OK, so you’ve got this great new tool now. You know that anytime someone’s performance fails to meet your expectations, there are only 5 possible reasons. But how do you actually apply this knowledge at work?
Let’s learn by example:
Kathy, our sales manager, was expecting to come into the office today and find all of her direct reports sitting in the conference room getting briefed on the new products. Instead, everyone is at their desks, on their phones, talking to customers as usual. Kathy is understandably unhappy. In fact, the only time in your life that you have been unhappy is when your expectations were not met.
Bob, her chief of staff, was supposed to make this training happen. Being a professional manager, Kathy takes a deep breath, reminds herself that she is just going to deal with the facts, and asks Bob into her office for a quick meeting. “Bob, I had expected to come in this morning and find everyone in sales training, but it looks to me like that didn’t happen,” Kathy opens. By taking this approach, instead of venting her frustration on Bob, Kathy has left herself an “out” in case she is wrong about what appears to be going on.
For example, Bob might say “Oh, that’s not until this afternoon. Everyone agreed to bring a brown bag lunch and meet in the cafeteria at noon so that it doesn’t take away from selling time.” It’s also possible that Bob might tell you that the divisional VP called at the last minute and postponed the training because there are some regulatory difficulties with the product. In fact, almost anything is possible at the point, but one thing is very likely: Bob will start apologizing.
But that’s not why we are here, so Kathy will put the discussion back on the rails with “Thanks, Bob, but the reason I called you in here was to find out what happened. So, which of the ‘5 Reasons’ is it?” Bob knows EXACTLY what Kathy is talking about because Kathy sat down with him when he was hired and told him all about the “5 Reasons” and gave him a list of them to hang on his cubicle wall.
Kathy starts at the top and goes down the list because they are in the order of frequency of occurrence. “Did you know WHAT I wanted you to do?” Kathy waits for an answer. “Did you know HOW to do it?” And so forth.
It won’t take long to find out that Bob never got Kathy’s memo. Or perhaps Bob thought that sales training consisted of just passing out a brochure, like at his last company. Or maybe Bob was told by the HR person that his training budget for the quarter is exhausted. Or he might have tried to do the training, but got paralyzed by stage fright. Or maybe Bob doesn’t believe that training sales people is part of his job description and he just kind of “forgot” about it.
Whatever the outcome, by the end of the meeting Kathy and Bob will have an agreement on what happened, and they may have even figured out what to do about it. (If it was one of the first three reasons, the solution might be simple. The last two tend to be more difficult to formulate a solution for.)
So, what are the key elements to getting to this happy ending?
1. Keep your cool
2. Have a shared vision
3. Stick to the script
Secondly, ensure that you and your people are on the same page in terms of management style. Ideally, you will have the “5 Reasons” meeting with everyone BEFORE you need to use it. They need time to get familiar with the new model before they try to use it. Sit down with them and explain your new system and give them list of the “5 reasons” that they can take with them and hang on their cubicle wall or keep in their notebook or whatever.
Third, stick to the script. Have a one-on-one with the responsible party and tell them:
- What you had expected (A sales training this morning)
- How things appear (No sales training is happening)
- What we are going to do in this meeting (Identify which of the 5 reasons is at work here)
Old habits die hard, so don’t allow yourself to get drawn into apologies, blame, anger, threats or promises. We are just here to talk about the facts: Do you want to do this job? Can you do this job? What is standing in the way of your success?
At Farsyte, we believe that the secret to building the best sales team in the world is investing in your front-line sales managers. We are like personal trainers, working with your high-potential sales managers to unlock their potential to be great sales leaders. Our system uses a unique combination of assessment tools, mobile apps and one-on-one coaching to actually change their behavior, from trying to manage each sale, to multiplying sales by empowering their teams for maximum performance.