I would like to think that I'm a positive guy. It has served me well over the years in the sales game. In fact, I would argue that there is nothing more important than thinking positively... especially for those of us blessed to cold call all day long.
Running an inside sales team over the last few years has meant that I needed to leverage that positive disposition to motivate the team.
While I want to believe in my heart of hearts that positivity overcomes every challenge, it requires a little more finesse than that. The "Ra Ra" mentality has to be part of any manager's makeup, but our employees needs a little more than "You can do it, pal!" if they're at a loss.
I don't pretend to have all of the answers for my team. My goal is to get an employee to the point where they enjoy strategizing and sharing ideas, all balanced with the necessary sprinkling of positive mojo from my end. As I mentioned in a blog a few weeks ago, from day 1, I let my new hires know that I will set clear expectations for them. By empowering them to achieve those goals, it demonstrates that I have their back. All they owe me in return is a genuine effort every day they walk into the office. When they're grasping at straws on ways to improve their output, I feel it’s a shared responsibility between the manager and employee to work together to identify the gaps. Coming up with a concrete plan of action to back up the "Ra Ra" approach should be the goal.
It has been difficult for me to manage the balance between being positive while also turning the screws when necessary. This has generally been the case for most of the bosses I’ve worked for over the years. From my perspective, you’ve done your due diligence if you set those expectations from the outset so when it’s time to turn the screws, no one should be surprised.
As Q4 is quickly approaching for most of us, are you preparing for a strong finish to 2013? I assume you're prepared to give the team the motivational speech, but are you ready to hop in the trenches with them as well? Cheering from a distance helps, but no one likes the boss who is sitting up on their ivory throne. I've found getting a bit dirty with your folks will help to drive the real results you're hoping for.