Welcome to “The Tuesday Quick Tip.” Every Tuesday, I’ll be publishing, on this blog, a short, 1 to 2 paragraph tip to help you achieve success in your life, business or career. You can also receive “The Tuesday Quick Tip,” by email, along with our weekly videos and a free “Time Management Workbook,” when you sign up for a free subscription to my email list.
Self-esteem comes from doing and accomplishing. It doesn’t come from empty praise. The key is to create winning streaks for your people. If you want to build the self-esteem of your employees, and your children for that matter, start them off with tasks to do where they couldn’t possibly fail. As they accomplish those easier tasks, their confidence will build. Now, start slowly increasing the difficulty of the tasks. As they start to accomplish the more difficult tasks, their confidence will go through the roof; their self-esteem will skyrocket and they’ll start believing they can accomplish anything: which they probably can.
If you’re interested in learning more about employee motivation, attend my 90 minute webinar for managers, executives and business owners: “Leadership Skills: Creating Self-Motivated Staff,” on Thursday July 21st at 12 noon Eastern Time. For more information and to sign up, CLICK HERE.
I have a good friend and fraternity brother, Dr. Alan Zaremba, who is a Professor of Communications at Northeastern University in Boston. Many years ago, to stay in shape, he started running. It almost became an obsession with him. He ran so much and so often that he started running marathons. When I asked, “Why are you running so much and why marathons,” he said, “So that I can eat like a pig.” The moral of the story: Everybody is motivated by something different, and, people do things for their reasons, not yours.
As a manager, executive or business owner, assuming all the people that report to you are the same and are all motivated by the same things, is not only stupid, it’s lazy and counterproductive.
Would you assume that all your clients are the same? Better yet, if you have kids, especially if you have more than one, I’ll bet there’s no way you can tell me your kids are exactly the same.
I know my kids, Michael, 23 and Emily, 19 are as different as night and day. Michael is part leader, part non-conformist. He’ll do something just because nobody else is doing it. I’m convinced that if underage drinking and illegal drugs were something high school kids NEVER did, Michael would’ve been stumbling home drunk and high every day. Luckily the opposite was true.
Emily, on the other hand, is a follower, and while she’s gotten much better since starting college, she’s still WAY more comfortable as part of a group. She’s extremely social (alright she likes to party), has had boy friends (notice the plural) since 9th grade, is a member of a sorority, and is far more likely to let someone else lead.
Michael, while a friendly and well-liked person, who maintains a small circle of friends, is a bit anti-social. He has no problem doing things on his own. When he was in college, no way he was joining a frat. He lives by himself in an apartment in New York. He likes to go to concerts, restaurants and movies by himself.
Michael is so cheap he can make a dollar bill yell “Uncle.” He not only supports himself in NYC on an entry level salary, but he’s saving money. Emily has a black belt in shopping.
Michael likes baseball, music and eating (a lot). Emily likes shopping, Broadway musicals, hanging with friends and her boyfriend and going to parties.
Does this make one kid better than the other? No way. They’re both great kids. It just means they’re different and they’re motivated by different things.
When Michael graduated high school, his gift was a trip to San Francisco to see the Giants play (3 games; we won 2), and stuff his face in some great restaurants.
When Emily graduated high school, we took her to London, where she had a great time spending a week visiting with her brother (who was there on a study abroad program), hitting every store on Oxford Street and seeing “Jersey Boys.”
If all your incentives and rewards are the same for everyone, how do you get them all excited about it? Guaranteed there’s a huge percentage of your staff who couldn’t care less about contests you might think are fantastic.
If you’re not willing to invest some time knowing what makes each one of your people tick, the same way you spend time trying to understand the specific needs of each client, why should your people care one bit about the needs of the company or the clients?
Most sales forces break down into three groups: The top 10 percent are self-motivated achievers; The bottom 10 percent should be fired; and the other 80 percent are totally average. The difference between a successful sales manager and an unsuccessful one is how the manager deals with all three groups. Learn how in my latest article appearing this month in Sales Force XP magazine.
One theme I spoke on is how being a great manager or leader is a lot like being a great parent (Of course, in my experience as both, I’ve noticed you hear a hell of a lot more whining as a manager). I talked about 8 keys to creating self-motivated people that work for your staff as well as your kids. One of my favorites keys is: “Expect the best.”
When you expect the best from people and not only communicate that fact, plus let them know you have confidence they can do it, you’ll be amazed at how often you get the best. The opposite is also true.
Have you ever witnessed a parent who tells a child, “You’ll never amount to anything. Everything you touch turns to crap?” Then, some years later they get a call telling them their kid’s been arrested and they’re amazed. What are you amazed about? You predicted it! You should be proud. You were right!
Years ago, I had a boss who taught me everything about how NOT to be a great leader. He held sales meetings Friday afternoon at 5:30PM. His purpose was to ruin our weekends. Every meeting started the same way. We would sit in his office, silently, while he sat behind his desk staring at us for about 30 seconds. Finally, he’d look up and say, “I just want youse guys (Brooklyn native) to know, youse all suck!”
What a motivator! You just wanted to run through a brick wall for this guy. He was so clueless that one day he had the nerve to ask me, “Why is our turnover so high?”
What did he expect? People will ALWAYS rise or fall to your level of communicated expectation.
Let me tell you about my daughter, Emily.
Emily turned 19 last month. She is a sophomore at High Point University in High Point, NC and is doing great! Her grades are better than they’ve ever been (all A’s and B’s). She is an active member of a sorority; has a job on campus; is active in campus activities and is really taking advantage of the entire college experience. In addition, she’s a pleasure to be around and is just a really great kid, who I have high hopes for. However, that wasn’t always the case.
From 8th grade through high school Emily was a swift pain in the butt. She was your typical surly, moody teenager. As a student she was, at best, disinterested, at worst, the part of the class that makes the top half possible. Have you ever gone to a parent/teacher conference and asked your kid just before you walk in, “How’s it going in this class?” They say, “Fine,” and then the first thing the teacher hits you with is, “Emily is missing 11 assignments!” Don’t you love those conversations?
Normal conversations (both mine and Linda’s) with her would go like this: “How’s school Em?” “Fine.” “Anything happen today.” “No.” “Have any homework.” “A little.” There were the screaming matches too. “I hate you.” “You hate me.” “None of my friends ever have to do that.” Or, of course, “My friends get to do (or have) ________, why can’t I?” That one bugged me so much I finally said, “Hey Em, how come you never say, “My friends get all A’s, how come I don’t?”
There was the usual sneaking out of the house stuff. The friends we never got to meet and the ones we did know but weren’t crazy about and of course, the boys (it doesn’t help that Em is a very pretty girl). To sum it up, Em was a “Valley Girl” who was going to major in “Shopping Mall.”
We threatened her; punished her; grounded her; took away privilege upon privilege; bailed her out (not jail, but school) and let her sink. Finally, we’d just throw up our hands and say, “Well, at least she didn’t fail. A “C” is not bad.” We had low expectations and Emily was just as happy to fulfill them. She loved playing the dumb, clueless blond. But then, late in her senior year of high school, it all changed.
The Turning Point
For eleven years Emily had been a member and captain of the Bouncing Bulldogs Rope Skipping Team. Every year the team has an End of Year Banquet, where the graduating seniors give a speech. In Em’s senior year she was one of five girls graduating; three of them top students going on to big time schools. Linda and I were worried that Em was going to “Fall on her face.”
I told her I would not write the speech for her but I’d help her with the editing and coach her. Two days before the banquet I asked how the speech was coming. She screamed, “I don’t know what to write.” Finally, I told her just write what you feel. Talk about your experiences and all the friends you’ve made.
The next day Emily hands me a copy of the speech to edit. I was blown away. I said to Linda, “You’re not going to believe this, it’s great! There’s nothing to edit.” I told Em I loved it, gave her 2 to 3 minutes of coaching and that was it.
The night of the banquet she blew the place away. It was amazing. She was funny, poignant and poised. Eye contact: perfect. Ability to deliver a punch line: phenomenal. There were people asking me if I wrote it (NOPE). Did I coach her for weeks (NOPE; 3 minutes). It was all Emily.
The next day I sat her down and said, “Em, you blew your cover. The jig is up. After that performance you will never again convince us that you can’t do ANYTHING you put your mind to. The dumb blonde routine is not going to work on your mother and me, because last night, you blew it.
So here’s the deal. The bar has been raised and you’re the one who raised it. From now on a C is not acceptable. Your mother and I will only accept A and B work because we’ve seen the kind of A+ work you’re capable of. You blew away every one of those girls who were SUPPOSED to be smarter and more articulate than you.
I stated earlier, Emily knocked it out of the park her freshman year, so I sat her down and we decided to raise the bar ever higher in this, her sophomore year and she’s living up to all the expectations and more, which is no surprise to me.
Far too many people in this world suffer from the disease of low expectations. Whether you’re a parent, manager, business owner, teacher or anyone else in a leadership position; expect the best from people. Communicate that fact to them and let them know that YOU KNOW they are more than capable of doing and being the best and you’ll amazed at how often you get the best. That too is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I can’t take credit for the title of this article. A client of mine said to me the other day, “A downturn is a terrible opportunity to waste,” and I thought to myself, “Boy, that really sums it up.”
While there is always business to be done (let’s not forget, there were people who made fortunes during the depression), there are plenty of other things you can and should be doing during a downturn to make your business smarter, sharper and more efficient.
Develop your own. The biggest complaint I hear from small business owners is: “How do I find good people?” The solution is one of two things: steal them from your competition or develop the living hell out of what you have. Personally, I think you’re better off developing what you have.
Stealing someone from the competition might work during boom times, but during a downturn you just might be getting someone else’s mistakes. Remember what I wrote in my recent posting titled, “A Swift Kick in the Rear.” Our economy has been so good for the last 26 years (only 16 months of recession in that time) most salespeople have no idea what tough times are like and are not used to selling in them. Do you think the competition’s people are any different?
Turn up your training effort. Get back to the basics in your sales training. So often when business is booming and everyone is doing well, we tend to forget about the basics.
Don’t forget about sales managers! The sales manager is the key link in any sales organization. Give me a mediocre to poor sales force and let me put them with a great sales manager and guaranteed, you will soon have a great sales force.
When business is great who notices bad sales managers? Heck, we don’t even notice bad salespeople, since anybody can do business in great times. But, in uncertain times like these, the cream rises to the top. If you haven’t started already, it’s time to teach your sales managers how to motivate, educate, inspire, coach and lead the people that report to them.
Don’t forget your service people ; or anyone else who has any contact with the clients and customers. It’s time to really emphasize everyone’s role in the sales process. Remember, everyone sells.
Just because you are a customer service rep, an installation technician, an administrative assistant or a delivery person don’t think you are not part of the sales process. Sure, you’re not responsible for bringing in business, but just like everyone else in the company, you’re sure as hell responsible for keeping what you have and making it grow.