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Personal development

Clean up your own back yard, before criticising others

It’s an easy path to take to criticise others when you are not doing well. However this always reflects poorly on you. I was reminded of this important lesson in a meeting recently where we were brainstorming and were asked to only look within the current year. I automatically only looked at the items that were within my sphere of control.

In a debrief after the session I realised I automatically look at only the things I can control, as beyond that the time and effort involved is significantly greater. My colleagues had a laundry list, very few were within the sphere of control.

Focusing on what you can control to create the right outcome is far more successful than being dependent on others. I use the analogy of a neglected back yard, the weeds are out of control and you cannot see the fence at the back of the yard. Focus on clearing up your yard, before looking over the fence at your neighbours and commenting on how neglected their garden is.

In a previous chapter of my career, I took on a underperforming sales team. I was constantly asked about what others were doing in other areas and always said, I have enough to sort out in my own backyard, that I don’t have the capacity or time to worry about everyone else’s.

That focus and strategy led to turning around an underperforming sales team. That focus has allowed my teams to flourish as we are always maximising what we have control of, instead of consuming time worrying about what everyone else is doing.

Dales Carnegie illustrates this lesson well in his How to win friends and influence people book, Chapter on don’t criticise, condemn and complain.

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Personal development

Strong ideas loosely held is the path to success.

Often our opinions are not heard by leaders, whether bias, credibility or other reasons. In that moment when there is no acknowledgement or you are shot down or the conversation moves on to someone who is listened to far more than you, you know that you flogging a dead horse. One of my colleagues has a saying “put it in the drawer and dust it down in two years”. When she told me this, I was puzzled. The reason: when I don’t get heard I keep going in the hope the message will land. Repetition irritates others and hope is never a strategy, its better to take my colleagues advice and move on and put the suggestion in the drawer for another day.

Strong opinions are often based on bias, so we need to consider our first position as an initial hypothesis, until we uncover further information to develop an opinion. Source https://medium.com/@ameet/strong-opinions-weakly-held-a-framework-for-thinking-6530d417e364. We need to actively seek out contradictory information instead of clinging to an opinion.

In the words of John Gruber: Strong ideas loosely held is the path to success. The inference is not to cling to your original idea, decision, or forecast even in the face of contradictory information. In fact, actively seek the contradictory information — this provides you with data to iteratively improve the situation or forecast, until you get to the right answer.

If you have not disproved your original opinion, when the opportunity comes knocking, you dust down your opinion and off you go for round 2! However by now you may also have a greater groundswell of support and evidence, but what was implemented is not working.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book Blink: the power of thinking without thinking , makes the argument that people frequently make some of their best decisions in mere seconds. We think without thinking, sizing up situations and determining how we feel about someone or something based not on voluminous new information, but rather on our accumulated experience.

The alternative is that other facts or information have emerged, which demonstrates your opinion or idea was ill informed and its time to well and truly move on. This is also a great personal learning to reflect on what bias created the strong opinion in the first place?

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Personal development

Connecting with your peers and leaders

A common question I get asked is how to connect with peers and leaders in the business, when there is not the opportunity to meet with them in your daily work.

Here are three ways you can connect to a wider circle in your organisation:

1. Share insights, information that you know will be valuable to the receiver. An example is being close to the customers I get to hear what is happening in the market, trends, changes in leadership and more. With this information I would text my boss and bosses, so they knew what was going on. My team also do the same thing, as we work in frontline of sales. I also send a weekly update across the division and beyond as people ask to be added to the distribution. The update contains key information on what is happening in the team, whats in the news relative to the customers we manage, insights, key frustrations for customers and focus for the following week.

2. When you spot a problem, Don’t walk past it, thinking its not your area. Own the development of the problem statement along with interested peers. Set up a workshop to outline the problem and brainstorm solutions with people that are interested in resolving the issue. This is an opportunity to get a cross functional team across the problem. The owner of the solution always emerges. Phenomenal opportunity to work with an extended network in your company

3. Praise your colleagues and leaders by thanking them personally in a call, email and internal workplace. Be specific about what they have done and utilise the company values to call out the behaviour that supported the value, and ensure your include their boss and bosses boss if relevant . We all love to be praised, recognising others is a great way to connect with your colleagues and leaders. Also call out your boss or leader if they have done something that inspires you, helps you or just for caring. It’s important for them as it is for you to be valued.

Creating connection with others is critical to being successful. The wider the network the more effective you can be in your role.

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Book Quotes Coaching High Performing Teams Judgement Leadership Legacy Mentoring Personal development

How do you develop a high performing team?

Are you in a team where you feel you belong? you loved getting out of bed every day and connecting with your peers, they inspired you, you felt safe to share your vulnerabilities, felt safe to challenge the norm and together you delivered outstanding results?

Patrick Lecioni’s story of the Five dysfunctions of a team, is about the foundations that have to be in place to be a high performing team. As a leader your role is to create a safe environment for the team to express themselves without judgement and actively encourage the team to challenge, so the team can develop and remain highly engaged.

Here are the seven steps for you as the leader to build a high performing team:

  1. Build the strategy for the year ahead together with the team. Why is this important? buy in, engagement, influence, debate and ownership. https://angelalovegrove.com/2019/11/25/how-do-you-construct-and-deliver-strategy/
  2. Once the strategy is in place. Reviewing progress(monthly/quarterly): what’s working and not working, is essential with the team. Celebrate every success along the way, as the motivation for the team is critical. When parts are not working; Ask the team why they think it’s not working? what should we do? Amend the strategy and don’t forget to share the learning. At the back of the book 5 dysfunctions of a team, there is a survey and action plans on each of the 5 dysfunctions, use this with your team quarterly to see which area of the 5 dysfunctions need attention.
  3. On the bus/off the bus. If the commitment of an individual or individuals is not there, tackle the situation head on. What is the issue? Is it behavioral? Get on top of this quickly as having a detractor in the team can slow the whole team, even if they are outstanding performers. Toxic individuals can bring a whole team down.
  4. During Covid19 my business coach delivered a 6 week team coaching session on resilience. The lessons from these sessions was it created psychological safety for the team, we all shared more that we had done in the last 6 months, the result was more trust than you can ever imagine. https://angelalovegrove.com/2020/06/03/just-completed-a-6-week-resilience-team-coaching-during-the-pandemic/ Highly recommend running or getting an external facilitator to run team coaching on resilience.
  5. Another lesson during Covid19, the importance of regular 30 minute check ins without an agenda. Time to catch up and share, more recently the challenges for the team in Melbourne.
  6. Personal development plans for each team member. Tailoring to the ability and need of the individual. This is critical for motivation and development. Being able to clearly articulate the difference between average, above average and excellent with clear examples of what they need to deliver helps them understand how they can be more successful.
  7. Work with your team members to find internal and external mentors. This is so powerful, there are many times I have had individuals looking to move into different areas of the business and I have found them a mentor in that area and within 12 months they have secured a role.

Diversity is key to the above being successful. If you have inherited a team with poor diversity, here are some additional steps that you will need to take:

1. If you are in a corporate with a graduate program, go and introduce yourself to the Graduate talent manager, find out why graduates would find coming to your part of the business interesting and become a “destination for graduates”. They really know how to shake up a culture with their drive and curiosity.

2. Find talent in other parts of the business looking for a challenge and secure them on a secondment to deliver key components of the strategy. This is a true win/win in business for the individual and for the company.

3. Ensure the minorities are well supported and take time to understand any poor behavior. In my experience where you have low diversity of age, culture, gender and LBGT, you will have behaviors that will not be acceptable.

4. Expect to take 12-24 months to fix.

There are many leaders who believe the term “high performing teams” is overused. For me it is absolutely essential as a leader to create the environment that people can thrive and deliver outstanding results and that by definition is High performing teams.

I wish you all the best with building a high performance team.

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High Performing Teams Personal development Sales leadership

Toxic Sales Cultures

Not a day goes by when this topic is not discussed. In the last week I have met with a number of people in the tech industry and the theme is consistent the days of “just get your number” are on the brink of extinction. There are some last bastions of this approach, but they are usually devoid of women, diversity and team work.

Yes coaching for success and making your people feel great so they can be successful is the only way to truly a high performing team in sales. If you work in a culture which is “just get your number”  then its important to know the new world of sales is very different.  The new world is about building a territory plan, working on the execution and coaching for success.

The “bully boy” approach may work with some men and young women who know no other way, there is a far more successful approach. HR practitioners, ensure you are not protecting the bully boy behaviour!

We need more sales people and the “50’s” method of get your number, is a way to put people off sales for life. It does not need to be that way. We could ensure more people are successful, and that will breed more success, Sales can have a great name and thrive in a great culture instead of a tribal culture, where the ones that know how to get results succeed the the others leave. This culture celebrates lone wolf behaviour which is detrimental to the well being of others in the team. The getting results is not by means we all know, they can be gaming the system, favouritism by the boss leading to the best portfolio and other scam that makes you look successful.  These cultures are toxic and lead to what looks like good sales results, but the underlying damage to customers is long term deterioration of revenue and customer satisfaction.

5 signs that the toxic behaviours are embedded:

1. Salespeople are under so much pressure to achieve numbers they create ways to achieving it dishonestly. Here are some of the worst I have personally experienced: photocopying signatures on contracts, selling a lesser product which does not fit business needs in order to sign a new Sale, but destroying the customer experience. Sell products that are later credited due to customer not understanding what they have signed.

2. “Best performing” sales people rewarded with best portfolios when their previous portfolio, signed business which is now hit with credits due to poor selling. The incoming sales person’s performance is radically impacted without the previous sales person being impacted.

3. Lone wolfs are celebrated, as they are seen as successful. One of the side effects of individual targets, is there no such thing as team players, everyone is out for themselves.

4. Gaming of territory and portfolio is rife in order to secure the target. Letters are written from the customer asking for a specific sales person or another person signing a customer knowing they are not in their portfolio.

5. Overcharging, not cancelling products that are not used, not passing on discounts that new customers have access to, all erode the trust with a customer. Not being a “trusted advisor” in account management is only going to result in the customer churning to the competition. In a toxic sales culture, salespeople work on the short term principle on the customer focused principle of Life time value.

The future of great sales cultures, is one that is supportive, nurturing, diverse, customer focused, group targets, to develop collaboration, leverage skills across the team, every success is celebrated no matter how small, lone wolf behaviour is not accepted, diversity is the norm.