on their team tend to get more from their sales reps. These sales managers understand the importance of showing appreciation and celebrating wins often. Making work fun boosts productivity and helps to alleviate the constant pressures that come with sales.

Even the best sales managers aren’t perfect. But once you understand the management skills that make certain sales managers stand out from the rest, you can begin looking for sales management training that will align with your needs and help you to evolve into a great sales manager.


How Management Training Can Help You Avoid the Unexpected Cost of a Bad Hire

September 16th, 2014

Want to hear a troubling statistic?

The US Department of Labor estimates that a bad hire costs your business 30% of that employee’s potential year-one earnings. This is a conservative estimate, too. It’s difficult to calculate the loss incurred when you hire the wrong person for your business.

Every manager and business owner has dealt with bad hires. Maybe they started out seemingly stellar, fitting your company culture seamlessly and producing exceptional results. Or, maybe you were in a rush to fill seats and let bad seeds slip through without proper vetting.

Either way, fast-forward 6 months, and you’re stuck dealing with bad employees exhibiting any of the following issues:

  • They fail to produce acceptable quality of work.
  • They work poorly with other employees.
  • They sport a negative attitude.
  • They’re late or don’t show up.
  • They fail to meet set deadlines.
  • They directly cause customers, clients, partners or other employees to complain.

Effective management training programs cover employee management through the entire job cycle, from recruitment to onboarding through wading through any mess created by toxic hires. Combining leadership theory and application of specific learning, management training allows business managers to test their mettle against bad hire situations in a practice environment, before they’re faced with damaged profits from actual difficult employees.

Develop Accurate and Functional Job Profiles

The only surefire way to avoid the costs associated with bad employees is to evade bad hires altogether. That’s easily said, but, unless you’ve created a rock-solid hiring process, it’s not so easily done.

Quality management training programs help you learn how to make great hires by starting from the very beginning, from before you’ve even started prospecting candidates. Sandler’s management training first aims to help you develop accurate and functional job profiles. This critical step ensures you aren’t simply filling seats in a rush – a common practice that leads to bad hires and diminished profits.

Having clearly defined roles empowers managers to weed out under and overqualified candidates.

Identify Your Business’ Best Fitting Candidates

The identification process acts as your primary line of defense against bad hires. Management training coaches best practices for the most important step in avoiding bad hires: the interview.

Often, entrepreneurs and managers make effective talkers but poor interviewers. It takes training to learn what to ask and how to dig deep and find top talent. Sandler’s management training focuses on the interview as a tool to eliminate potential bad hires by uncovering motivators, teamwork skills, habits, and reactions to change, stress, failure, and even success. Learning and practicing great interviews helps managers spot the signs of a bad hire early, even before they’re hired, preventing any corresponding costs down the road.

Bring Bad Hires Up Through Supervising, Training, Coaching, and Mentoring

In a perfect world, recruitment and vetting take care of bad hires before they’re placed at a desk. This is reality, though, and sometimes bad seeds slip through even the best hiring processes.

Sandler’s management training program emphasizes skills that encourage top-down coaching and mentorship. New hires are far less likely to sour if they’re nurtured properly. It’s only when bad eggs are left to hatch on their own that their hidden tendencies manifest as toxic habits.

Supervising, training, and coaching all occur within the walls of your office. Bad hires’ noxious behavior, however, isn’t always a function of the job. For this reason, Sandler’s management training program extends to mentorship training that crosses job boundaries. Focusing on personal relationships with bad employees fosters stronger attachment to individual and organizational goals, which can motivate would-be bad hires to do their best for your company.

Help Your Team Filter the Poisoned Well

Unfortunately, bad hires often create toxic environments for your other employees. Mitigating the damage means setting all of your employees back on track, not just ridding the workplace of that one hire.

Through management training, Sandler coaches managers on the skills necessary to reconstruct positive, productive work environments in the wake of a bad-hiring fiasco. We encourage trainees to focus on long-term improvement. Specifically, we espouse the value of aligning personal and professional goals within departments. This safeguards your good employees against the poisonous behaviors of bad ones, as they become more resilient to obstacles that prevent them from reaching their goals. For managers, this means avoiding losses related to demotivated employees, preventing the spread of toxic attitudes and resultant performance.

Navigate Tough Issues Through Skills-Based Exercises

Teaching proven management theories goes a long way toward avoiding the costs of a bad hire. That being said, theoretical knowledge only takes managers but so far.

Sandler’s management training is hands-on. We provide active exercises that put you in the thick of your business’ toughest situations, including those borne of difficult employees. Nobody can foresee every possible problem, but practice through management training prepares company leaders to tackle issues with confidence and skill, mollifying costs associated with an otherwise fumbled treatment.

Dealing with the Unexpected Costs of a Bad Hire

You won’t always be able to mitigate the costs of hiring the wrong person. It happens. That being said, owners and managers can steel themselves and their organizations against difficult employees through effective training.

The unrealized negative economic potential to bad hires is daunting, but management training prepares you for the worst. Preparation means proper handling of these situations. Proper handling, in turn, means you’re less likely to be drained tens or even hundreds of thousands of company dollars when faced with that one unexpected bad hire.

Let’s continue the conversation. How have you dealt with toxic employees in the past? What happened when your awesome hire turned into a nightmare for your company?  Were you able to help turn them around?


12 telling signs that your new managers need training

September 8th, 2014

When you hire new managers, you are giving these individuals the opportunity to lead, supervise, mentor, and motivate others and their ability to do so makes a huge impact on your company’s overall success. Yet, too often, first-time managers are thrown into their new role with little to no management training. This can lead to poor management, consequently causing high turnover rates, workplace stress, and declines in employee productivity.

No one intentionally sets out to be a poor manager. In fact, many managers may not even realize they are doing anything wrong. However, there are a number of signs and traits to look for in your new managers that may signify they need training.

Uses abrasive communication

Abrasive managers rub their subordinates the wrong way by displaying behaviors ranging from mild offense to open attack. This management style creates interpersonal friction that often leads to resentment and disrupts workflow. If your new manager can’t communicate a problem or concern without berating, belittling, or yelling at employees, it may be time to consider management training to help your manager communicate constructively.

Creates office politics 

Office politics kill morale and can lead to a toxic work environment. Your managers should be doing things to prevent it, not perpetuate it. Finding that a manager is pitting employees against one another or gossiping to employees about their peers should be a red flag that your manager needs management training.

Manages with fear or intimidation

Too often, managers think employees must be intimidated or shamed into following instructions and avoiding mistakes. However, this is a dangerous management tactic that causes unnecessary stress among employees, leading to a decline in productivity. According to the American Psychological Association, 51% of employees report being less productive at work as a result of stress in the workplace. Perhaps the manager is intimidated or unsure about how to get results without relying on threats, but no matter the reason, this tactic does not help their team or the organization as a whole.

Ignores non-performers

Some managers have difficulty confronting non-performers while others simply ignore them in hopes that underperforming employees will somehow manage to soldier through. Meanwhile, everyone else on the team has to pull a little more weight to pick up the slack of the non-performers. This is a dangerous approach that can lead to resentment and low team morale.

Has trouble delegating work 

No one can take on everything, but sometimes managers believe delegating makes them less important. So, they cling to their authority and micromanage their employees. This tactic can have negative effects on the entire organization and often leads to lower quality of work.

Steals credit for the good and passes blame for the bad

It’s hard to hold a team together when mistakes occur and the temptation to point fingers may be hard to resist. However, good leaders take more than their share of the blame and less than their share of the credit. Unfortunately, many managers have a terrible habit of taking credit for the good and passing the blame for the bad on to their team members.

Has trouble providing constructive criticism

Employees have the right to expect that their manager will be able to offer mentorship and direction. So, when a manager has no problem pointing out the mistakes but provides little to no insight on how to improve, employees get discouraged and frustrated.

Knows everything

Arrogance is a dangerous characteristic to begin with but it can be toxic when it comes to managing a team. The best managers are open to learning from others and rarely take a “my way or the highway” stance on matters in the workplace.

Fails to update the team

One of the worst mistakes a manager can make is failing to communicate important or relevant information to the team. While there are certainly instances where it’s better to operate on a “need to know” basis, sharing appropriate updates with the team is important to building trust and team morale. Hiding this information may lead to confusion and unnecessary stress among employees.

Expects subordinates to mind read

If a manager expects subordinates to know what’s coming next, but doesn’t do a good job of providing context or providing guidance, then their subordinates are being set up for failure. This issue may be easily fixed with leadership and communication training to help your manager understand the best way to convey expectations to the rest of team.

Fails to plan for future concerns

Jumping from emergency to emergency is stressful for both the manager and the entire team. Does your new manager constantly seem to operate one step away from disaster and can’t seem to get a handle on what needs to be done? If so, now is the time to consider training to improve goal setting and time-management abilities to ensure the whole team doesn’t suffer from the manager’s poor planning.

Pushes off decisions to others

Managers who collect all the information but still can’t seem to make a decision can have negative, far-reaching ramifications on your organization. Lack of decision-making abilities makes your manager look like a poor leader, often causing team members to lose respect for the manager.

With everything on your plate, it can be difficult to pick up on some of these behaviors. To ensure you’re not missing anything, try sending out an employee satisfaction survey to the employees who report directly to the new manager. It’s likely that these employees will have valuable insight on the manager’s performance. Still not sure if your new managers need training? See what Sandler’s management training programs can do for your managers.

Have you ever hired a first-time manager with any of these characteristics? Did he/she go through management training to improve their leadership style? Let us know with a comment below


6 Ways Effective Sales Managers Lead Their Teams Out of Slumps

September 2nd, 2014

Sales slumps happen. They are guaranteed to hit and, when they do, they put intense pressure on your team to perform. You, as a sales manager, should be prepared to lead your team out of the doldrums effectively and efficiently.

We’ve identified 6 things exemplary sales managers do to drag teams from the muck. There’s no perfect solution to sales slumps, but these techniques will help mitigate damage and keep your staff afloat through the toughest times.

 

Identify and address problems

When excellent managers recognize a sales rut, they first examine the situation as a whole. Ask yourself a handful of questions to help diagnose and address the situation at hand:

  • What caused the slump? Was it something outside your control, such as a market correction? Or is the cause internal? Is your team fatigued? Caught in an inefficient cycle?
  • Is the whole team in a slump, or just certain individuals?
  • When in the past was your team at its best? What conditions led to success, and can you recreate them? Is there a common theme causing this issue?
  • How is the team feeling outside of work? Is everyone healthy and making time for activity? Stress and emotion weigh heavily on the sales process and can’t be ignored.

There are no silver bullets in climbing out of sales valleys. Focus on what’s obvious, but try not to ignore the big picture.

Shift their focus toward process and productivity

Remember: sales is a science. One all-too-common mistake sales teams make during tough times is abandoning process. Desperation sinks in, and the successful past goes out the window.

It’s your job to keep your team on task. Help each team member stay stoic. Focus on your sales process and their individual cookbook behaviors. Keep them prospecting, practicing pitches, and fighting for sales as usual. There are ways to fight your team’s frustration and fatigue. Halting your standard selling process is not one of them.

Set micro-goals

Maintaining broad and lofty goals during a sales rut can result in work without focus. Instead, define clear objectives. When times are tough, turn your team’s attention to smaller, more controllable personal behavioral goals. Increase the number of prospecting calls made by 10%, or solve a specific problem for one customer. Achieving process-based goals can help your team maintain scope and keep morale from plummeting.

Encourage touches on existing customers

Remember that a primary role for sales teams is to build and maintain customer trust. Prospecting during a slump is important, but keeping your existing customers happy is always critical.

Challenge stagnant perspectives and comfort zones

During the problem discovery phase, did you find that your team was spinning their wheels? It happens to all of us. We live in routine, recycling what we’re reading, to whom we’re talking, and how we treat our jobs.

Sometimes shaking up the routine can put your team back on track. You can facilitate this for your staff without breaking sales procedure by bringing in fresh perspectives. Network with leaders in similar positions and ask them to shadow your team. Seek invaluable advice from colleagues and advisors you trust.

It may be a single member of your team in need of a refresh. In that case, have that person sell from another office for a day. By shadowing another company, that person becomes reinvigorated and brings new ideas to your process.

Pool your resources

When your team is individually focused, it’s easy to forget the team aspect. Encourage healthy collaboration and cross networking among team members.

Open teamwork can lead to fresh perspectives. However, putting everyone in a room with no direction can lead to chaos. Try taking on Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ approach to productive collaboration meetings. To start a meeting, provide your team with a memo detailing the specific issues at hand. Have everyone take 15-30 minutes to read and annotate this memo before proceeding. This process aligns everyone toward a singular goal, creating a focused meeting environment.

Whenever possible, nurture an environment that’s conducive to open idea sharing. In uncertain times, your team may fear failure. Lending thoughtful consideration to everyone’s ideas leads to a more confident sales staff, especially when you put those ideas into action.

How do you manage a team when sales take a dive?

If you’ve been a sales manager for some time, you probably have survived a slump in your recent memory. Your team may be stuck in one right now. What are you doing to keep revenues and behaviors positive? What were the most effective techniques in the past that allowed your organization to endure? Tell us in a comment below!


4 Core Skills Leaders Needs to be Successful at Any Level of Management

August 14th, 2014

It’s a common notion to believe that leaders at different levels should have a different set of skills. However, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman of the leadership development consultancy Zenger Folkman write in Harvard Business Review that leaders should be practicing the same core skills that have driven them from their first day in the workforce, no matter how high they rank.

Zenger Folkman surveyed over 330,000 supervisors, middle managers, senior managers, and top executives asking what skills leaders need to be successful in the position they currently held. Rather than finding different sets of core competencies for each level of management, the data showed an interesting consistency about which skills were perceived as most important for first-time managers to top executives and every level in between. These essential fundamental leadership skills included:

  • Inspires and motivates others
  • Displays high integrity and honesty
  • Solves problems and analyzes issues
  • Drives for results

How can you demonstrate these skills at every level of management? Here are a few tips that Sandler recommends to help you improve each one of the leadership skills that matter most.

Leadership skill #1: Inspires and motivates others

While being self-motivated is one of the top traits of a successful employee, there are a number of things you, as a leader, can do to keep your employees and team motived and inspired.

  • Set small milestones. Everyone loves achieving goals and celebrating success. Set milestones that can be reached and highlight your team’s success when they reach a new milestone.
  • Focus on purpose, not just profit. Teams and individual employees are inspired knowing that their hard work has a greater impact than profitability alone. Look beyond the obvious and create a wider reaching impact that extends into a community and influences social causes.
  • Say thanks. People like to feel appreciated. So, why not send a quick thank you email to your team and CC your boss? Saying ‘thank you’ is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to show your team that you are a great leader.

Leadership skill #2: Displays high integrity and honesty

  • Share information. Long management meetings are bound to stir up some nervous emotions among your team. Communicate as much news as you can, so your employees’ minds don’t wander.
  • Give feedback. Whether it’s good, bad, or ugly, clear and constructive feedback is necessary. Providing feedback is essential in making your team as productive as possible, so give it as often as you can

Leadership skill #3: Solves problems and analyzes issues

  • Remove obstacles. Bureaucracy often suppresses creativity and innovation. If you can, cut out unnecessary paperwork and look for ways to streamline processes to make it easier for your team to succeed.
  • Be ready to teach.  While simply giving instructions will work for some, it may not work for all employees on your team. Some employees may be too nervous to ask you for help if they don’t understand a problem. Show that you are happy and willing to teach, instruct, and assist to help them solve the problem at hand.

Leadership skill #4: Drives for results

  • Empower through delegation. Delegate tasks among your team and delegate to give yourself time to complete tasks more appropriate for your level of management.
  • Raise your hand and lead by example. When your team sees you putting in extra hours and offering to help out, they will be more inclined to jump in and follow your lead. Next time a project needs additional attention, volunteer to pitch in and help.
  • Solve, don’t just sell. Rather than selling your employees about why they need to perform better, inspire employee performance by connecting the dots of your team’s efforts. Demonstrate how your team’s work and the work of their contributors solves problems in conjunction.

Effectively managing and leading a team can be challenging, but understanding the most important leadership skills will help you focus your attention on what matters most.  What are some of the ways you demonstrate your leadership skills to your team? Do you think these 4 skills are the most important in your organization? Let us know with a comment below.