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Archive for January, 2018

I’m Gonna…

Annual planning; boat-floating; achievement drive; creating memories; we’re one month into 2018… now what?

If we don’t intervene, the start of each New Year can look a lot like the end of the previous calendar year, don’t you agree?  Many of us have great intentions each New Year; some of us even make New Year resolutions.  That’s a boon for health clubs.  Weight loss goals, along with many other popular resolutions, recycle this time of year for many of us.

Resolutions recycle because of the high failure rate.  Here’s what the Google Machine says:

Only 8 percent of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions, according to one commonly cited statistic. There are many reasons people can’t stick to their resolutions, from setting too many of them to getting derailed by small failures.

Count me in on the list of those with great intentions.  The problem is intentions don’t count:

You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do. 

Henry Ford

Nonetheless, I will try and re-try and re-re-try in 2018.  I bet you will too.  We vow not to get derailed by small failures; nor will we postpone our effort:

Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.

Donald Robert

This year – we’re gonna!  This year, we will join those 8 percenters.  Of course, the odds are not on our side.

It’s curious why there are so many of us that share this dilemma.  I mean, we are capable; intelligent; even successful in our fields of endeavor.  But when it comes to self-improvement or self-discipline, we often perform worse for ourselves than we do for our companies, our clients, and our careers.  Disappointing.

I have spoken about the “Principle of Disappointment” before, meaning: Every day I know I’m going to disappoint someone.  Every day I know I won’t be able to complete every task on my task list.  Every day I start the day with determination to do it all, get everything done, disappoint no one.  And at the end of every day I fail – someone was disappointed today.  Every day.

It’s inevitable for me and I believe it’s inevitable for us all.  The better and more capable we are, the more we pile on to our daily To Do List; inevitably setting ourselves up for small failures.

If you believe (as I do) that we cannot avoid disappointing someone today, then the only question remaining is, “Who will we not disappoint today?”  Ironically, we rarely put ourselves at the top of that list.  (Google suggests 92 out of 100 of us don’t.)  And inevitably, we become the very ones we disappoint… especially as it relates to our self-improvement and personal development goals.  It’s a common trap

Life is what happens when we’ve made other plans. 

Susan Jeffers

No, we can’t “plan” our way around it.  And, we can’t avoid the Principle of Disappointment.  If we will achieve our self-improvement goals it will take focus; it will take a new way of prioritizing; it will take acceptance that we will inevitably disappoint some one today; and every day; but today, it will not be us!

This year I will try and re-try to put myself on the list of those who succeed with their resolutions.  This year, if I accomplish my self-improvement goals then I will become an even better resource for my company, my clients and my career.  A healthier, better balanced “me” is good for all those I care about.  You too?

This year – I’m gonna!

GAP

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Memorable…

Posted Jan 24 2018 by in True North with 1 Comment

What do you remember about 2017?  Or for that matter, 2016 or even 2015?  You know … it wasn’t very long ago.  What stands out?

Living in the moment is one thing; but pausing our daily grind to remember why we’re grinding every day to begin with is important as well, true?  Do you have to consult Facebook or your cell phone photo gallery to remind you?  Are today’s machines going beyond dominating our daily routine and now replacing our memories also?

If we’re not careful, our fast-paced life can become a blur.  Guilt can surface when we’ve missed time with our family because of our job.  If we don’t pay attention, our failures, short comings, and tragedies can consume our memory.

Here’s an item (and a picture) I’m adding to my 2018 plan reminding me to lighten up – courtesy of Guy R. Ratti:

I carry a picture of myself as a child (about six years old) to remind me of two things: 

To remember to always look at the world as a child does, with wonder and excitement of what I can become.

To remember to forgive and love myself just as I would that innocent child in the picture. 

Too many grown-ups live their lives feeling guilty over mistakes made or lose time blaming themselves for things that could have been.  I remember what it is like to be a child and know that in many ways I am not much different from that boy in the picture.

Our approach to remembering things can vary by age group, too.  The young have their whole future unfolding in front of them.  Looking back is less common because looking ahead is a wonderful opportunity to imagine what can be; what will be.  The old are in a different state and we often look back.  Here’s Jan Carroll’s observation:

The young are luckier:  They don’t need to remember what the rest of us are trying to forget.

Will we commit to memory all of the wonderful things that happen in our lives; every accomplishment; every enjoyment; our family; our friendships; all of the good things that surround us in 2018?

OK, but what about the “other stuff”?  Yes, we all have to face the constant drum beat of negative impressions often courtesy of our modern media where negativity; mud-slinging; and shock seem to be their stock and trade.   It’s true that we have to face it; and when it’s real, we have to deal with it.

We have to deal with it when it’s labeled “fake news” as well, but we don’t have to commit those images to memory:

A retentive memory may be a good thing, but the ability to forget is the true token of greatness. 

Elbert Hubbard

There is a limit to everything that one can remember over the course of our lifetime.  Starting in 2018 let’s commit to remembering the good things in our lives and leave the “other stuff” to the machines.   Google can call up that “other stuff” as necessary.

We can also count on those that have better memories for counting stuff than we do:

Creditors have better memories than debtors. 

Benjamin Franklin

We don’t have to constantly stress out over our credit card balances; student loans; and mortgages.  Others are doing that counting and they are more than happy to remind us.

So, let’s make 2018 memorable for all of the right reasons.  Go ahead and share your childhood pictures everyone.  I bet they are memorable!

GAP

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Achievement Drive…

I met with a front-line sales manager recently.  I believe front-line management of any kind is among the most difficult jobs in today’s work place.

He recapped the sales management process he has put in place.  He has confidence in this process; his 1-to-1 coaching interactions; the clarity of expectations he’s set with each of his sales reps.

However, at the team level?  Of his 7-person sales team; 2 are over-quota; 1 is at quota; and 4 are under-quota.  Scary.  I said his distribution was in line with industry research.  Not following the research, he was surprised.

I’m not experienced with other functional areas, but in the sales area teams rarely have everyone over-quota.  I know managers want “A-Players”; but in the real world, most teams have “B” and “C” players, too.

Integrity Solutions (see https://www.integritysolutions.com/) recently provided this research published in Sales & Marketing Magazine©:

Perhaps the most important issue affecting sales performance today is the concern over lagging sales quotas.  According to CSO Insights, only 51% of salespeople across all industries made quota in 2017, down from 53% in 2016, 55.8% in the previous year, and a steady decline from 63% in 2011.

Barely 50% of sales reps are over-quota.  Almost 50% don’t make it!  That catches a sales manager’s attention, yes?  Scary.  Add in the reality that some over-performing reps will turn over every year (either positive, aka “promotion”; or negative, aka “adios”) and the sales manager’s team quota looms even larger.

It’s scary to believe that 50% of your sales people won’t make quota.  It begs the question, “What do I do about it?”  Integrity Solutions offers us coaching; the Germans do too.

Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is. 

German Proverb

I said to my colleague that he should not invest his time equally with his 7 sales reps.  He agreed, thinking he should spend more time with his under-performers.  I suggested exactly the opposite.

You see, his under-performers have to earn extra resources (including their manager’s time).  Industry research states many of them simply won’t make it.  As a sales manager, I believe the best thing we can do for our people is to help them clarify their understanding of themselves.  Sales is the unchosen profession:

Sales is what we do when we can’t do anything else.

But it’s not for everyone; nor is it easy.  It can be scary.

Integrity Solutions extends this foundation-building advice:

Every salesperson unconsciously asks and silently answers these questions as part of that internal dialogue:

  • Who am I?
  • What’s possible for me to sell?
  • What’s not possible for me to sell?
  • What’s possible for me to earn?
  • What’s not possible for me to earn?
  • What level of people am I able to call on and sell?
  • What level of people am I not able to call on and sell?
  • What level of life rewards do I think I deserve to enjoy?
  • What level of life rewards do I not think I deserve to enjoy?

The sales rep’s musts: Answer these questions before the sales manager can offer support.  Pour a foundation of achievement drive to build knowledge and skills upon.  Start with the right mind set:

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? 

Robert Schuller

The sales manager can help; but research indicates most sales reps won’t commit to, or be able to succeed.  That means the manager’s 100% quota assignment will ultimately come from the achievement drive of 50% of the reps.  Scary.

GAP

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Boat floating…

Last week I wrote about Annual Achievement Planning.  Planning is one thing; now comes the achieving part.  Motivation is a good place to start, yes?

Careful though, individual motivation is quite personal.  For me, recognition floats my boat.  For you, it might be a promotion or an office.  If you manage a team, how do you motivate while avoiding a “one-size-fits-all” approach?

Here are excerpts of Tim Houlihan’s thoughts (see “Don’t show me the money”) published in Sales & Marketing Management ©:

A few months ago, I was in Denver and met a retired man who asked about my work. I told him I research the motivational effectiveness of different types of rewards. He held up a worn leather bag and said with a smile, “I was a sales rep and this was my first reward for winning a sales contest in 1967.” He beamed at the accomplishment made over 50 years ago.

When it comes to motivation, our brains know deep down what we’ll do with a bonus check: pay off a credit card or replace the water heater. There’s no joy and no motivation in that. Motivation comes from a new TV or a vacation, especially if it’s a reward.

Don’t show them the money, show them the vacation, show them the new bling. Focus your incentive spend so reps have unforgettable experiences — not just a paid-off credit card. High performers are motivated by things and trips, not cash.

I had a unique motivational experience in 2016, receiving “on stage” recognition:

Unfortunately, my last name was misspelled turning a boat floating opportunity into, “Misspelled?  Really?!”

That certificate hangs in my cube as motivation; reflecting my potential job security.  Such “one-size-fits-all; let’s not bother to check the spelling of his name” example reminds me of the, “Here today; forgotten tomorrow” realities of today’s workplace.

In the sales profession, much has been said and much has been written about the role money plays in motivation.  Money actually fits that impersonal, “one-size-fits-all” category mentioned above.  In the real world, money doesn’t float sales reps’ boats the way many people think it does.  Personal motivation is not that simple.

Here’s another excerpt from BI Worldwide also published in Sales & Marketing Management © (see “Nudging Sales Reps”):

While it can be intuitive to believe the risk-loving nature and generally high confidence of sales reps would lead to both high goal selection and high goal achievement, research is proving otherwise.

Risk-loving?  High confidence?  Research suggests maybe not.

What if sales reps aren’t these made-up, Hollywood, gun-slinging personas?  What if we’re just average people working in a career where individual performance dictates our income, our outcomes, and our very job security?  What if it’s a symbol of accomplishment in the face of job uncertainty that floats our boat? A leather bag; a paper certificate?

What if a bonus or a commission – minus taxes of course – just blends into our direct deposit for a week, and then it’s spent; gone; forgotten?

Looking beyond stereotypes and following credible research we find motivation originates from sources more powerful than mere money.  However, these sources are personal.  For managers, they’re hard to leverage; they aren’t “one-size-fits-all”; but they’re there.  And when we’re motivated – we will “run through walls” to achieve!

Today’s research is sales-oriented.  Yet, if sales reps are truly mere mortals; just average people risking income and job security on quota performance; then these principles apply to any person and every position, true?

What will float your boat in 2018?

GAP

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2018 – A year of Fulfillment?

Welcome to the New Year!  Will it be our best year yet?  …

When preparing for an excellent year, I always recommend starting at the beginning; in this case writing our 2018 Annual Achievement Plan.  Planning our year is more than simply thinking about a few goals.  Unwritten goals without corresponding milestones are just “hope”, and as the business book title suggests, Hope is not a Strategy©.

Nonetheless, our 2018 Achievement Plan should start with a point of reference:

The first and most important thing about goals is having one. 

Geoffrey Albery

Then, to advance our Plan we should write down our goals.  And when writing our goals, I believe it’s wise to incorporate the “Principle of Balance”:

At work, many of us write business plans thinking only in terms of the Financial Success quadrant, true?  Yes, financial success is important.

I remember while leading top sales teams, I would occasionally hear one of my Producers say that being family-oriented was more important than sales success.  I agree.  However, I believe one of the best ways to care for my family is to be successful in sales or whatever endeavor one selects.  Money may not buy happiness, but it’s harder to be happy when you’re poor.

The Financial Success and Family quadrants are connected and I believe in establishing personal goals for my family role, too.  Writing down goals for our family is quite personal – but just as important as any other quadrant in our Annual Achievement Plan.  It could be takin g a family vacation; committing to time each day with the kids; simply “unplugging” while at dinner with our spouse; calling Mom and Dad each week.  It’s all of those “little things” that make a big difference to our family.

Go on – take a moment to write down your 2018 goals for the role you will play with your family; we’ll wait.

The importance of the Personal Development quadrant in our plan is another key to success – as the business book title suggests, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There©.  Personal Development is, well, personal.  Yet writing goals in our Personal Development quadrant reinforces the Principle of Balance.

Leading us to the Fulfillment quadrant.  Our favorite, Unknown Sage puts it this way:

Life is measured by the number of moments that take our breath away.

Although I advocate writing an Annual Achievement Plan; with measurable goals; corresponding milestones; striving to make each year my best year yet…  I also believe in the power of imagination; the presence of magic; and the purpose of fulfillment.

The idea came from a former colleague of mine, Peter Goodwin.  He believed in the annual planning process too, but added a unique twist to his that I have since incorporated into mine.  Each year I write down lifetime fantasies that if I could be so blessed, I will achieve.

And when I do realize the fulfillment of one of those fantasies, I don’t check it off the list.  No, it remains on my Annual Achievement Plan with the date of the fulfillment; serving as a milestone, a constant reminder of the power of fantasy; the presence of magic.  And it reinforces the Principle of Balance.

Go ahead – update your list of fantasies in the Fulfillment quadrant of your 2018 Plan.  And please “DREAM BIG!” James Collins in his book, Built to Last©, called them:

Big, Hairy Audacious Goals!

So here’s to 2018– may it be our best year yet!

GAP

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