If You Choose to Manage…

At last week’s Seller Forum we published a few top line ideas for managers in our hyper-kinetic, often dysfunctional world. We’re reprinting them here.  Please feel free to share your own.

Don’t try to manage what’s inside the heads of your employees. Instead, focus on their actions. Don’t try to change their minds. Change their behaviors and they’ll end up changing their own minds.

Don’t use meetings and personal interactions to share information that could be delivered in other ways. Reserve your personal interactions with employees and teams to do what you can only do in person – coaching, prioritizing, planning, deciding.

Many managers overburden themselves and their teams with too many scheduled meetings. But management doesn’t fit into neat little boxes on your calendar. Focus instead on maintaining a helpful and healthy presence with your team. Accessibility and being able to focus intently in-the-moment are the superpowers that matter.

As a manager, you quickly become the PEZ dispenser of answers on a million tactical questions. About price, escalation, exceptions and more. Force your sellers to bring you two possible solutions each time they bring you a problem (see item 1 above). This change in the script will turn them from problem-bringers into problem-solvers and make your interactions far more productive.

As soon as a seller elicits your help – on strategy, on an email, in reaching a customer – immediately ask them for a first-draft. You want to put yourself in a position to coach and improve the work they do… not to do it for them.

Don’t give feedback. As a term, feedback has become tainted by association with criticism, nitpicking and negativity. It’s also always about the past. Instead, give guidance… it’s about the future, about possibility. Language matters.

No team is too small or too temporary to benefit from a strong culture, and that culture starts with you. Get in touch with the specific values that matter most to you as a leader – tenacity, generosity, curiosity, whatever – and share them directly with your team. Invite them to hold you accountable to those values and bring them up frequently. Don’t worry if you get a few eye-rolls; it doesn’t mean they’re not hearing you or that it’s not making a difference.

Don’t manage results. Manage excellence. You don’t control whether your team gets the business, but you absolutely control whether they deserve it. Focus on deserving it and you’ll be leading a team centered on excellence. The results will follow.

Insights like these are just the beginning. Join us for our final 2019 Seller Forum on Wednesday, October 23rd, at Reuters on Times Square and enjoy firsthand ideas and advice from your digital leadership peers. Contact us today to save your spot.

Don’t Blink.

Managers tend to get caught up in the big, structured, scheduled acts of management.  The weekly sales meeting.  The monthly one-to-one conversations with your direct reports. The performance reviews.  We think that if we plan and execute these well enough, we will have managed…and that the stuff that happens in between will take care of itself.

There are also parents who focus only on the big vacation or attending the school play or coaching the soccer team on Saturday.  Sure, all that stuff is important, and you should get it right.  But you’ve still got to be there for your kid and for your employee in the moment.  Most of the great opportunities to manage aren’t scheduled; they come and go in the blink of an eye.  The problem that’s just arisen.  The firefight that’s just broken out between two of your team members.  The out of control email discussion.  The moment of self-doubt that your seller is experiencing.  You can’t plan for all of them, but here are a few of the great moments broken down.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Salesforce DMP. Salesforce DMP allows you to capture, unify, and activate your data to strengthen consumer relationships across every touchpoint. Find out more here.

Slow it down.  What your employees bring you is often important, always urgent.  You’ll always deal with the situation better if you buy a little time.  “I know this is important.  I need a little time to work through it with you.  Let’s meet at 2:30 today for a few minutes.”  The lack of instant gratification is a good lesson all by itself.

Give homework.  While you’re slowing things down, force your team member to do some of the critical thinking.  “When we get back together, please bring me two possible solutions to the problem.”  Not one, two.  Making them consider a backup plan is forcing them to engage in critical thinking.

Break it down.  The big, hairy problem that’s plaguing your team member is actually a bunch of little problems and dependencies stuck together.  A great manager doesn’t just cough up a solution: she takes the time to break it down and force a conversation on how we’ll get to a solution.

Ask how they’re doing.  Then ask again.  Whether it’s during an issue-based exchange or just on the spur of the moment, hit the pause button and ask your employee how he’s doing.  And then, after he give you “fine,” ask again.  Ask what he’s excited about.  Ask where he’s challenged and where you can help.

Be fully there.  In these or any exchanges with team members, remember that attention is relationship currency.  You buy their engagement, belief and performance with your full attention.  If you’re perpetually distracted, multitasking or checking your phone, then your currency becomes virtually worthless.  Your managerial superpower goes unused.

Your moment to be a great manager is here.  Don’t blink:  you’ll miss it.