A few of us attended a panel discussion with some thought leaders from our sales and management training company Lushin & Associates. It was a very candid discussion on recommendations and advice on four key areas: people, process, strategy, and skills, the foundational components of a healthy organization. The panel consisted of a diverse group, in terms of company size, background, and industry.
The panel included: Tim McNamara VP of Sales WXIA Atlanta, Nick Smarrelli CEO of GadellNet, Adam Weber, Co-founder and VP of Sales at Emplify, and Kim Mathews, CPIA of AIS. The group had great insights and made it really easy to pull nuggets of information that could be applicable to many people in a lot of ways. Throughout the conversation, we picked some specific items that resonated with us that we thought could be easily adapted for our company and could be potentially valuable to share with others. As a smaller company, culture is significant to us, and we are always looking for innovative ideas to strengthen it. Here are some notes that we’ve captured that you could potentially use for your organization in 2019.
Know Your Teams Personal and Professional Goals to Drive Motivation
It is probably apparent that if you know your employees on a more personal level, it will create a healthier organization. So, sit down with your team and do a goal planning session. Get to know them and their goals. Whether it’s a personal goal of traveling or professional goals of being promoted, the more we know our employees, the better we can understand what is motivating their behaviors. The discussion was also tied back to how to incentivize and reward your employees using these goals. If you are just rewarding your employees with cash, it might not be as impactful as you think. For example, if you give your employee a check for $500, it might be worth half of that once taxes come out and will likely go into a paycheck without much notice. But what if you changed that? What if you took that $500 and created an experience for them instead? Maybe one simple goal was to go to Chicago and take in a show soon. A reward for them could be buying them tickets and booking a hotel. The power in this is you are making a goal achievement more meaningful. It will relate that achievement to a memory, and that makes it so much more powerful and long-lasting. Goal rewarding doesn’t even have to be that extravagant, it could be as simple as meeting a goal, and you reward them with a dinner somewhere with their significant other.
Make Goal Setting Visual and Set Behaviors to Achieve Them
If you were to survey the most successful business owners, I think you will find an overwhelming number of them rely very heavily upon the power of goal setting. But not just any goal setting, but concrete, measurable goals that then can have behaviors tied to that encourage the achievement of those goals. This is a very deliberate task done throughout the year and is often a topic of discussion during WIMS (weekly individual meetings). Within that same topic is visualization, an activity of creating a vision board that you can refer back to that gives weight to those behaviors and goals. A vision board is merely a way of taking an abstract goal and tying that to a pictorial representation of your goal. By definition, “a vision board is a collage of images and words representing a person’s wishes or goals, intended to serve as inspiration or motivation.” It allows your team a reference to the goals and what attaining them means to them. You set goals, you create behaviors to lead to the achievement of those goals, and then you visualize attaining the goals and the outcome of it.
Host Offsite Company Planning and Strategy Sessions
We know it’s hard to step away from the daily grind and focus on planning. Yet one of the biggest reasons companies do not meet their organization’s goals is because they don’t take the time to really plan out the company vision and set clear goals that are relatable to everyone on the team. And even more frightening, if they do plan goals, they don’t strategize on how to achieve them. Or there is no accountability for NOT achieving goals. Having an offsite strategy session or a planned retreat allows time to make plans, set goals, and also gives time for you to connect with your employees in ways that you might not otherwise. It’s very important that you do this away from the office because people can easily become distracted and unfocused during the session due to emails, phones, and general office disruptions. There should be work involved but make it fun too!
Decide How You Hire: Build a Bench or Fill the Holes
We are definitely using a sports metaphor here, but it’s a great way to describe hiring strategies. We often think about hiring only when there is an obvious need or hole in your starting lineup. This is very ‘reactive’ not proactive. Maybe your business development person left, and now you are scrambling to find someone. You hire that person quickly instead of deliberately. That’s called filling the hole, which often also leads to less desirable candidates. There is a motto that we live by here. Hire slow, fire fast. What if you changed your hiring strategy and built your bench instead and created a proactive approach to hiring? You strategically chart out your organization and hire people that could be developed as a starter in your lineup or create multiple positions within a job track. For example, as a brand agency, we are always in need of talented designers. However, we may not always have the resources or position for a higher-level designer. We can hire a designer and let their experience drive where we placed them instead of creating a position to fill. Instead of waiting until we have a senior level position or creating one because we came across a senior level designer, we can create a track for a designer to start at a more junior level and work their way into a senior or art director position. It both allows us to “build our bench” at a lower salary level at the beginning, but also gives an incentive and motivation to a junior level applicant to take an entry level job and work hard to achieve a promotion.
Use Personality Tests
This is such an important part of a healthy organization. Whether it’s used in the hiring process, the sales process, and/or as an employee engagement tool, personality tests are key to truly understanding how a person learns, communicates, and functions. Two of the more well-known personality tests are the Myers-Briggs and DiSC® profile. At Boldthink, we use DiSC®, and we use it as a part of our hiring process to help us know if we are making a good hiring decision. Based on their personality traits we can understand how they will fit in better with the group or once hired things we can do to better accommodate those traits. For example, if we are hiring an Account Manager, we know that we need someone who places an emphasis on sincerity and dependability, is extremely detail oriented, and can keep people on track. With those traits in mind, we are probably looking for someone with S and C traits on the profile. We don’t want someone with a D personality, per say, because those traits aren’t best suited for that particular role. Now if we are hiring a business development person, we will look for profiles that have D and I in their results. This means that these personalities are great at fostering relationships, persuading others, accomplishing results, and getting to the bottom line fast.