Want to stand out from the crowd?
Do what you say you are going to do 100% of the time.
What, you were looking for the silver bullet, the magic potion, the little pixie dust to spread over your projects? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. You first need to do what you said you were going to do, 100% of the time.
Many years ago, in 1990 to be precise–I was promoted to my first manager role. I was re-located to Atlanta, Georgia, and had 23 full time salespeople scattered from Washington DC and Baltimore through the Carolina’s, down to Miami and over to New Orleans. This was a big team to manage, by anyone’s standards. I was not a leader yet– and not really a manger either–but I was eager.
My first of many mistakes was thinking everyone managed their territories like I managed mine when I started in 1980. My biggest surprise was that people would simply blow off my request to have something in on time. This was way before emails and cell phone. We did, however, have some breakthrough technology that was fast getting traction calledvoicemail and answering machines, which was a fantastic upgrade from pagers.
Back then one of the biggest tasks of a Sales Manager was making sure all of your programs were being sold and placed in the marketplace. Each quarter brought a fresh sampling of programs to put in the bag and as the Sales Manager, I needed to know where everyone was at each week on each program. So, on a certain day, I expected a message from everyone to give me an update on their progress.
Shockingly, the first week went by and about 25% of my team did not respond. I gave them a one day grace period and still crickets. Nothing. So I began the process of tracking them down. Remember, there were no cell phones, no email, so you left messages.
After 2-3 days I heard back from the lollygaggers and their response was basically, ”I did not think it was that important and figured I could get back with you when I had time.”
Some of them were sincere, some were not, and some simply were not working very hard. I fixed that problem pretty quickly and it rarely was an issue going forward.
Now it’s 28 years later. We have more technology than we ever dreamed of back in the day. You can call from where in the world, phone, Skype, Google Hangouts, Text, email, Face time. You have plenty of options.
Guess what? My number one issue with leading and working with large groups is still responsiveness (or lack thereof!)
I can’t believe so many people think non-responsive is okay and professional. It’s not, and it eventually becomes a part of a person’s reputation and holds them back in their careers. And it’s so simple to fix.
At this stage of my professional career, I get the opportunity to coach some great up and coming leaders, sales professionals and other people in customer facing roles. I always enjoy it when people are taking a risk and going from a finance career to sales, or product development to sales. I think the best leaders grow greatly from meaningful customer facing roles. It’s an experience you can’t read about, or learn from sitting in a classroom, or even having a consultant give you the cliff notes. Those stripes have to be earned one sales call at a time.
When one of these brave souls asks for help to get started in a customer facing role, I tell them 3 things to do 100% if the time:
1) Always do what you say you are going to do, no matter what happens. Do it on time and complete it.
2) Always be there when you promised. This means being there even when your sports team is in the play offs or the sun is shining for the first time since December. Always be there.
3) Always tell the truth and own every mistake you make because you will make plenty of mistakes.
Do these 3 things, 100% of the time and you will be better than most of your peer group. When these individuals get more experience and develop new skills, they will likely be promoted and move on to the next assignment. But at first it’s these 3 simple things that get you noticed.
Be responsive 100% of the time and you will be surprised what it will do for your career.