If you asked your team if they thought you were a good boss, what do you think they would say? Well if they had any common sense you’d get a resounding vote of confidence – after all, it’s hardly in their interest to highlight your shortcomings. In business most of us have learnt that a good relationship with the boss is a paramount for career progression... So the way we describe our bosses to our mates down the pub can be quite different from the glowing reports we write on their 360 appraisals.
In my experience, sales is the worst sector for bad bosses. It normally goes like this: Mike joins XYZ company and immediately tops the sales board, knocking his colleagues out of the park. XYZ company is so keen to keep Mike closing that they reward him with pay rises and power, promoting him to team leader and then manager if he keeps his winning streak.
Now there is a fundamental flaw with this process. Mike may very well be a talented salesperson, but just because he‘s good at his job, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he can teach, motivate and lead others. That’s way Sandler advocates ‘systems’ over ‘saviours’ every time. It’s much better for the business to have structured, sales processes and systems that everyone can follow, to track, adjust and measure individual and team-wide performance.
Being a boss isn’t easy but you can measure it by staff retention and performance. If your team is frequently changing and you are missing targets, there will be many areas for improvement. However, even if you have a stable, good performing team that doesn’t mean you should rest on your laurels. Leadership is a skill and it can always be developed, which will benefit you personally, as well as the business.
Here are four tips to get you started:
1. Lead by example: The old adage to treat others as you wish to be treated is never more than it is with leadership. This means that you shouldn’t try and be a ‘mate’ and nor should you adapt some ‘dictator’ style. Treat your team respectfully, outlining clearly what is expected of them and their milestones for development. Show them how you want them to act by embodying it yourself: professional, respectful, helpful and team-focused. If they have a problem, don’t fob them off – show them how to address it, whether it’s a tricky cold call or complex contract negotiation.
2. Learn to listen: In order to build good relationships with your staff the dialogue must be two-way; make time for weekly one-on-one’s where you can guide them on problems they are encountering. By giving them time you will also be demonstrating that you value your team – which will expedite their development and improve staff retention rates.
3. Admitting when you are wrong: Nobody wants a perfect boss that is impossible to emulate, they want to have a real person at the helm that gives them confidence they can follow in your footsteps. This means that you don’t need to keep up a persona of perfection, admit when you are wrong – by telling them what lessons you have learnt from your mistakes you will find that your staff will have the confidence to be honest and approach you with their own issues.
4. Positive reinforcement: The carrot beats the stick every time – if your team only feel that you take time to highlight their errors, but that you never recognise their successes, then the business will ultimately suffer. People’s confidence and abilities grow from positive reinforcement; build a culture of celebrating success. If problems do arise, make sure they are dealt with quickly and discreetly, with clear steps put in place so that they know exactly what practical steps they need to make to improve.