In 2017 UK Millennials became the largest generation in the workforce as a record number of Baby Boomers headed to retirement.
This generation has some unique personality characteristics that seem to confuse their employers:
We want to work for a company with a clear sense of why and have our work be worth more than the money we are paid to do it.
Unlike previous generations, Millennials want to see their managers as coaches, and they value experience and knowledge over position and power.
With these ‘new age requests’, Millennials have already gained a reputation for being difficult to manage.
How to grow business without managing people?
We cannot motivate or manage others per se.
Our motivation is determined by the chemical incentives inside every one of us.
Any motivation we have is a function of our desire to repeat behaviours that make us feel good and avoid stress.
Hence, the only thing leaders can do is create environments, in which the right chemicals are released for the right reasons.
Importance of a healthy company culture
What is a “company culture” and how do we know when it’s healthy?
Company culture makes up a set of unwritten rules that all people of the company live by.
Culture gives us a sense of belonging and understanding about what is normal, appropriate and expected, but also what is inappropriate and unaccepted.
Understanding the culture is what sets “us” (the insiders) apart from “them” (outsiders). When others don’t meet our expectations, it is often a cue that our cultures don’t fit.
Sadly, the cultural norms of the majority of companies today actually work against our natural biological inclination of cooperation and belonging.
(This is one of the reasons why so many Millennials job hop – they are looking to find a place to belong.)
Without that safe culture, people are forced to spend too much time and energy protecting themselves from each other.
This means that happy, inspired and fulfilled employees are the exception rather than the rule (66% of UK employees are not happy with their jobs).
Politics are present and constant threat – the fear that others are trying to keep us down to advance themselves.
Intimidation, humiliation, isolation, feeling dumb, useless are all stresses we try to avoid inside the organisation.
If we sense danger, our defences go up. If we feel safe, we relax and are more open to trust and cooperate.
Truly human leadership protects an organisation from the internal rivalries that can shatter a culture.
In fact, the primary role of a leader is to look out for those inside the culture, so that those in the group can focus on the actual problems and drive the business forward.
People or numbers – what comes first?
It is more common for leaders of companies to see the people as the means to drive the numbers.
But it only works short-term.
To see money as subordinate to people and not the other way around, is fundamental in creating a culture in which the people naturally pull together to advance the business.
Prioritising numbers over people undermines the free market economy.
Which is – the better the products or services a company is able to offer to its customers, the more it can drive demand for these products and services.
And there is no better way to compete in a market economy than by creating more demand and having greater control over the supply – which all boils down to the will of those who work for us.
Better products and services are usually the result of the employees who invented, innovated and supplied them.
The leaders of great organisations don’t see people as commodity to be managed to help grow the money. They see the money as the commodity to be managed to help people grow.
In return, their people give everything they’ve got to see the organisation grow … and grow … and grow.
Sales coaching – a little-known way to grow business
Coaching is often mistaken for training.
Training gives people practical skills.
Coaching, on the other hand, isn’t about telling people what to do, but asking the right questions that stimulate thinking that leads to solutions.
Coaches want people to figure out the answers for themselves.
It builds character, critical thinking and maturity.
Coaching is a difficult skill to master, it doesn’t come naturally to majority of managers.
Because of its complexity and non-numerical return on investment, coaching is not very common in organisations (according to the TAS Group, 73% managers spend less than 5% of their time coaching their sales teams).
Practical advice to sales coaching
With coaching, you will not be able to manage the sales results, but the behaviours of your sales team that lead to the results.
We cannot instruct people to come up with big ideas or better solutions and we cannot demand people to cooperate.
These are always results – the results of feeling safe and valued among the people we work with.
For sales coaching to work, there must be leaders we want to follow.
The sales manager must earn trust.
Below is some practical advice for effective coaching:
Expectations, measurement & tangible vision
People need to know what is expected of them, how those expectations will be measured and why it is important.
If you know how you will be measured, your behaviour will reflect that.
If you know what the expectation is, you know where to focus your efforts.
And if you know why you are doing it, you’re more likely to commit.
If your team don’t have a unified answer to the three questions above, then it’s your responsibility to raise the level of awareness.
Eventually, you want everyone in the team to give you the same answers.
Because sales coaching isn’t individual.
A coaching programme isn’t developed with an individual in mind.
The purpose of the coaching is not to develop people’s passions (as you may read in many articles), but help business to grow.
Coaching programmes are designed for a team, an organisation. It’s a collective experience.
In order for an environment to be fair, the same expectations need to apply to everyone, within the same job role.
No paperwork overload
Everyone hates unnecessary paperwork, hey?
Don’t be that old-fashioned manager that kills the vibe with requesting lengthy CRM data inputs from your team.
Successful & outgoing sales people want to be free to do their job not waste their time with manual admin.
There are CRM systems that automatically record all the stages in a sales process, as well as analyse sales forecasts and performance.
Rapidi is a solution that easily connects Microsoft Dynamics 365 with Salesforce avoiding all manual re-entering data, saving your staff lots of time and headache.
Regular meetings & group troubleshooting
Hold regular coaching meetings with your sales people to develop their skills and behaviours.
Work at creating an environment where ‘failure’ is seen as a learning experience, not a problem.
Regular meetings allow you to troubleshoot situations as a team.
Everyone benefits from knowledge sharing, discussing the blockages to success and replicates winning strategies.
While money is certainly a good motivator, it may not be enough to build lasting success.
What produces loyalty, that irrational willingness to commit to the organisation even when offered more money elsewhere, is the feeling that the leaders of our company would be willing to sacrifice their time and energy to help us.