Monthly Archives: April 2017

MAKING IT WORK with GENY

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Making Work Meaningful

Millennials want to know that what they do matters. They want to understand the context and contribution of their work, particularly if they feel the work is menial and entry level. Management can help keep these workers interested by involving them immediately in an onboarding process. From the start, a new-hire Millennial should be enlightened about the organization’s mission and how his or her job, however mundane, fits into those goals.

Older workers often complain that they never had to be told how their job fit into the big picture. They were willing to start at the bottom and work their way up, regardless. However, those in Generation Y need to feel that they belong and make a difference. A company that welcomes Millennials into the workplace will freely share and reinforce its vision with workers. It will delineate how the work of an individual and team affect the company’s mission. Finally, it will acknowledge a larger purpose by being actively engaged in the community. This can be achieved by:

  1. Offering employee match donations.
  2. Focusing on one to three nonprofits that are aligned with the company’s mission.
  3. Replacing client gifts with donations to charities.
  4. Assisting employees in their volunteer efforts.
  5. Sponsoring volunteer team days, where employees spend a workday helping in the community.A Good Fit on a Good Team

    Chemistry in the workplace is an important aspect of company culture. Many Millennials have seen their working parents deal with people they do not respect or do not want to associate with, and prefer not to do the same in their own careers. A Millennial wants his or her job to be a good “fit” from the start. Management can help make that fit work for everyone involved by clarifying the team’s and the company’s values. Fit can be determined even before the application process. For example, the company’s values, and a description of the company’s culture, should be stated on the posted job description.

    Employees’ personalities also play a part in whether they are a good fit for their teams. Personalities can be assessed using a variety of tools, such as a personality indicator (e.g., the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or Strength Finders assessment). Once the personality of each team member is better understood, it will be easier to make adjustments to ensure that everyone’s contribution is maximized.

    It is a good idea for managers to review the team dynamics on a regular basis. They should check in after 30, 60, and 90 days to determine how new team members are fitting in.

    Meaningful Acknowledgement and Appreciation

    Parents, coaches, teachers, and camp counselors of Millennials gave them trophies, ribbons, and medals to reward them for just participating. Many Millennials have been conditioned to expect that same level of acknowledgment and appreciation in the workplace. Because of this expectation, they now have a reputation for being needy.

    Showing appreciation in the workplace is beneficial for employees of all ages; however, it must be authentic to be effective. Managers need to establish a culture of true appreciation that reinforces real contribution. Once such a culture has been established throughout the organization, it can significantly improve morale and performance for the entire team.

    The words “thank you” go a long way in reinforcing true appreciation in the workplace. Expressions of such appreciation can take many forms, such as an email, text message, or handwritten note; a group thank-you at a team meeting or a planned team celebration; company appreciation days for support staff or those in particular roles; and recognition of a birthday, anniversary, or other personal milestone. Regardless of the method used, the acknowledgment must be sincere to be effective.

    Give Clear Direction

    Just as Millennials need to know why their work is meaningful, they also need clear direction about how to accomplish that work. While conveying those directions, managers can use the opportunity to solicit Millennials’ input and ideas.

    Ambiguity can be avoided by providing clear and specific directions to all employees. When deadlines are given, there should be enough specific details that they cannot be misinterpreted. For example, instead of saying that a task needs to be completed by the end of the day, a manager should give a specific time. Terms like “shortly,” “end of day,” “end of the month,” or even “tomorrow” are ambiguous and can be interpreted differently by team members.

    Generation Y in particular has a different sense of time than older generations. For example, a Millennial may not anticipate that a particular task will require as much time as a manager expects. He or she may have a different view of what defines high-quality work. Both Millennials and their managers should never make assumptions; rather, managers should describe the quality of work required and the specific time involved, while Millennials should ask for further clarification when needed and communicate any delays or unexpected results.

    Feedback Is a Gift

    Millennials want and need feedback. Managers are constantly asked for check-ins so their Millennial employees can make sure they are “on the right track.” On the other hand, these same managers cannot understand why their Millennial employees appear to be so clueless. This, of course, has been a common theme among managers and young employees for many generations, including with Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.

    Feedback can be a gift, given to employees and coworkers, to help them capitalize on what they are doing well and improve other skills. Feedback does not cost anything, but it can prove invaluable in reducing time and frustration for all involved.

    Timing is extremely important when providing feedback. Corrective feedback should be given as soon as possible to action that required it. This makes the feedback more meaningful to the employee and allows for immediate revision; also, it prevents a manager’s frustration from growing and influencing the conversation.

    Managers and coworkers can use effective language to provide feedback in a constructive manner. The communication circle, developed by two executive coaches, separates facts, feelings, reasons, and blame. People offering feedback should be careful to avoid accusatory questions, such as “why” questions, and instead use questions that get to the matter at hand, such as “how” and “what” questions.

BLUEPRINT FOR SALES SUCCESS

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Goal Setting and Achievement

Actionable, defined goals provide the framework for success. Writing goals down and committing to a time frame dramatically increases the odds of achieving them. As individuals go about setting goals, they should address each of the following eight categories to help ensure life balance:

1. Career goals: It is important to avoid career complacency.

2. Education and personal development goals: New skills and continued education improve performance.

3. Family goals: A secure and balanced family life is usually the best and strongest support system.

4. Financial goals: Even just a small amount of planning and discipline can ease financial concerns.

5. Physical health and fitness goals: Good health leads to greater energy and happiness.

6. Social, hobby, and extra-curricular goals: These offer balance as well as the chance for increased socialization, which is always important in sales.

7. Spiritual goals: Spirituality is a personal commitment to greater meaning in life.

8. Community: Giving back to one’s community contributes to a successful and significant life; a person should always make the time and find the resources to give.

The next step in goal setting is to evaluate and rate each category in terms of current state and desired state. Based on this process, an individual can then develop tactical plans for improvement (including a defined time frame) within each category.

Even with goals firmly in place, habits are what drive day-to-day behavior. The following three steps will help eliminate bad habits that can undermine goal achievement and develop good habits that will support success. Individuals should write down the:

  1. Habit to be changed.
  2. New habit that will replace the old habit, the expected results from the change, and a detailed tactical approach for developing the new habit.
  3. Date to begin the change and end date for internalizing the new habit.

Managing Yourself and Your Market

Good time management is foundational to effective selling. Most successful salespeople have the ability to get more done in a specific amount of time than do others. Good time management is a skill anyone can learn and improve upon.

Preparation is vital to good time management. Sales professionals who want to improve their preparation abilities should:

*Establish a time and place for planning activities.

*Invest time and effort in prospecting.

*Carefully plan each day.

*Include call counts in daily plans, including specifics on who to call upon.

*Extend plans to cover weeks, months, and years.

*Carefully consider the appropriate mode of contact for each prospect and client.

Most importantly, individuals should avoid distractions and stay focused on the present.

Like time management, creativity and imagination are also part of self-management. Thinking big, avoiding complacency and a self-limiting attitude, and looking for opportunities to offer innovative solutions are behaviors that set high-performing salespeople apart from the crowd.

Strong communication skills are essential to successful selling. The critical aspects of communication that directly impact the sales function are quality, timeliness, frequency, and medium.

Managing the market is essentially about attracting and retaining customers. U.S. Learning’s Market Share Model identifies four market aspects that affect a sales professional’s market share:

  1. Market expansion.
  2. Market contraction.
  3. Front door (acquiring customers).
  4. Back door (losing customers).

Of the four, acquiring customers and losing customers are the two aspects over which salespeople have control. Understanding and communicating value, performing stellar service, staying informed, and keeping in close touch with customers are ways to attract and keep prospects, and thereby increase market share.

How to Build a Loyal Following

It is much more costly to acquire a new customer than it is to keep an existing one. Also, loyal customers often bring new customers into the business. Improving customer loyalty should be every salesperson’s goal. Creating value for customers is the key to increasing loyalty.

The Loyalty Ladder is a six-step framework for customer loyalty, with sales contacts represented as:

  1. Suspects (potential customers).
  2. Prospects (likely customers).
  3. Customers (people who have bought from the company).
  4. Clients (repeat customers).
  5. Advocates (clients who also champion the company).
  6. Confidants (clients with whom the company and salesperson have developed a special, mutual relationship).

The goal is to move people from the bottom to the top portion of the ladder. Customer-centric, relationship-focused selling achieves this.

Kids These Days

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In 2014, there were over 77 million Millennials between 22 and 34 years of age. The number of Boomers is roughly the same. Each of these generations outnumbers the Gen Xers by about 68 percent. The large size of Generation Y suggests it is likely to have as significant an impact on the culture, and in particular on the workforce, as the Boomers did.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, a number of myths about Generation Y have emerged. The six most prevalent are:

  1. Millennials feel a sense of entitlement.
  2. Millennials expect to be rewarded, and even promoted, just for showing up.
  3. Millennials do not work hard.
  4. Millennials do not complete their work and will not take initiative.
  5. Millennials are casual and disrespectful.
  6. Millennials are not willing to do their part and pay their dues, and they want freedom, flexibility, and work-life balance as soon as they begin their careers.

To be able to work with and manage Millennials, Boomers and Gen Xers must discover the truths behind the myths. Additionally, Millennials must do their part to understand why their older coworkers are frustrated.

Generation Y is the first “digitally native” generation. Its members have grown up with technology touching almost every part of their lives. This technology has fostered a sense of immediate gratification. Technology has also contributed to a different concept of time and place for Millennials. They can connect with anyone at any time, and access any information they want when they want it.

Millennials are also the most educated generation in the workplace today. Caraher blames grade inflation by colleges and universities for a part of the problem concerning Millennials’ work ethic. Secondary education has labeled most Millennial graduates as above average and allowed for negotiation with grades and feedback. Such practices have not helped others’ reservations regarding this generation’s ability to get work done. Parental over-involvement also hinders Millennials’ job satisfaction and tenacity.

Given that Millennials will constitute nearly half of the workforce by 2020, companies need to understand, appreciate, and effectively work with them without changing their standards of performance.