Home > Ideas > Creating a fire or burning wholesale?

Creating a fire or burning wholesale?

Sales Manager, are you driving numbers or excellence?

What is your message to your team-members?

–          I need you to get me those numbers somehow.

–          Let’s work on a plan for you to reach your numbers.

Yes, you have Business Objectives and Sales Targets and your review at the end of the quarter or year would be based on the results you achieve. Many Managers believe that it’s important to achieve objectives at any cost, because there are no points for being nice.

There is no single way to get there – but for sure there are some robust methods and some really hard-nosed ones; both would get you there but think about the consequences: Are your methods inclusive and long-term or short-term and bloody?

Yes, you probably can provide me a number of examples of extremely tough Managers who are known to produce results, and some mild-mannered ones who fall short. The real answers would appear when you look beyond the numbers – is the Manager able to produce such results on all parameters? Is he or she able to retain a team for long-term? Are his team-members motivated and eager to perform?

The critical questions to ask are these:

–          Does the Manager convey his expectations in clear terms?

It is important that the targets are agreed upon mutually and the necessary inputs provided on a timely basis. It is not enough that the Manager just conveys a number and sends the team scurrying to achieve them – he needs to be with them all the way.


–          How much time does the Manager spend in developing the team member?

Here are two ways the Manager can be with the team – he can help them in the planning process by providing insights from his own past experience and better skills. And when the team visits the customer he can go along to observe and then encourage or provide coaching inputs.


–          Is the focus always on performance?

The manager should be seen to be fair, balanced and performance oriented; the yardstick should same for all members of the team. He should never be blind to performance by one or shut eyes to unacceptable behaviour by a favored person.


–          Does the Manager drive Process Adherence?

The Manager should be the owner of all processes and every team-member should adhere to them. All new members should be trained on them and the senior members should not be permitted to bye-pass them. Processes are sacrosanct and ensure that the Customers and the Organisation get the fairest deal. If any process is seems to be skewed the necessary correction should be recommended to make it fair for all concerned.


–          Do the Managers talk about the risks involved in their plans and methods?

Non-adherence to process, change in market conditions or uncertainties in the customers’ buying process can queer the pitch for the organisation – plans can be upset and results can have huge variances. An order that was assured is delayed at the 11th hour or someone missed a step in the process and caused a major non-compliance; a manager can ensure no or low incidence of such events by warning the team members in advance and by auditing processes and practices regularly.

A Manager should have three focus areas – Customer, Organisation and Team. If these priorities are uppermost in his or her mind there is little room for concern.

Tough Managers whose anger is directed at things that matter are much better than the pleasant ones who are defocused from business realities and just want to be the nice guy.

A competent Manager creates a raging fire in his team that results in performance and results!

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  1. May 18, 2012 at 1:49 am

    Many managers try both ways to see what works. And a standard prognosis is “my team lacks ownership”, “my team isn’t showing enough maturity to be committed to the objectives”.
    I guess these elements may be ones for a few posts from you going forward…

    • JayadevM
      May 18, 2012 at 4:05 am

      Hi Rajesh,

      While the scenarios you have highlighted might be the real situation, even in their absence many Managers use them as convenient excuses to hide own inadequacies – conveniently forgetting that training and coaching the team are in his portfolio too.

      Quite often the Manager may the one with the inadequacies and in need of training / other support to bring about the necessary changes. He or she should be ready to accept and rectify this.

      Thank you for suggesting these as future topics.

  2. vijayenggster
    May 18, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Great article …. By reading all the terms & conditions I remember The case of Mahabharata “The Draupadi”….She had in that lifetime prayed to Shiva to grant her a husband with fourteen desired qualities. Shiva, pleased with her devotion, tells her that it is very difficult to get a husband with all fourteen qualities that she desired. But she sticks to her ground and asks for the same. Then Lord Shiva grants her wish saying that she would get the same in her next birth with fourteen husbands……The point that I want to make is something called as Ideal Manager having all the above qualities.

    As per my very little experience all the managers are strong in different -different areas, everybody is having a different style, thinking & different way of implementing the things. The practical situation in the organizations is exactly opposite of all the five points made in this article but on the other hand all the points are correct theoretically & can be stated as the properties of Ideal Manager. I believe that at last all the Managers are human beings & the experience, personality & background in total will reflect in their working & implementation style. They will implement the things accordingly. As far as the results in the organization is concerned, the numbers are important you have to get it by hook or by crook … the managers have no way out other than to use all the tools in their tool set to get the results.

    • JayadevM
      May 18, 2012 at 11:09 am

      Hello Vijay

      You have read the article in detail and made an engaging and interesting response.

      The Mahabharat anecdote is wonderful -you convinced us that it’s close to impossible to find all the required qualities in one person.

      Managers, are human, they can have faults, they have to achieve results .. All acceptable!

      But get them by hook or by crook .. not acceptable! I don’t think such a strategy will help in the long-term, it simply won’t succeed.

      In response to your statement “the points mentioned are good on paper but impossible to practice” I have this to say – A person comes from the USA and takes the car out to drive to work; he decides to drive like he does back home. It is not convenient or practical for him to drive on the other side – what do you think would be the result.

      It is not enough that we do what is convenient, business grows on a solid base when we do what is right. Anything goes is a sure-fire formula for disaster.

      Like a mentioned to someone else Managers need to be aware of their own strengths and weaknesses – practice your strengths to the utmost, find ways to overcome the weaknesses, through training or coaching; there is the possibility of delegating some tasks to the team – there may be someone in the team who can do it well.

      The Managers has a whole lot of resources to work with – let him learn to use them optimally. If he tries to hide problems or works around them, they will soon come back and bite. So it’s best to deal with them right away.

  3. Jamy
    May 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    A great manager leads by example and is willing to learn something new everyday and impart that knowledge to the team as well so the team gets better and better with that new piece of information; you have to walk the talk and not just sit in a corner and watch while the team does all the hard work. When you set a target or an objective, the first step needs to be taken by the manager and the path to the objective should be broken down in clear steps, if not the team gets confused and that is when the links break down- many managers fall into this category because either they have blaring weaknesses which they are trying to hide and would not want them to be exposed or they are just trying to prove a point to their superiors that the team lacks training and needs a refresher course or induction of more skilled members when the manager himself/ herself does not want to take time and maybe learn/ train from experienced, seasoned campaigners in the team.

    When I moved into Fairmont in June 2011, one of the first things I did was to get a history lesson of the property from the longest- serving employees, the knowledge of which came in very handy while mingling with guests at the Manager’s cocktail party every Wednesday night; when changes were made slowly but steadily to operations, it was made clear to the team that there might be teething problems with new processes and unforeseen issues are bound to pop-up, but the important thing is that we all speak the same language and adhere to the new guidelines so we can back up each other; also email the whole team on situations encountered so we can do better the next time. So the trust and the confidence has been instilled. You just cannot go wrong after that and the ones who are disengaged only have 2 choices- perform or perish!

    The manager is thus a winner on all fronts- HR, productivity, efficiency, Customer Satisfaction…. you name it 🙂

    Great article Jay!!

    • JayadevM
      May 18, 2012 at 3:10 pm

      Hello Jamy

      Thank you for reading and for offering such a detailed elaboration of your own practices and the skills needed to excel as a Manager.

      I am sure all readers will benefit from reading this.

  4. Vijay Singh
    May 18, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    Fully Agreed & points noted !!! Mr. Jamy .. Gud One ..!!!

    • JayadevM
      May 19, 2012 at 3:44 am

      Hello Vijay

      Welcome back. Work’s kept you busy these days – I can see a raging fire of energy and performance there.

      All the best!

    • Jamy
      May 19, 2012 at 4:25 am

      Thanks Mr. Vijay!

  5. vijay singh
    May 19, 2012 at 7:21 am

    Vijay Singh & Vijayenggster both are same actually … the post goes from different email ids sometime …. Anyway I am enjoying the articles …!!!

    • JayadevM
      May 19, 2012 at 7:28 am

      Wow! Now I have to deal with split personalities too?

      No! Just joking, Vijay!

      No issues – happy that you are reading and adding useful comments. Pleasure to hear from you.

  6. vijayenggster
    May 19, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Again a nice article….we all have these kind of road blocks many times….i don’t know exactly why it is happening may be our brain (PC) is going is out of memory & the system hangs…personally it is happening with me, when lot of things comes together & suddenly everything is blackout…Than I will take a small break…in my case its facebook, playing a game, call my mom or have a glass of cold water and finally back to work & give a fresh start to all the pending issues. The main point is to get relax & engage yourself with alternate activity.

    Our brain is very sensitive & it senses the first thing which is coming in touch with our five sense organs & in this case we are engaging our sense organs to different direction to provide a relief to our brain. One day in my early college days …I asked my cousin who is a Doctor, why we are always having cold beer & why it is not bitter in taste compared to beer at room temp. …I am expecting some hardcore medical science answer… & he explains ….When we are having cold beer, As touch sensation to our tongue, both spiciness and coolness are transmitted to the brain via the trigeminal nerve, rather than the three classical nerves for taste. “The set of nerves that carry the burn and cooling sensation are different than from taste sensation” & the final messages from our most of the sensors.. which is transmitted to our brain is only that beer is cold…!!! I am just trying to give a medical angle to the discussion.

    • JayadevM
      May 19, 2012 at 8:56 am

      Now the science of beer drinking; this blog is not geared to deal with that except fill up another glass and say “Cheers!”

      But yes, taking the mind of the task and even focusing on some less intense activity can rejuvenate the brain. Even music helps.

  7. vijayenggster
    May 19, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Above is for different article.. I have posted by mistake & there is no del tab. This is for article “Out of the blocks solutions!”.

    • JayadevM
      May 19, 2012 at 8:57 am

      Not an issue … I will retain one and delete the other.

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