Herding Cats

That’s how it can feel when you’re leading a sales or customer service team. 

 

I often hear: “How do I get my team to do what I ask?”  or  “They know what they need to do, why don’t they JUST DO IT!!?”

If you relate to this and are yelling at your computer please know this:  YOU’RE NOT ALONE!

That doesn’t help though because it’s frustrating and feels like a head banging exercise.

Changing other people’s behaviour without their cooperation in my experience never works.  However, BF Skinner, the behavioural scientist, argued sixty years ago that there was no such thing as free will – it was carrots and sticks that shaped people’s behaviour.  Give a great enough reward and people will do what you want.  Give a harsh enough punishment and people will stop doing what you don’t want them to do.  Commissions, rewards, performance management have their place but not if they’re rewarding or “punishing” outcomes.  That’s where behaviour steps in.

Now, I’m not a psychologist, but I am a Sales Doctor (LOL), so let me share with you my observations about why sales and CX people don’t do what they know they must, should or would benefit from doing and what you can do about it:

 

Knowing vs Doing

Knowledge isn’t power.  The application of knowledge is power; in other words, action is required! And to take new or different action – even if the old way isn’t working or if the new way is obviously going to be better requires people to step beyond their limits.  Awareness is the first step to getting people to take new action.  Results are usually how many sales leaders or CX managers measure and manage their team’s performance, but by the time the results are there it’s too late.  Results are yard sticks to track the action taken prior.  That’s all.  If your team keeps getting the same results, it means they’re taking the same action – that’s what needs to change.

So we start with observation and feedback about the actions they’re taking vs the action they must take to change the outcome.  It must be external and it must be specific.  Awareness is the start for any change. 

 

Clear pathway forward

While awareness is the launching place for behavioural change, on it’s own, it won’t change the outcome.  I’ve found that people need to know why, how and what to do differently.  Specifically.  I’m not talking about scripts.  I’m talking about behaviours that if performed consistently and well will deliver what good looks like and the inevitable results.  Being able to pinpoint exactly what’s not working, and what to do instead is useful.  It gives the team member something tangible to action rather than hoping they simply “get the idea”. And it’s these behaviours that when done consistently and well that can be rewarded.

 

What we do when no one is watching

It’s easy to go back to our old behaviour when there’s no one to be accountable to.  That’s why having accountability measures on the BEHAVIOUR matters.  And that requires observation of someone in action to provide coaching in the moment.  For CX people, I use a technology that provides them with a breakdown of their call using behaviours and provides online video coaching in the moment via their dashboard: www.alkhemy.com.au For sales people, it requires going along to client meetings or observing people on the shop floor.  Helping people become observers of their own behaviour by knowing what to look for is the gift that keeps on giving. 

 

As the old saying goes: “If nothing changes, nothing changes”.  Don’t let that be you or your team.

 

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