Last week, I began a three part series on the disrupters of self-belief based on a blog post by Jonathan Farrington. If you missed that, here it is again.
We Should Never, Ever, Doubt Our Ability to Succeed
As you recall, the first disrupter was lousy bosses. Today, we’ll examine the second:
2. Peer Pressure (Corporate Culture) has a huge impact on the way employees behave and feel. Companies that reward success, for example, inspire others to succeed. Companies that penalize failure encourage everyone to try to not fail. Just like taking a Pass/Fail course in colllege. How can this disrupt your self belief?
A. HOMOGENOUS COMPARISONS Lumping everyone into one comparison pool without taking certain qualifiers into consideration can blow away promising talent. Stack ranking is a good example. You expect 20 year veterans in established territories to be at the top. But when rookies see themselves always at the bottom, it can disrupt their self-belief. Many managers think it shows them what is possible or what they should aspire to. They don’t need a stack rank for that. They know who drives to work in a Porsche and parks next to their Hyundai. Similar to the last post, focus on YOUR territory, YOUR opportunities, YOUR sales activity. Measure consistently and try to “beat yesterday” each day you come to work. You will see your results slowly start to move up. Keep track of where you started (usually $0) and your percentage increases will show you that you are making progress – even if you’re near the bottom of the revenue stack rank. Heavy hitters didn’t get there in a day, so set your sights on the top, craft a plan and ACT on it!
B. THE PILLORY – A long time ago, I was a manager at a company that held monthly meetings at corporate in which the operations of its 80 or so branches were reviewed. These were chaired by the CEO and attended by all Senior management and branch managers, some in person and some on conference call. During these calls the CEO would brutally excoriate branch managers whose numbers were not to his liking. These tongue lashings would last for as long as he felt it necessary to instill fear of failure in everyone. So, instead of aiming to be #1, managers just aimed to be out of the line of fire. Not only a poor way to grow results, but when your managers’ self-belief is disrupted, it infects their direct reports and so on down the line. So, disrupting self-belief with a “top down” approach is especially effective in producing mediocrity. An environment like makes you re-calibrate success. Being #1, making $500K or going on the President’s trip may not be things you set your sight on. At least not at first. Figure out how to avoid the wrath of the CEO, keeping your numbers above the Mendoza line, then work on moving them up a bit each month. You CAN get there, but first you need to stay out of the line of fire.
C. SECRET SOCIETY – Does your department or company share best practices regularly? If so, great. If the best practices come from people at all places in the stack rank, even better. That helps everyone grow from peer learning. Or, does your company discourage collaboration? Worse, do they practice isolation? Isolation is a neanderthal sales management technique still used with surprising frequency. Here’s how it works.
Say you sell widgets that come in 6 colors, including Carolina Blue. Well, if your territory is, say, South Carolina (where Clemson Orange reigns supreme), Carolina Blue is probably not your best seller. But, the company needs to sell all the colors. So, your boss asks you why you’re not selling it. When you tell your boss why, s/he says, “But EVERYONE is selling Carolina Blue like crazy!” Making you feel like you are the ONLY one not selling it is a perverse way to get to sell something whether or not is it appropriate for your market. Forget that you are the #1 seller of orange widgets. By isolating you (the ONLY one not selling it), it creates a serious disrupter. Go underground. Build a network of your peers, where you can hit a happy hour and de-stress, debrief and bounce ideas off each other. If your corporate culture places walls between you, you’ve got to break some down and share. What you’ll find, I’m sure, is that whatever problems you are having, others are too. Some may have even found solutions. Sharing these will help you all grow.
Next post will examine self-inflicted wounds.
Till then – Keep looking forward and CloseitUP!