Category Archives: Personnel

Mistake # 98: End the year unprepared for the next budget year

I’m just not going to make it, and I’m scrambling. I need to have people in place to make next year rock and roll, and it isn’t going to happen. I’m trying, but, with the holidays, me working from afar during the two weeks of the holidays, it is going to be a rope walk. Not having the right people in place means that I do some of the work, pulled from what I should be doing. Just two weeks ago, I had to pull together a proposal that a sales person didn’t follow through on. He submitted less than mediocre work, and I had to jump in to salvage it prior to delivery. That is not good.

The people you have on your team need to be stellar – they need to be rock stars to make the company a rock star.

Rock on!


Mistake # 95: Let there be gossip!

How many companies have your worked for where gossip was king?!  I have had plenty in my day. And, when a company is expecting to conduct layoffs, the gossip becomes rampant; people become fearful; and production goes down the tubes.

An article in the NY Times illustrates how one company eliminated gossiping. When hired, an “agreement to values” is signed so that people are not talked about behind someone’s back. If so, the company has the right to let the individual go, since it is a breach of their agreement. Most importantly, the company management keeps information, including layoffs, timing, reasons for layoffs, all out in the open. Knowing what is expected of each individual, and holding each other accountable, eliminates the need for office gossip.

Further, the company identified how employees can communicate with diverse personalities within the company.  Can you imagine how they can be successful with the diverse personalities of your customers?!

Awesome company! Bravo!

Mistake # 90: Fail to turn in assignments to your manager

What happens when you don’t get specific projects turned in by your direct reports? I have a laundry list of at least ten specific requests to a sales rep, and he never turned these in. It’s beginning to mount. I’m addressing these with him next week.

How can someone do that? What happened in the previous jobs? Pathetic.

Mistake # 86: Performance review to death

The company I work for conducts two annual performance reviews on direct reports. Neither are tied to compensation. I spend an inordinate amount of time on these with clear examples, facts, and offering suggestions for my direct reports to grow. What I get is garbage. No one spends time on these. No one provides examples on what they achieved, or challenges they have overcome, nor described how they did it. It looks like they spent a total of maybe 15 minutes on them.

I have advocated that these move to once annually and be performed on the individual’s anniversary date. I realize that the company goals may not coincide with the timing of these, but for me, it makes it easier to spend time on each individual. Otherwise, I’m cramming a half dozen reviews into two weeks!

Eventually, when the economy grows, they can be tied to compensation. For more information on performance reviews, Compensation Today blog provides a terrific overview.

Mistake # 81: Un-motivate and discourage your teams

Modeling. As a manager, you need to model your behavior to your staff. Motivate them and encourage them in order to drive high performance. Sounds so easy, doesn’t it?

Cripes! I eat lunch at my desk everyday because I never have time to go out with an employee and smell the roses. I jump in when they need me and end up putting fires out all day long. How is that modeling? I am frustrated with myself.

I read the Five Positive Traits that are Exhibited by A Successful Sales Manager. The first one, Lead By Example, is the hardest. You make one little mistake and they all know it and they spread it around in the company like wildfire. It’s so hard to be a manager. As much as I try to get better at it, sometimes I feel like a failure.

Well, enough already!

Here are three ways, and three goals, that I have for the remainder of the year so that I can motivate and encourage my staff:

* Take one employee to lunch once a week to talk. How’s their family? How are things going? What can we do to get better?

* Hold more department meetings – at least twice monthly.

* Develop a sales incentive program to launch 2010 to drive sales, bring moral up, and do some crazy, zany, fun stuff to make people laugh!

I can get myself more focused to do these! Really!

…I’ll keep you posted.

Mistake # 79: Create a sweat-shop environment

I signed off for someone to take vacation this past week. She is sales support and cranks getting quotes out and orders processed. However, all hell broke out. Someone (from another department) even recommended me calling her back from her vacation to help the overloaded staff.

What?! Did I hear that right? We’re not curing cancer, doing brain surgery, or landing men on the moon. We are selling products and processing orders for those products. Yes, it was chaos. Yes, it was not good timing. But when is timing ever great?

I realize that, as a manager, I need to focus on work flow, when people should, and should not, take vacations. I also realize that I have final authority to deny vacations at any point in time.

But even I had to be out that week (taking my son to move into his dorm as a first year college freshman); and another sales manager had to take her mother for testing and needed to be out most of one day. Further, the President of the company was out for two days at the end of the week to fly to a family wedding on the east coast; and the CEO was out for two weeks during this time (after being back only one week in the office after his vacation) for a family wedding on the west coast, traveling with his family, and seeing the California sights.

So I it really wasn’t necessary to even consider bringing this person back from her vacation. I think the company will still be standing when she returns on Monday. In fact, I’m certain of it!

Mistake # 74: Don’t hire sales savvy people

The news of the day (yesterday, July 3) was that Sarah Palin is resigning as governor of Alaska. The news of the week for me was that I had hired and just brought on board two incredible sophisticated sales people for my team.

Unfortunately, I had to fly to a particular metropolitan area to fire an individual a week ago and could not announce one of these new hires until I had let the other go.

Letting people go is always painful.  I did the best I could knowing that this individual has a family with family needs, and, let’s face it: who wants to be let go? It’s never a good thing.

However, I was totally convinced that this person was working another business on the side. I just wasn’t getting the production and results we needed. Plus, he was always arguing with me.  Being Italian, I love to banter when things just go right. But there was a difference: he was fighting me every step of the way.  He said he knew the industry and he said he had contacts. I saw no results of either. Plus, he couldn’t put a proposal together to save his life. He had an MBA. Go figure.

So now I have two knowledgeable, driven, and motivated people who know the industry, brought in a bank of contacts with them, and jumped in with only an inch of learning curve needed to run out there and bring it in.

Maybe I have hired one of Fast Company’s top 100 creative people in business!

Already my stress level is down 150%.