Start the Year with a Motivated Team
The New Year can herald a new beginning for the relationship you have with your employees and the relationship they have with you and your company. It’s the start of a new year, your employees are returning from some quality time with their family hopefully, and if you’re not careful they will drift back to work with the same degree of enthusiasm as when they left last year. That might be fine, if you have a highly motivated staff but wouldn’t it be great to kick it up a notch anyway?
January is a perfect time to let your staff know what your vision is for the coming year and make some commitments to them. And of course, get them to renew their commitment to you and your company.
So, call a team meeting of all your employees. To make it easy, here’s a few ideas for the agenda.
- Review your vision, goals and objectives for the year and outline how each member of the team can play an integral part.
- Review the progress you made towards your goals last year.
- Recognize how your employees have helped you get to where you are today. Talk about how individual members of the team have contributed to the company’s success to date.
- Encourage them to be part of the discussion and to put forward ideas on growing the company and reaching departmental and interdepartmental goals.
- Let your team know what’s in it for them if the company reaches its goals.
- Commit to keeping them informed regularly as to the company’s progress.
- Discuss potential gaps in knowledge and skills. Ask if anyone needs additional training or management assistance. When you provide the proper training and support to employees and then let go so that they can do their jobs, you increase their independence and ability to take more ownership of their role. This leads to retention, which is more money in your pocket.
- Talk about empowerment and trust. Discuss allowing them greater independence to do their job without being micromanaged. They will be more accountable, more productive and happier in their jobs.
- Increasingly, employees value flexibility above higher salary. Flexibility is motivating and shows you trust your employees. If your workplace is one where flexibility around hours or location are not possible, find ways to be flexible within your required business parameters and your employees will respond positively.
- Brainstorm random ideas for the coming year with no holds barred. Let your team’s creativity lead the way and have fun.
- Arrange to meet one-on-one with each employee (this may depend on the number of employees you have – but in a larger company, senior managers can assist). Rather than this being an employee evaluation treat this as an opportunity for your staff to feel safe in telling you how you are doing. This exercise will enable you to quickly evaluate how motivated individuals and the team in general are at the beginning of this new year.
- Make the meeting a celebration. Start the year off celebrating what you are planning to achieve during the coming year. This can be as simple as ordering Chinese takeaway or as exciting as an outdoor team-building exercise.
You can use all these ideas, or just a few of them. The key to starting a new year off well is to motivate your employees by showing them you care about them and appreciate their input in helping make your company bigger and better in 2019.
Secrets of a Sales Rep – Episode Three
The Chameleon in Action
The following article was written by Mike Wicks; he is currently an author and ghostwriter, but in his early career he was a professional salesman. He has developed dozens of sales and marketing courses and delivered hundreds of hours of sales and marketing training during his career. He is also an adviser with University of Victoria’s Innovation Centre of Entrepreneurship. “The Chameleon in Action” is the third in a series of articles in which he shares with readers his secrets of sales success. The second “Secrets” article was published in this publication in June 2018.
In my last “secrets’ post I talked about how I became a chameleon with a bookshop manager. In this post, I’d like to provide another example of how this can work in real life selling. Regular readers will know I used to be a salesperson for a British book publishing company.
When I was a trainee sales rep – I’m talking some 40-years ago – I remember a morning where I was out with a senior rep. He had asked me to turn up at a railway bookstall in Central London at 5:00am. I was of course not a happy camper as like many teenagers I did not like to be up before the sun!
I arrived as requested and was immediately instructed to remove my jacket and help unload a truck full of daily newspapers. I was unsure as to what was going on, after all I was a sales rep not a delivery boy! We worked for about 30-minutes and then went for a coffee in the back of the bookstall. Now these bookstalls used to sell a lot of softcover books – millions of people traveled through these railway stations every day. I enjoyed my coffee – surprisingly laced as it was with whisky – but was still confused. After an hour of swapping very off-colour jokes with the manager and some of his staff the conviviality stopped, and my trainer got out his sales folder and started presenting the new books we had for sale that month. He got an excellent order and when we left via the back door there was a line-up of other book reps waiting their turn. The old rep looked at me and said, “Guess who got first dibs on Fred’s monthly book buying budget?” It was then I realized why the early start and why the little bit of labouring so early in the morning.
Later that day, back out on my own, I visited a small, but high-end bookstore in suburbia. The middle-aged owner welcomed me and said that she had noticed me arrive ten-minutes earlier and sit in my car waiting for my appointment time. In future she said, if she wasn’t with another rep, I was welcome to come in early.
I started to present my new titles. Within a minute or so, she looked at me and asked why there were so many gaps in my presentation folder. These gaps were missing book jackets. She went on to say that this surprised her as I was always so well organized in every other way.
Not quite sure what to say, I admitted that I always arrived a little early and sat in the car removing all the jackets from books that I felt might offend her (we published some rather salacious titles back then) and that she would certainly not be interested in buying them anyway. She looked at me and said something that I have never forgotten, “Ooh, you’re just the sort of young man I’d like my daughter to marry!” My immediate thought was, “Not if you had seen me early this morning drinking whisky and telling very blue jokes!”
So, you see, selling is about recognizing that everyone is different and respecting that enough to alter your behaviour just a little to make them feel more comfortable. As a trainee I was given that customer, a small bookstore in a place called Ruislip, because she never ordered much. After the incident above, the owner scoured my backlist for suitable titles and the bookstore became a valuable account.
Coach’s Corner – Making Habits Stick
Often, we have great intentions for a new year. We have grand ideas of how we will change and become better. With this in mind, it’s best to focus on one habit to ensure it sticks around long enough to actually become a habit.
Here are a few thoughts and questions you might ask yourself that may help you overcome the odds of not succeeding.
What is the one habit you would like to gain in this new year? What is important to you about incorporating this habit? What do you feel will be achieved by adopting it? How will it improve your personal or business life? Knowing yourself and understanding why it’s important to you is one of the first keys to being successful in implementing habits.
How can you use, or connect it, to other habits you already have? What can you learn from those past habits you added? What worked for you? If we look back and see where we have acquired some good habits, it will often help us see what worked for us then and how that may help us now.
How do you start adopting the habit? What steps are you going to take? How do you ensure you don’t become overwhelmed and easily defeated? Whatever the habit, it’s advisable to take small measurable steps that can easily be attained and incorporated into the routine you wish to achieve. Thinking about how you start, and then how you incrementally add steps over a period of time may thwart failure. Keeping it challenging but not overwhelming is a key to successful integration.
How will you acknowledge your achievement of incorporating this habit into your routine? What small successes need to be celebrated? Celebrating those successes often ensures you will continue and move forward. Letting others know what you are trying to achieve not only adds a level of accountability, it may also be helpful in the celebration of achieving the intermediate steps.
The key to successfully adding any desired habit, is to become very focused and almost fanatical about it. If it is truly important to you, then you need to prioritize it for the time it takes to make it a habit. By continually asking the question, “Why is this important to me?” you will develop the heightened awareness and focus necessary to incorporate the desired habit.
“Repetition of the same thought or physical action develops into a habit which, repeated frequently enough, becomes an automatic reflex.” Norman Vincent Peale, Clergyman, Author
Paul Abra, Motivated Coaching