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Reasons…

I’m sorry for any typos in today’s post; my spell-checker wasn’t working.  And the post was late this morning because the power company had a blackout causing my alarm clock to malfunction.

When I (finally) arrived at the office I had to explain to my boss why my project really isn’t behind schedule.  No; the reason we’re waiting is I sent an email to the marketing department and they haven’t responded yet.  Oh, and now the Channel Manager is calling.  I bet she’s wondering why I haven’t responded to her emails yet.  Doesn’t she understand the reason is I’ve been so busy?  Today is already stacking up to be one of “those days”!

I can’t wait for lunch hour.  My wife packed me a healthy lunch of fruits and vegetables.  She just doesn’t appreciate the reason why I’m overweight is all of the pressure I’m under.  Besides, according to medical research, chocolate has a mood-soothing effect.

Now I have to jump on a conference call with the training team.  I can’t wait to hear their reasons for the bugs in the company’s machine learning initiative.  When we tried to log in and take our Level 1 course, the whole system crashed.  They said the reason was IT didn’t apply a software patch.

A friend of mine in IT said the reason why they didn’t apply that patch was they were told to wait until the training team updated materials in the course.  When the “fit hit the shan” our Business Unit President blasted the IT Manager!  He said our continued IT fowl-ups were the reason our stock price has been flat.

Come to think of it, now I will have to work a few more years than I wanted to before retiring.  My 401k account isn’t growing fast enough and the reason is obviously a combination of our flat stock price coupled with the national political mess.  Everyone knows the reason for our national crisis is those people supporting that other party.

And I know my wife is going to be mad because I want to watch the NFL game this weekend even though it’s her Aunt Ester’s wedding anniversary.  The reason why I don’t want to go to the anniversary party is the last time we played cards I think Aunt Ester purposely sabotaged our game so we would lose and leave so she could go to bed.

First Law of Bridge

It’s always the partner’s fault.

I understand – life can be a b%#*! sometimes.  But when we make a mistake, we don’t always have to have a reason why it wasn’t our fault.  We’re all in this together; we’re all impacted by Gerrold:

Gerrold’s Laws of Infernal Dynamics

An object in motion will always be headed in the wrong direction.

An object at rest will always be in the wrong place.

The energy required to change either one of the states will always be more than you wish to expend, but never so much as to make the task totally impossible.

And we all know about Murphy…

The New Math Version of Murphy’s Law

If there is a 50/50 chance of something going wrong, nine times out of ten it will.

Too many times, in too many instances – although I am wrong – I create some far-fetched reason why I am actually right.  Someone else or something else is convenient to blame.

Today, a little personal accountability might go a long way to getting me back on the right track.

Bridge anyone?

GAP

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Learning…

2017 has started off with a bang!  My department is “doubling down” on the enablement programs, training classes, and learning content we provide to our re-sellers.

For instance, instead of leading an in-person sales enablement class every other month (as I did in prior years); in 2017 the class cadence is monthly.  Couple that with conducting on-site enablement meetings for our larger partners, along with re-casting (aka “re-writing”; “improving”; “finishing”; “fixing”) existing enablement content for my external audience and there you have it – bang!  OK, OK – perhaps a bit unfair on felling I must fix our existing content.  Still learning…

Thankfully, I have the perfect job:

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. 

Confucius

My Boss also seems happy that I am happy staying so busy:

Among the chief worries of today’s business executives is the large number of unemployed still on the payrolls. 

Unknown Sage

There are many reasons why I love doing what I do in the sales enablement field.  First and foremost, the term “enablement” is conveniently vague.  Combine such vagueness with a manager who is very empowering means I get to do what I think I should do; the way I think I should do it; leveraging the knowledge, skills and experiences I have learned over the past 40 years; and enabling others the way I was enabled by those who took me under their wing – and still do!

Another reason why I love what I do is I get a front row seat in the fascinating arena of adult learning;

To teach is to learn. 

Japanese Proverb

I get a kick out of working with seasoned, senior, experienced, successful sales, marketing and business professionals.  I get to observe those that invest effort and energy to learn; as well as those that invest effort and energy to remind me what they have already learned (aka “Gary, I know; I KNOW!”).  It makes me reflect on, “…the chief worries among business executives…”

I think I get it (e.g. I’m learning).  My successful audience doesn’t want me to try to teach them things they have already learned.  Fair enough – sounds like my kids when they were growing up and complaining about my repetition.  “Yes Dad, I know. Dad – I KNOW!” So I’m (still) learning what my clients “KNOW!”  I do my best to add new learning value in the time they invest with me.

And then I reflect – wait a minute – I’m seasoned; I’m senior…experienced…successful… We’re in agreement.  “Don’t repeat what I’ve already learned in the past – help me learn what I need to know for the future.”  And that’s the key to adult learning IMHO for the sales profession of today.  Sales professionals realize:

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.  It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.  Every morning a lion wakes up.  It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve.  It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.  When the sun comes up, you better start running. 

African Proverb

Past success does not guarantee future nourishment.  Those darn, up-and-comers (aka Millennials) I have written about frequently are hungry.  They know they don’t necessarily have to out run the fastest lion to capture the slowest gazelle; they just have to out run we seasoned, senior, experienced, successful sales people.

Rise and shine everyone – time to start running – and learning!

GAP

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Problem statements…

I’ve written recently about the large amount of change we are going through at my company.  And even though sales professionals are in the business of selling change, we tend to be quite change adverse ourselves.

During times of change, followers often make “problem statements” (aka protests, complaints, bitches) to our leaders, yes?  And during our period of change I’ve observed one of my colleagues consistently making such problem statements to the boss.  In turn, the boss has been quite consistent – he puts the problem back in my colleague’s court and asks him to come up with a solution.

It’s not that the boss is above input (or criticism) on his game plan for the team; just the opposite in my opinion.  You see, my boss is stellar at setting our strategic course based on the company’s priorities; hiring skilled, experienced people for his team; and empowering us to get the job done.  We are nicely compensated for our contributions, too – just like those that implemented dramatic changes in the United States steel industry:

“We have the hardest working steel workers in the world”, said one Nucor executive.  “We hire five, work them like ten, and pay them like eight.” 

Jim Collins

However, “getting the job done” at our company isn’t easy – I bet that holds true at your company too.  And on more than a few occasions, my colleague will make a “problem statement” seeking to throw the issue over the fence into my boss’ yard.  He doesn’t like the boomeranged result.

The reality is solving these problems (aka issues, concerns, difficulties) is the reason he hired us to begin with.  He’s very skilled at anticipating our problem statements:

The boss always scheduled the weekly staff meeting for 4:30 on Fridays.  When one of the employees finally got up the nerve to ask why, she explained; “I’ll tell you why – I’ve learned that’s the only time when none of you seem to want to argue with me.” 

Unknown Sage

So I get it – don’t expect to throw the problems of getting my job done over the fence and expect my boss to handle them.  Those problems (aka challenges, complexities, trials and tribulations) are the reason why he hired me in the first place.

And I’ve been around the block enough to understand the realities of team member complaints (aka grievances, grumbles, moans):

Zimmerman’s Law of Complaints

Nobody notices when things go right.

I may have an advantage as compared to my colleague (to be fair though, I’m not totally knowledgeable about his background before joining our team).  But I’ve been the boss before. During that time, I attempted to follow the teachings of great business leaders such as Alfred P. Sloan who led General Motors to the powerhouse of his industry during his time:

The job of a professional manager is not to like people.  And whether one approves of people or of the way they do their work, their performance is the only thing that counts and indeed the only thing that the professional manager is permitted to pay attention to.

I know my colleague doesn’t like it when he hits the boss with problem statements and doesn’t get whatever burden lifted off of his shoulders.  It’s not a “like” thing to begin with.  The boss is simply demonstrating faith in my colleague’s ability to perform.

The good news (aka happiness, silver lining, positive side)?  Like Nucor, we are all quite capable of the meeting the high performance he expects.

GAP

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Triangle – the series continues…

This is the second corner of a triangle I’m devoting to the term “engagement” that is prominently used in Corporate America today.  (Missed the first one? http://thequoteguys.com/2016/03/triangle-the-series/ )

Much has been said and much has been written about the term engagement in our modern marketplace.  Employee engagement as spoken by human resource professionals; customer engagement as spoken by marketing professionals; leadership engagement as spoken by management consulting professionals.  Engagement seems to have us surrounded.

Last week we examined leadership engagement.  In this week’s segment of the series let’s explore employee engagement.  Employees serve a key bridge between our companies’ leadership vision and the actual experiences felt by our clients:

If you want happy clients, first make sure that your client services employees are happy.  Everyone has run into that disgruntled client service representative who hates his job.

I recently read a report about millennials in our workforce and their lack of overall engagement.  Troubling – isn’t this the generation that will lead us into the future?  If they’re not engaged, how will we compete?

The report cites five reasons blocking millennial employee engagement https://hbr.org/2016/02/motivating-millennials-takes-more-than-flexible-work-policies . When we look at these reasons each one seems easily addressed, true?  What are we all waiting for?  (Is it the leadership engagement I wrote of in the first part of the series?)

If employee engagement is critical to business success in today’s global, competitive marketplace we have to get fired up!  For example, one of the oldest American industries is littered with failed businesses – big failures too; wiped out by competition.  Yet one company has arisen from the ashes as analyzed by a leading management consultant:

“We have the hardest working steel workers in the world”, said one Nucor executive.  “We hire five, work them like ten, and pay them like eight.” 

Jim Collins

We all get it – engage us; motivate us; lead us; pay us and we will forge steel with a level of effort on behalf of our company never before witnessed.  We can do it; so what’s stopping us?  Is it all of those silly, little, internal administrative processes that disillusion and ultimately diminish employees’ enthusiasm?

An angry worker goes into her company’s payroll office to complain that her paycheck is $50 short. 

The payroll supervisor checks the books and says, “I see here that last week you were overpaid by $50.  I can’t recall your complaining about that.”

“Well, I’m willing to overlook an occasional error, but this is two in a row.” 

Paul Dickson

OK, it could be that our company “bigness” has begot internal inefficiencies that irritate our employees from time to time.  It could be these minor mistakes are milking our pride; making us think our company is being run by a bunch of monkeys.  Could be, but…

There are many companies that still remain a beacon of pride, whose brand beams quality – dare I say “ENGAGEMENT”?

Welcome to Nordstrom… Here, almost in its entirety, is Nordstrom’s employee handbook:

We’re glad to have you with our Company.

Our number-one goal is to provide outstanding customer service.

Set both your personal and professional goals high.

We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them. 

Bob Nelson

Hang tough millennials (and all generations in today’s diverse workforce), we too have great confidence in your ability to achieve your goals.

If we are a team of five, let’s produce like ten.  Let’s engage to make our company a beacon of pride.  Our customers will help us; as I will discuss next week.

GAP

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