Saturday, March 31

Selling in the Zone 

Here's something that just came in from monster sales news:
Sell in the Zone
by Chris Lytle
Monster Contributing Writer

What is selling like when you are at your very best? How do you feel? How do you behave? How do your customers react? I asked a group of high tech salespeople and field service engineers those questions at an Orlando seminar. Here are some of their replies:

When I'm at my best, I:

Feel connected with the customer.

Feel valued.

Use more gestures.

Walk tall.

Sell without a lot of effort -- it flows.

Am energized.

Find the right words without a lot of thinking or effort.

Get the customer to participate and reveal real needs.

Am in the zone.

Have you ever been in the zone? You were so focused on the customer that you weren't worrying about whether or not you would make the sale?

Read full article here

Friday, March 30

Advice for New Managers 

by Matt Krumrie, Monster Contributing Writer

Getting your first management position can be exciting, but you may be in for some surprises once you're hired. That's what Jill Nelsen found out when she broke into fast-food restaurant management in California nearly 15 years ago. With a collegiate background in accounting and bookkeeping, Nelsen thought she'd be hiring people and crunching numbers. Instead, she spent most of her time dealing with teenagers working their first job, calling employees to cover missed shifts and mopping the floor late at night after working 12- to 16-hour shifts.

"Management is something you have to work into, not something that can necessarily be taught," says Nelsen.

Another problem, says Connie Sitterly, founder of Fort Worth, Texas-based Management Training Specialists, is that most companies reward employees by promoting them into management, whether they're ready for it or not.

"The biggest mistake of upper management is promoting the wrong people," says Sitterly. "A computer programmer may be great technically but might not have people skills."

Like it or not, you're going to have to develop those skills and change the way you do your work if you want to succeed as a manager. Here are some tips that seasoned pros say they wish they'd known from the start.

It's Not Just About You
"As a manager, the key difference is you no longer are evaluated as an individual contributor in the organization," says Florence Stone, a spokeswoman for the American Management Association (AMA), which offers a three-day seminar on management skills for new managers. "You now must work with your staff to achieve your department and your organizational goals. Your role is to work with others, to help them be productive and effective."

Stone offers these tips for first-time managers:
* Identify your department's goals and determine the resources needed to achieve them.
* Get to know each individual's needs, and find out what drives them.
* Observe each direct report's behavior to determine if there is sufficient knowledge, skill and motivation for the individual to complete the task.
* Delegate tasks and responsibilities to meet the department's objectives.
* Set clear expectations, understood by both you and your staff.
* Coach the individual for improved performance and his own professional development.
* Prepare for the unexpected.

Common Goals
Joni Wright has worked on both sides of the fence. She has been an employee trying to understand what her managers want from her, and is now a manager at a Twin Cities government agency trying to explain to her employees what she expects of them. First-time managers need to understand that, despite a difference in titles and responsibilities, the ultimate goal is the same.

"The two groups have more in common than they may realize," says Wright. "Though their job tasks are different, both want many of the same things. What is one of the biggest rewards for an employee? Being happy and successful in their work. What is probably the biggest reward for a supervisor? Seeing an employee happy and successful in their work."

But what it all comes down to, says Tom Cronin, New England-area manager for London-based Twinings and Company, is to remember that people are people, and even though they all have their little quirks and differences, the result is what matters.

"You have to understand everybody is different, and your job as a manager is to be able to cultivate ways for that person to succeed," says Cronin. "You're not always going to agree with them or the way they do things, but the end result is what matters. Treat people with respect, and provide the guidance and leadership they are looking for. People are people regardless of a title they hold. Remember that."

Thursday, March 22

How Do We Overcome a Culture of Distrust? 

I just came back from the awards ceremony for The Philadelphia Business Journal's Best Places to Work Awards. It was a great night. And it turns out, we have a LOT of great companies in the area that are doing all kinds of cool and wonderful things to develop their employees, communicate with them, and make them valued, respected, and committed - along with engendering a healthy sense of balance and fun too.

Then this morning, I came across this great Q&A from Workforce magazine's online newsletter. This company is obviously NOT a great place to work. Certainly, this company is in trouble culture-wise, but even with a healthy culture, these are good habits for every company interested in spreading truth and trust... all the way to the bottom line!

How Do We Overcome a Culture of Distrust and Get Employees to Share Information?

Q: According to an internal survey we conducted, our employees are fearful of sharing information with one another. They cite a variety of reasons. They believe the sharing of info will decrease personal success. They don't have time to share. They fear negative consequences. They do not trust their colleagues.

Hence, our people prefer to work like robots. In fact, there's a big problem of communication. We have no formalized coaching or mentoring programs in place either. How do we reverse the slide and begin the long climb back to open and honest workplace communication?
—Miserable Mistrust, quality assurance coordinator, hospitality, Rose-Hill, Mauritius

A: Communication is a direct reflection of your organization's corporate culture. Employees refuse to share information, or communicate only in limited fashion, because they have been conditioned to do so. At some point, your management team has sent the message, by word or deed, that such behavior is either acceptable or desired. It may also be an indication that there is a "disconnect" between employees and management.

To change the behavior, senior management must first commit to changing the company culture. Such change will most likely be slow and take time to produce measurable results.

The management team must start by making a comprehensive assessment of the company's communications policies and practices. This includes meetings at various levels, how new information or policies get introduced, and in-house media such as newsletters and bulletin boards.

In addition, the team should assess the impact of less direct contributors to communications: things like teamwork, team effectiveness, the performance appraisal process, open-door policies and the availability of staff to employees.

Once issues are identified, your management should be encouraged to take a revolutionary step: take these issues to employees for resolution. Focus groups at various levels of the organization can be formed to answer such questions as: What's wrong with communications at the company level? The department level? Team level? Upward/downward? Peer to peer?

Use a systemic approach to develop solutions to the problems you identify.

Employees in all probability will recognize critical issues and suggest workable solutions to problems. In the end, it is the leadership and behavior of your management team, including a commitment to effective communication, that gets things done. Here are some suggestions:

Address the performance appraisal process. Employees should be evaluated on how effectively they communicate. This should include their effectiveness in working on teams and their contribution to teamwork.

Create a company report card. It should show the company's good, bad and ugly on a monthly or quarterly basis. Areas graded can include finance, productivity, leadership and communication effectiveness.

Develop a mentoring process. Use employees that possess the desirable qualities you have identified to mentor and reinforce company values to new employees. This serves to combat existing deep-rooted cultural issues that can lead to poor communication. Mentors should be charged with the responsibility of creating trust through effective communication.

Develop a "high potentials" group. This would be a group of your best and brightest employees with the potential for leadership. Provide them with accelerated training on subjects such as leadership, company values, business ethics and, of course, effective communication in various forms—the cornerstone of leadership and trust.

Make shared communications important. Clearly spell out the company's vision of quality communication. Evaluate employees' communication in a meaningful way. Weight the value of good communication as heavily as competencies such as productivity and safety.

Reward suggestions. Encourage employees to make suggestions for improvement at all levels of the organization. Recognize employees whose suggestions get implemented. The rewards do not have to be monetary or large to have a positive impact on your workforce.

SOURCE: Lonnie Harvey Jr., SPHR, president, the Jesclon Group, Rock Hill, South Carolina, September 27, 2006.

Tuesday, March 20

Translate business strategies into clear objectives and tactics 

Translate business strategies into clear objectives and tactics


Most managers acknowledge the importance of planning and goal setting. Sometimes, however, time pressures get in the way. Setting aside time to identify and develop your business goals and strategies is the first step in improving your ability to plan and manage effectively.

In order to develop successful plans, it is necessary for managers both to understand their organization's strategic vision and to incorporate that vision into their plans and day-to-day operations. To clarify and increase your understanding in this area, ask yourself questions such as:
* What is the organization's strategic vision?
* What does that mean for me and my unit?
* What are the future opportunities?
* What talents and resources will I need to accomplish my part?

Once you have developed business strategies, translate them into clear objectives and tactics. Consider the following suggestions:

* Once you and your people have developed your vision and mission, work with them to formulate strategies, specific objectives, and tactics to accomplish the objectives.
* Review your department’s strategies, objectives, and tactics for compatibility with the organization’s strategic plans.
* Identify colleagues who appear to have well-defined strategic plans. Ask what process they used to develop objectives and tactics.
* Ask your direct reports to submit an annual work plan for your review and then use their ideas to construct an operational plan for the department.
* Plan an off-site retreat with your direct reports to brainstorm and choose the most viable tactics for reaching objectives.
* Communicate your department’s business strategies and objectives to peers in other departments. Seek input on objectives and tactics that might affect them.

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