Should I Stay or Should I Go

By: Mark Goldstein

Gallup has conducted a series of studies over the past few years that analyze employee job engagement. The results are not surprising, but they are alarming – only 30% of employees are engaged with their work and employer. Think of all that is lost with the other 70% of employees – production, customer relations, potential, and dollars – not to mention the caustic effect on other employees and their own level of engagement, and turnover (or the failure to turn over the unengaged). The ultimate question is what causes such widespread disengagement from work, and how to prevent, detect, and rectify it.

While employee disengagement may be attributable to a variety of factors, one factor seems most prominent: the relationship between the employee and his/her direct supervisor. In Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” study, Jim Clifton concludes that “the biggest single decision you make in your job—bigger than all the rest—is who you name manager.” So how do your managers come to that role within your company? Do they have any training in management? What leadership traits have they shown? And, perhaps most importantly, how certain are you that those traits are essential to management? Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman wrote extensively on this subject and, more specifically, on how his assessments of young soldiers as a young army psychologist were all wrong – evidence of a “cognitive bias” that shaped his later, prize-winning work. As Kahneman described it:

“What happened was remarkable. The global evidence of our previous failure should have shaken our confidence in our judgments of the candidates, but it did not. It should also have caused us to moderate our predictions, but it did not. We knew as a general fact that our predictions were little better than random guesses, but we continued to feel and act as if each of our specific predictions was valid. I was reminded of the Müller-Lyer illusion, in which we know the lines are of equal length yet still see them as being different. I was so struck by the analogy that I coined a term for our experience: the illusion of validity.”

– Thinking Fast & Slow

Another of the recent Gallup studies reveals a greater concern: half of those surveyed left a job to escape their manager. These findings not only reinforce previous studies, but point to a more significant trend: individual employees leave their direct supervisors— not the company. In other words, while certain businesses may consider poor employee retention rates an industry norm or a standard occurrence, the actual issue may be the opposite. Poor managers and/or management may actually be contributing to poor performance or high turnover – undermining your business.

So as you approach the new year, resolve yourself to think beyond year-end bonuses, holiday parties, and “seasonal sentiments.” With unemployment levels at historic lows, do you have an accurate read on your workforce and your managers and, if so, how do you know?

Mark Goldstein is President of Goldstein Law Group, S.C., a boutique law firm serving as outside general counsel to business, with a focus on labor and employment issues, business litigation, and corporate law. He is a frequent speaker and writer on labor and employment law and other topics. Mark is a member of TEC 31.

Joint Sales Calls for Fun and Profit

Sales quote: “Formal education will make you a living. Self-education will make you a fortune.”

 

Recently, we have seen more and more sales organizations employ a practice formerly used only in training new sales reps. Joint sales calls have become more of an ongoing practice and not just part of training for the rookies.

Sometimes referred to as “call shadowing” making a joint call with another sale rep provides the opportunity for veterans to improve their own messaging and delivery. Furthermore, it allows them to share techniques, learn new strategies, and critique their peers.

We find reps become isolated in their practice. It is even more evident for remote salespeople. The weekly call in, or quarterly sales meeting is often consumed with product enhancement and corporate policy changes and less with effective sales training.

Many salespeople have become so accustomed to their presentation and sales process that they are using outdated information, terminology abandoned ten years ago, or using inappropriate or annoying language. Sales managers often allow joint calls to fall to bottom of their coaching priority list because they are time consuming and sometimes intimidating.

Here’s an idea 

Encourage experienced reps to make joint calls. If you have several reps working out of the same office it’s easy to plan a day of joint calls. Split up the day, or week with alternating calls on one another’s customers. It takes a bit more planning with far flung national sales organizations, but nonetheless worth the effort. A byproduct is increased team building and camaraderie.

Here’s how

The shadowing rep is strictly the observer. Physical positioning is important. Move yourself out of direct eye contact with the customer. Take copious notes. Not only listen to your colleague, but watch his body language, look for annoying habits, listen for overused phrases or jargon. After the sales call, don’t leave the customer’s parking lot without the critique. Make it constructive and have some fun with it. Be brutally honest, but remember, your objective is to improve one another’s process.

Remember your phone skills too

Leaving the same voicemail time after time is not only boring it sometimes becomes unintelligible. You leave your call back number so quickly no one will remember it. Pretty soon you sound like a “robo call” and don’t even know it. Ask a team member to listen in, ask for feedback and suggestions for improvement.

A tip for sales managers

Take a step back and acknowledge the beauty of your reps learning from one another! If joint sales calls are not already an existing practice within your organization; give it a try. It makes your job easier too.

Spend Time on the Right Stuff

Historically, we have considered two ways to increase sales: add more salespeople, or improve the effectiveness of those we have.

Equally important is spending time on the right stuff. We often hear “my sales team is not spending enough time pursuing new prospects.” Salespeople, like most of us, tend to take the path of least resistance. Let’s be sure we all know what’s important, provide necessary information and remain focused.

Look at these areas to help uncover problem areas in your sales organization. Address these and be well on your way to improving sales performance.

  • Do you have the right people on the bus? If you have always hired industry veterans, it may be time to move to experienced salespeople regardless of industry experience. Teaching product is often easier and more effective than teaching selling.
  • Are salespeople armed with proper information? Profile your ideal customer and make sure salespeople are pursuing prospects that match that profile. Understand the needs that your new product addresses and provide salespeople with supporting data.
  • Do salespeople have appropriate levels of knowledge to successfully sell?       Expecting someone who has never been on farm to successfully sell barn cleaners is just plain stupid.       Expecting someone accustomed to a one call close to successfully sell capital equipment is equally dumb. Invest in specific product and relative sales training.
  • How much time is available? If your salespeople have books of business that provide no time for finding and developing new customers consider a re-organization. Expecting new customer acquisition when your salespeople spend all day servicing existing accounts is a recipe for failure.       It may be time to divide your team into a new business development group and an account management group.
  • Are your priorities clear? Management needs to be abundantly clear on their objectives. Whether it be a new product introduction, or new customer acquisition, make sure you establish goals and track metrics that drive sales to meet that objective.
  • Does your compensation plan drive desired behavior? Uncover what motivates your salespeople. For some it’s money, for others it’s recognition. Maybe it isn’t the same for all. Tailor your plan to meet their desires.

While these seem simple and obvious, they are often completely missed. In other cases, they are acknowledged and just neglected. Revisiting these areas annually will help you remain focused on what’s important and help you adjust to a changing environment.

Embracing the New Perspective – Part 2

 

 

This blog is part 2 if you would like to read part 1 first click here.

I left you wondering what recommendations or answers I had for the dynamic shifts that are occurring within the field of leadership and executive development in my latest blog. My apologies but I didn’t want to burden you with a 500 – 600 word reading effort.

Which of the shifts have you seen greater progress within your business? Which shifts needs to move further faster, but seems stalled at the moment? Are there other important shifts you see happening in your organization? I’d appreciate hearing from you by leaving a response or sending an e-mail (TECChair@LoichingerAdvantage.com).

New Perspectives

Senior executives and business owners hold the keys for setting expectations, balancing requests for organizational investments, and holding leaders accountable for the leadership behaviors and results.

Let’s recap the emerging perspectives that your business or organization should be shifting to:

  • Leadership development needs to be seen as an investment in your organizations future and growth.
  • Leadership development has greater success when it is intentional, planned and integrated with the strategic priorities of the business.
  • Leadership development for the executive team is more important than ever, and should not be lightly dismissed.
  • Investments in leadership and executive coaching will pay higher returns than any other infrastructure investment you can make in the business; however, you need to do it well, and also look at the losses that occur when not making the investment.

Taking Action

I imagine you already have taken steps to grow the leadership pipeline of talent in your business and organization. If not, here are several action steps you may want to consider in your early stages of investment:

  • Budget: Begin by identifying and setting aside a percentage of payrolls for wise investments in your leadership and executive development. The average investment for overall training and talent budgets is just short of 5%.
  • Define: Bring in an outside resource to help define what leadership skills and competencies are key to your organizations success. You don’t have to start from scratch, but you do need to winnow the large list down to the critical few.
  • Assessment: Once you have defined and rolled out the leadership initiative to those affected, assess where leaders at each level are within your organization. That will help define the needs and strengths for each level: first level supervision, management, and executive level.
  • Plan: One action I highly encourage after leaders have gone through a 360-degree assessment is developing an individual leadership development plan. This will help them prioritize a few goals, align those goals to important company plans, and build an action plan that can be tracked. I believe you will gain better results from effective development planning, than worrying whether you have the right performance review system in place.
  • System: Nearly every company has a performance management system for the employee and managers, but the higher you travel up the leadership pipeline, the more it vanishes into obscurity. At the very least, define how your system will attract, orient, develop and help leaders at broad levels to perform.
  • Outcome: I encourage you to move beyond measuring training activity – how many people attended training, and whether the trainer entertained them. Measure leadership growth and impact. If you completed an assessment, you can re-assess in 18 months. If leadership plans were aligned with strategic initiatives, assess how well those initiatives met company objectives.

Closing Thoughts

Success begins with the plan, perspective and the goals that we set in motion. Remember the cycle of organizational improvement? The Shewart Cycle became one of the most prominent: Plan – Do – Check – Act. Begin your planning with what you hope to achieve and a strong business case for why. Start small. Begin with those who want to accept the role of leaders and are accepting of your leadership development efforts. Make sure leaders at each state of the leadership pipeline are engaged. Pilot and test each new aspect of your development system. They won’t be perfect. Adjust, improve and keep moving forward. Above all, be clear about your expectation, and offer leaders choices to achieve the end results. It’s a great journey. Enjoy the ride.

Dan Loichinger is the founder and president of Loichinger Advantage LLC. The Madison, Wisconsin based firm delivers proprietary executive coaching, leadership assessments and TEC Executive Roundtables for owners and executives of growing organizations.

Clients value our ability to increase their leadership effectiveness, improve their strategic insight, accelerate change while sustaining results, and increase their competitive advantage. Together, we deliver proven leadership growth.

The Seven Basics of Negotiations

Sales quote: “Humility is virtue, timidity is an illness.”

First and foremost; negotiating is a necessity in life (not just business life; all life). Learn how to negotiate or think about becoming a hermit.

  1. Set an anchor. Adam D. Galinsky, in a Harvard Business Review article, talks about being first to set an anchor in a negotiation. Almost always both parties have an understanding of the worth of what is being negotiated. His study found that the final outcome of a negotiation is affected by whether the buyer or the seller makes the first offer. Specifically, when a seller makes the first offer, the final settlement price tends to be higher than when the buyer makes the first offer.

Do not set a price range. If you are the seller and give a range, the buyer will only hear the low end of your range. Yikes, you just set an anchor!

Simply put, if you are the buyer set a low anchor and if you are selling; set a high anchor. The important point is to be first.

  1. Give AND take. If your seller requests you raise your offer; get something in return. “If I raise my offer, what will you give in return?”

Bonus: you can ask for things you don’t need or want. Have a couple of things you can give away later that you didn’t need anyway.

  1. Never negotiate with yourself. Verify everything and assume nothing. Too often we see people with preconceived ideas leaving money on the table. Remember, ask open-ended questions. Your goal should be to learn as much as you can before final agreement.
  2. Silence can be golden. No doubt you have heard of the “poignant pause” sometimes nicknamed the “pregnant pause”. People tend to talk a lot when they are nervous. Whether it be selling or negotiating, listen twice as much as you talk.

Let’s say you are the buyer and you make the make first offer (as you should). Your seller responds negatively to your offer with something like “…way too low…” Here’s your chance to demonstrate some restraint and say nothing in response. She may get nervous and begin talking to fill the void.   She may tell you something significant and useful. You may not have learned it had you been talking rather than listening.

  1. Control the pace of the negotiation. Sometimes, it is helpful to take a “time out” from the negotiation. Step away, take a breath and clear your head. Particularly if you feel the conversation is not going where you want to go.

Ask for a drink of water, a bathroom break, say you need to call your boss/board member/spouse…any excuse allowing you to make some notes and gather your wits will do. Does that sound wimpy? It’s better to sound wimpy than come out on the short end of a negotiation.

  1. Be prepared to walk away. If you have run into the ultimate negotiator or someone totally unwilling to compromise; politely excuse yourself. This will occasionally happen and you MUST be prepared to walk away. More times than not, calling the other’s bluff brings them closer to the middle.
  2. It’s not over, until it’s over. Let’s say the negotiation has been going on for a while. There has been significant give and take on both sides. Your buyer asks for something you just can’t give up. It is absolutely acceptable to go back and ask for a previously agreed to concession to be returned.

 

Same Old Story or New Perspective

By Dan Loichinger, TEC Chair

An elderly woman was taking care of her grocery shopping at the market Saturday morning when a young black man abruptly ran by her followed by the market manager. She almost lost her footing save the shopping cart she had hold of while looking for the next item.

What do you imagine she thought was happening? What story did you tell yourself?

As it turns out, the young black man was shopping in a different aisle of the store and noticed smoke and fire coming from a car in the parking lot, dropped everything and started running to help, while alerting the store manager to call 911.

We accept new ideas that reinforce our current views, and normally reject those that don’t fit or match the current view. Not to say they aren’t always true, but sometimes, we need to challenge our assumptions and ask others for help to see the complete picture.

Today, our perception is reality, unless we take action to inform ourselves. Today I hope to help better inform your current perceptions around leadership and executive development with part-one of a two-part blog feature.

Fast Forward

Organizations started formal training for managers and executive’s years ago. Approaches have come and gone, but today’s businesses spend billions of dollars to prepare leaders and executives for their important role and responsibilities.

In the last decade, executive coaching and development has grown at a phenomenal rate, and yet we continue to apply many of those old stories and assumptions that have already lived out their useful life.

As an executive coach and TEC Chair, I realize that not everyone needs or is ready for the services I offer, but far too many are burdened with these old stories and ideas. We need to advance our thinking and complete the picture to fully realize the benefits that are available to us.

How effectively are you developing current and future executives to drive your strategic growth initiatives?

Shifting Perspectives

While there are many perspectives to highlight, I’ll share several shifting perspectives in the table and highlight a few I see and hear most often in my daily travels:

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 2.08.00 PM

Closing Thoughts

I have worked and lived in the world of leadership and executive development for many years. I have seen it done well, I have many projects that have provided me great pride, and there are others I wish I could have a do over on (fortunately, many from my early years).

So much of what we can and are able to achieve with organizational success starts with our perspective on leadership and executive development. We all have different experiences and stories, but work to connect all the pieces of the puzzle together with the people and expertise around you. The benefits are many, and the possibilities endless. Tune in next month as I share more on what you will be able to do to shape the new perspectives with you and your executive team.

 

 

Dan Loichinger is the founder and president of Loichinger Advantage LLC. The Madison, Wisconsin based firm delivers proprietary executive coaching, leadership assessments and TEC Executive Roundtables for owners and executives of growing organizations.

Clients value our ability to increase their leadership effectiveness, improve their strategic insight, accelerate change while sustaining results, and increase their competitive advantage. Together, we deliver proven leadership growth.

The Seven Basics of Negotiations

By Mark Burrall

Sales quote: “Humility is virtue, timidity is an illness.”

First and foremost; negotiating is a necessity in life (not just business life; all life). Learn how to negotiate or think about becoming a hermit.

  1. Set an anchor. Adam D. Galinsky, in a Harvard Business Review article, talks about being first to set an anchor in a negotiation. Almost always both parties have an understanding of the worth of what is being negotiated. His study found that the final outcome of a negotiation is affected by whether the buyer or the seller makes the first offer. Specifically, when a seller makes the first offer, the final settlement price tends to be higher than when the buyer makes the first offer.

Do not set a price range. If you are the seller and give a range, the buyer will only hear the low end of your range. Yikes, you just set an anchor!

Simply put, if you are the buyer set a low anchor and if you are selling; set a high anchor. The important point is to be first.

  1. Give AND take. If your seller requests you raise your offer; get something in return. “If I raise my offer, what will you give in return?”

Bonus: you can ask for things you don’t need or want. Have a couple of things you can give away later that you didn’t need anyway.

  1. Never negotiate with yourself. Verify everything and assume nothing. Too often we see people with preconceived ideas leaving money on the table. Remember, ask open-ended questions. Your goal should be to learn as much as you can before final agreement.
  2. Silence can be golden. No doubt you have heard of the “poignant pause” sometimes nicknamed the “pregnant pause”. People tend to talk a lot when they are nervous. Whether it be selling or negotiating, listen twice as much as you talk.

Let’s say you are the buyer and you make the make first offer (as you should). Your seller responds negatively to your offer with something like “…way too low…” Here’s your chance to demonstrate some restraint and say nothing in response. She may get nervous and begin talking to fill the void.   She may tell you something significant and useful. You may not have learned it had you been talking rather than listening.

  1. Control the pace of the negotiation. Sometimes, it is helpful to take a “time out” from the negotiation. Step away, take a breath and clear your head. Particularly if you feel the conversation is not going where you want to go.

Ask for a drink of water, a bathroom break, say you need to call your boss/board member/spouse…any excuse allowing you to make some notes and gather your wits will do. Does that sound wimpy? It’s better to sound wimpy than come out on the short end of a negotiation.

  1. Be prepared to walk away. If you have run into the ultimate negotiator or someone totally unwilling to compromise; politely excuse yourself. This will occasionally happen and you MUST be prepared to walk away. More times than not, calling the other’s bluff brings them closer to the middle.
  2. It’s not over, until it’s over. Let’s say the negotiation has been going on for a while. There has been significant give and take on both sides. Your buyer asks for something you just can’t give up. It is absolutely acceptable to go back and ask for a previously agreed to concession to be returned.

White Knights Don’t Exist in Business, Either

Guest blog by Ane Ohm

“When we hire our new sales leader, then we’ll grow.”

“A headhunter will find the right operations leader, then we’ll be more efficient.”

“Let’s bring in that consultant to develop our brand identity.”

You know the White Knight Syndrome, right? It’s waiting for a white knight to ride in and save the day. “I don’t know how to accelerate sales, or run our operations smoothly, or develop our brand… let’s bring in the experts and they’ll make it happen.”

If this is how you’re thinking about your business, you’re probably going to spend a lot of money with poor results. Then you’ll blame the new sales leader, the recruiter, or the consultant, when in fact the problem was you all along.

You’re busy, I get it. I’m busy, too, and it’s so nice to think that an expert can solve my problems. Unfortunately, I’ve learned the hard way that completely outsourcing my most important problems does not yield the results I want.

You can’t properly solve a problem without knowing what caused the problem in the first place.

If your sales are suffering, do you know why? Is it poor sales activity, your product, your competitors, or the market itself? Some great sales leaders will deliver a killer sales process, but can’t fix a sub-standard product or deal with an ailing market. How can you hire the right person if you don’t know what you need?

So please, hire a recruiter to help you – they can be a wonderful resource. But think: do you know what you really need (not just want) and does that person exist? Don’t expect recruiters to perform magic tricks. A great recruiter will ask many questions up front about skills, culture, and other top performers in your organization. Stay involved, and if you’re told you have unreasonable expectations, LISTEN.

As with so many things in life, the answer is simple, but not easy. If you don’t know what’s causing your problems, handing them to an outside expert is unlikely yield the results you want. The best experts want your active engagement, anyway.

Prioritize, engage, and be your own white knight.

Building Your Authenticity with Content Marketing

Guest blog by Bob Wendt 

Building Your Authenticity with Content Marketing

Let’s face it… Your customers are inundated with endless marketing claims in print, online, and in person. With nearly every company boasting that their product is “state of the art” or features “leading technology”…

How can customers distinguish you as the “real deal” compared to all the imposters out there?

The proven strategy I recommend is content marketing. It’s precisely what the name implies —Sharing quality content with your customers as an effective long-range marketing tool.

It looks like this…

In addition to your product/service offerings, your company website should also include relevant articles, tips, and how-to’s that your customers might find useful.  

“Why go through all that trouble?,” you ask. Your helpful tone and your generosity in sharing these extra resources make people much more likely to believe you’re someone they want to do business with. In fact, 82% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content (Demand Metric, 2014).

What’s more… Not only does content marketing enhance your brand and authenticity, it also produces RESULTS:

Website conversion rates are nearly 6 times higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters: 2.9% vs. 0.5%
(Source: Aberdeen Group, 2014)

Why? Content marketing keeps your business “top of mind” when customers are ready to make a purchase. It also makes people feel as though they’re buying from a trusted friend — one who has earned the right to their business.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, content marketing enhances your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), too! Learn how in Content Marketing: What Does Great Content DO for Your Business?

If you’re not regularly posting helpful information, tips, and ideas to engage the market and attract new customers, your competition will. Content marketing isn’t an extra these days — Content marketing is a MUST.

So ask yourself:

Does YOUR website portray trust and credibility — or does it simply make empty claims?  

Take a quick look to see what substantiates your marketing claims on your company’s site. Make sure you clearly show why you’re the industry authority that people should turn to for advice, guidance, and support — and they’ll be back when it’s time to BUY.

So get sharing your great content, and remember…

Trust is something you BUILD.

 

 

 

Takeaways from a West Point Leadership Workshop

In November, a number of Wisconsin TEC members attended a customized leadership development training at West Point, conducted by alumni of the Academy who are now retired after distinguished careers.

The Purpose: To gain first-hand understanding of the techniques practiced by the Academy in pursuit of its mission of “Developing Leaders of Character,” to understand why the techniques are successful, and to analyze how to incorporate them into our own company cultures to yield higher performance levels.

Key Takeaways

  • The West Point Way: When you develop your own “ABC Company Way,” that is disciplined, the energy, commitment and effectiveness of the organization increases substantially. The components are effectively the elements of your intentional culture, starting with the core values of who you are, and then including the key “what we do” elements.
  • Trust: You MUST be a Leader with TRUST which develops from consistent modeling of valued behaviors. They are essential elements of your leadership philosophy, which you must fully develop and SHARE!
  • After Action Reviews (AAR): After EVERY effort, there is a quick time taken to analyze what didn’t work as well as hoped, and what should/might be tried differently the next time. This assures continuous improvement/learning!
  • One-Third/Two-Thirds Planning Rule: The leader should spend no more than 1/3 of the planning time in communicating and explaining the Commander’s intent, and allow at least 2/3rds of the time for the planning team to develop its strategy.
  • Back Review: The planning team then reviews with the leader the strategy to insure it appears that it will achieve the objective.
  • It is each level of Leaders’ responsibility to assure the needs of his/her direct reports are taken care of before serving his/her own needs.
  • It’s important to develop a person as a competent Leader BEFORE he’s/she’s promoted to a position! Expose him/her to the elements of the job, and leadership elements, as much as possible IN ADVANCE.
  • Have a formal process, involving many people, looking for new trends that will impact you. Schedule feedback and/or analysis meetings.

Enhancing Your Leadership Identity

In one training session, LTG(ret.) Rhett Hernandez, once the highest-ranking Hispanic in the Army who both headed the Army’s Human Resource command and was in charge of cybersecurity/communications for the Army, spoke on this topic. Takeaways:

  • You want to be a Leader with PRESENCE! Includes: professional bearing, Yes. Also fitness: physical, ethical, competence, endurance! Confidence not cockiness or arrogance, which alienate resilience.
  • You MUST be a Leader with TRUST! That comes from consistency in modeling your valued behaviors Key! A MUST! This means: You must know what your driving values are and communicate them. They become the key part of your leadership philosophy. The rest of the elements are other ways of treating people, making things happen, and embracing customers that you want to have happen i.e., what makes your culture. (So, what is yours? Is it written … and articulated often? This is what you want your people to believe and do. It’s your “ABC WAY!”)
  • Your leadership philosophy allows you to:
    • Tell others what is important to you.
    • Establish expectations.
    • Highlight your intent and priorities.

Build Trust, Confidence, Credibility. Then: You must SHARE it!!

  • Communicate constantly to reduce anxiety, assure correct perception. It’s important. Don’t assume. “I used to walk the floor, talking to everyone by name. As we got larger, I assumed they knew I was traveling to benefit the organization and still cared about them. That assumption was wrong, I learned. I had to backtrack and let them know.”

Other Insights:

  • “As my commands got bigger and bigger, my hardest decision was deciding what I needed to decide on and what to stay delegated.”
  • Who are your leaders? Look at your people all of them. Who do people go to for advice? Who do they listen to? Develop them!
  • Yes, there’s a role for vulnerability. You’re not expected to know everything. “I don’t know. Let’s find out.”
  • Create an organization that people WANT to join! Build it so it attracts the ‘cream of the crop’ … like they are to West Point. Purpose Duty/Competence, Honor/Character, Country/Commitment

By Phil Hauck Chair, TEC 3, 13, 32