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The Reset Button!

Sales Managers often face situations at the workplace where “errant” team-members aren’t performing as expected. They fall short of target, do not report on time, they are not even communicating – at such times it’s convenient to adopt an “I am right, he is wrong!” stance. The problem has got to be with the other person always, right?


I teach a Business Communications Course at a local college – the authorities have not imposed attendance norms and the students come and go pretty much as they please – they would turn up on one day and not be present on another. It’s tough for a trainer because he would have to explain the same material more than once to bring everyone up to speed. It can be tough on some students too because they are listening to some stuff a second time.

Having led large teams in the past I had learnt, mostly through a stumbling and standing up process, how to handle such situations. There was one young person seated in front of the class, nose in the air and disdainful of what was being discussed – his thoughts were elsewhere.

I asked: “Rupee for your thoughts! Do you wish to say anything?”

He smiled slightly and said – “No! It’s okay.”

My next question surprised him – “Can you tell all of us a little about your interests and aspirations!” It was a class on communication after all and this was my way of getting him back into the session without having to say “Pay attention!”

After the initial surprise the young man gathered his wits and said – “I wish to make a significant contribution towards the improvement of this country and its poor people. I am writing a paper in economies and am actively involved in social work.”

I was impressed and immediately applauded his zeal and enthusiasm. The other students in the class had not spoken in this manner. He was willing to show me the paper he’d written, so it wasn’t just talk.

But I did not want him to stop there: “Go on! What else?”

This young man also has an active and well presented blog (I visited it after the class); unlike the other kids he was well read too and mentioned the names of half a dozen books he had read in recent times – his blog has book reviews too.

Impressive! Especially in a class where 90% of the kids had not read even a single book in the last few years and didn’t know what a blog was!

Had I not asked him that question and appreciated his efforts I would have had a reluctant participant in my sessions, who resists any new information – he probably wouldn’t have turned up for another class. Now I know what he is capable of, at least from the communication perspective, and it can be harnessed as and when required.  He has the makings of a good leader.

Sales Managers, members of your team may not respond the way you expect them to for one or more of the following:

–          You as Manager have not built  rapport

–          You have not been acknowledging or utilizing your team’s capability

–          You have lost credibility for some reason

–          The team member is probably undergoing some personal strife

–          Maybe your expectation needs to be reset

–          Team member is unable to express herself

–          The way you speak makes the team member think it’s a personal attack

Often it’s a change in perception and response that’s needed for the Manager to see things differently. The world will be a boring place if everyone worked like you and the world does not exist to fulfill your needs – celebrate the diversity and accommodate for deviations.

Try seeing it from your team-member’s point of view:

–          Have you been communicating well?

–          Have you provided all the support needed, at the right time?

–          How much time do you spend with each team member?

–          Have you visited enough customers in recent times to sense how things are going out there?

–          Have you given team members a fair chance to express themselves?

–          Have you led the way at all times to prove your worth?

If the team member refuses to come around in spite of repeated attempts try another route – it may be tempting to throw the book at them or to pull them up for non-compliance. But their apparent “misbehavior” or “insubordination” may be because you had closed the door on them:

–          Get another team-member to speak with him/her

–          Get another Manager to have a chat

–          Speak with H.R. and get a breakthrough

There are no magic wands and don’t expect overnight results, but what’s needed may be an erasure of some of our behaviour and attitude ….

Hit the Reset button – that seems to work with Windows, it could be the one of opportunity for you!

  1. May 23, 2012 at 5:51 am

    nice article Jayadev, its almost 2:00 am but let me add….as much as the reset button the feedback button will go a long way too, depending on whom you ask…..not the one who is always sucking up to you….just a thought.
    Thanks for sharing your ideas, I’m sure it will help the readers like me.

    • JayadevM
      May 23, 2012 at 5:56 am

      Hi Paul

      Thanks for staying up late to read this one!

      I agree with what you said about feedback and promise to deal with it separately – in this article I just wanted to focus on the perceptions and attitude bit.

      How we respond or react depends on our attitude and I want to people to think about that a bit.


  2. Jamy
    May 23, 2012 at 6:19 am

    Good one Jay! Very relevant!!

    • JayadevM
      May 23, 2012 at 6:45 am

      Thank you, Jamy! 🙂

  3. Kailash
    May 23, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Too Good J
    this will fit on the Top 5 of your blogs i have interpreted so far (honestly i haven’t read them all) the people management is also linked with emotional intelligence too. If you read your team member why only team member in that matter of any one you wife, kid, parents, friends any one’s emotional behaviour/thought process right you can get along very well and you can make him do wonders for you but yes for that one should have an attitude as well. Attitude is bread and butter. Attitude made once a scientist most respected president of India.

    • JayadevM
      May 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      Kailash, well said.

      Thanks for visiting again!

  4. Jude Varghese
    May 23, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Gudone Jayadev Sir, to be honest i dont read all ur blogs…..but this one is super……

    • JayadevM
      May 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      Hi Jude, thank you for reading … am glad you found this one useful!

  5. tomc@t
    May 23, 2012 at 10:08 am

    There are some unspoken side to the eg. like how the rest of the team reacted to the whole thing.. more than that person, I’m sure the way you engage can impact the team as a whole.

    Good one !!!

    • JayadevM
      May 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm


      Thank you for sharing that insight … Yes, the trainer or teacher or manager can create a series of such experiences for all the participants or team-members and such experiences lead to transformation over a period of time.

  6. May 23, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Very interesting Jay. Enjoyed reading .
    Please keep at it…….!!!

    • JayadevM
      May 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm

      Hi Divya,

      Thanks you for stopping by. Glad you liked it.

  7. May 24, 2012 at 4:01 am

    As managers we have to be accommodating too…we should be tolerant and patient and never give up.You have put it across in a very nice way…i am impressed!

    • JayadevM
      May 24, 2012 at 4:46 am

      Hi Catherine,

      Yes, Managers often forget that bit and stick to playing just the hard-nosed and business-like Boss roles.

      Thank you!

  8. Anita Ravikumar
    May 24, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Hi J. nice article. so what was the response in your student after your interaction with him ? trust his apathy in class disappeared.

    • JayadevM
      May 24, 2012 at 9:01 am

      Hi Anita,

      Spot on! Absolutely … I had a more attentive and interested participant.

      Thank you for the appreciation.

  9. vijay singh
    May 25, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Good One Sir Ji…!!! I think the chemistry between the manager and team member should match ..that rhythm is required to understand the behavior of each other. If they both can match & dance on the same beats than everything is fine …otherwise the show is off. The sales is a team effort where manager & team managers are playing a very important role. The strategies, tactics, rewards are the part of the game not possible if the goal is not common or not visible. This is like a chess game… so every move matters & help the organization to the ultimate goal of winning. The Managers really need to absorb the bad & motivate the good part will be the key, this is not easy where the world is full of ego’s & politics in every corner of the office. The reset button can work but with some clear changes in the picture …so hit this button at the earliest while sleeping tonight so that by morning you can give a fresh start.

    • JayadevM
      May 26, 2012 at 10:57 am

      Dear Vijay

      Thank you for reading the article and for taking time to respond.

      But I have to disagree with you this time on 2-3 things:

      1. The Manager is not there to win a Popularity contest – he has to be nice in his dealings with people but very firm in establishing priorities and the need to perform. He will not be retained by his boss for being a friendly Manager – he has to achieve results.

      2. Sales is a Team effort – but who has to do what is clearly defined and the Manager’s job is to get things done by the team. He is available as an enabler and a coach but he will not do the actual selling activity in the field – that is the team’s job and should be established quite clearly.

      3. The Manager has to call a spade a spade – He motivates the achievers and encourages/supports those who are lagging, but when he sees bad he asks for an explanation and takes necessary corrective action. Obviously the wrong-doer needs to be given an opportunity to explain himself, but if the wrong is repeated he has to take action against the wrong-doer. There should be low tolerance for non-compliance and deviant behaviour.

      The Reset Button analogy is used here to prompt Manager’s to think “Is there is another way of looking at things?” Maybe they are too rigid or too closed … the article advocatese flexibility and the willingness to accept another point of view!

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