There has been quite a bit written about mission statements and goal setting, and perhaps just as much being ignored or abandoned. We may think about it and write down a few items but soon become mired in the daily grind of life and forget them. This is exactly what each of your people are about to experience without your help.
Your team should be your complete focus for the next two weeks. Whether you have a December 31st business year end or a March 31st fiscal year end, there is always more openness to do something different at the start of a new calendar year! Take advantage of this new year excitement and optimism, when you can truly inspire and connect with each person on your team. Every great leader is a coach and a teacher at their core. The goal is not to be the sole source of motivation, but rather boost their internal motivation that will guide each of your team members towards a successful year that they “own.” The next two weeks allow you to harness their creative energy, passion, and desire.
Most leaders approach the subject of planning by simply providing quotas and compensation plans, assuming their people will figure out how to accomplish them. In some instances, leaders will ask for a plan on how their people intend to make the numbers. Unfortunately, they are missing the opportunity to provide a “gift” to each of their team members. One that will continue to pay dividends on a personal and professional basis.
Don’t forget the human element when talking to your salespeople. How many of your salespeople feel like “machinery” being asked to produce more revenues at ever increasing speeds in a more complex environment? How confident are you that you have a positive, personal connection with your team members? Do you know their significant other’s names? Do you know if they have kids or pets and what their names are? If you don’t, you likely don’t have a personal connection with them. You have a reporting relationship. Outside of work, how do they enjoy spending their time?
I would highly recommend scheduling time with each of your people, in a casual environment, to have a conversation about THEM. Not the business, not their quotas, not their accounts, not their performance… make it exclusively about them, as people.
There are several critical things you should seek to learn about your people:
- How well do you know each of them – their family, personal challenges, and even long-term goals?
- Do you understand their personal goals? What are their personal agendas? What “drives” them? Do you know their professional goals? Each of your people are working for you to accomplish professional AND personal goals.
- How can you help them? What obstacles do they perceive? Where can you provide personal value to them? How can the upcoming year advance their professional goals?
- Are their goals “BIG enough?” You are in a position to see more of their potential than they can see in themselves. Can you challenge them to expand their thinking?
People are more likely to stay in the job and be high performers when they see how they contribute to the organization’s mission, when they feel known and appreciated by their leader, and when the future will help them with their personal and professional goals. You need to strive to fulfill this with your good employees, so they won’t be enticed to go elsewhere.
It is proven most salespeople are motivated financially. Yet, on the business level, it is amazing to learn how few salespeople truly understand their compensation plans or how to maximize their personal income. Rarely do leaders focus on helping their people create plans to achieve the maximum income level for the upcoming year. Either they believe each person will figure it out or they simply haven’t thought about the issue. Every compensation plan has a critical path. What are the key actions or essential tasks that can drive their compensation? What personal habits or steps can enable them to best achieve their professional goals?
The six essential take-aways are:
- Schedule a conversation with each of your people. Be informal about the approach. Share you want to use time at the beginning of the year to sit with each team member and catch up. The intent is to get to know each of your people… as people.
- The conversation should be personal. You need to connect with each of them as people before you engage on the business level. Don’t try to pepper in business or it will feel as though you really had a business agenda for the meeting. Ask each of your people about their personal goals and aspirations at a high level. They may go deeper, but that is up to them. You want to uncover if you could help in some manner, if appropriate. Once you’ve understood their personal goals and agendas, you should schedule a different meeting to advance to a business conversation. Review compensation plans with each person. Help them figure out how they can maximize their income over the year. Listen to their interests to see if you can make recommendations to improve their probability of accomplishment.
- Ask each person to create a plan for achieving their personal and professional goals.
- Make sure you are reviewing these goals with them on a quarterly basis.
This is the most important time of year for you and your team. If you take this exercise seriously, you will see a new level of self-determination and excitement among your people. You’ll be able to help them stay on track by reviewing and coaching them going forward. You will experience better levels of engagement, retention, and overall success.
Prioritize each of your people and immediately schedule personal and business conversations. Massive action will yield massive reward. Coach them and gain agreement to review these topics on a quarterly basis.