What if… what happens in the meeting STAYS in the meeting?
Here are 2 fantastic ways to get a huge ROI from your recent mid-year sales meeting.
And they both deal with your worst nightmare that, despite everyone’s best intention and the promise that a new initiative offers, back at work, a day/ a week/ a month after the meeting, nothing has changed.
Marshall Goldsmith (a US business coach of note, www.marshallgoldsmith.com) has a theory about why implementation is difficult despite what everyone says they’ll do at the meeting.
That is, why we (you, the reps, and me) don’t do what we know we should?
He reckons we all have a persistent workplace fantasy. It’s a kind of inner voice, and it goes like this:
”I am very busy right now.
In fact, I am as busy as I’ve ever been in my working life. Sometimes (most times?) I feel that’s it’s a little out-of-control. But I am dealing with some unique and special challenges.
I think the worst of it will be over very soon.
Then I’m going to take a couple of weeks to get organised, spend more time with my family, get serious about exercising and diet, and work on this improvement”.
It’s a fantasy because the “couple of weeks” never actually occur.
I’m betting that, post-meeting, things are a little crazier than before and your response has been to immerse yourself even deeper, hopefully to create the space for the new initiative. Problem is, in time the shine fades from the new initiative and you’ll forget about it.
This describes classic workplace inertia.
So as you sat with your sales team and talked about implementation or tweaking their effort or doing something new or different, understand that they were probably thinking, “sure, great idea. As soon as I get the things I have to do now off my list I’ll get cracking, get organised, get to it”.
Realise that promoting some change is not just getting agreement that the “new thing” is worthy.
It’s also about the tough question of “What am I willing to change now?”
Ask them, “in order to do this now, what do you have to stop doing to make some space?”
Why do we always assume that we have some unoccupied space (energy, time, drive) that new tasks simply fall into? Or we assume that the reps are capable of restructuring priorities to make the space.
It’s because we are always adding things to our “to do” list that creates the stress and anxiety in work. Stop the torment and reduce the inertia by letting some things go.
Idea 1: This is a terrific leadership opportunity for you to frame the desired change during the meeting.
Point out what is, and isn’t, relevant to the issue, and what can be stopped/ dropped so you can focus their efforts. Listen to, clarify, and understand their concerns.
Reduce the complexity of the desired change and bring the needed clarity of effort.
Idea 2: Try this to get team ownership in the change. It’s great if there’s flexibility in how the change(s) can be implemented or there’s some resistance by some reps.
Cut some sheets of blank paper up into the size of a $20 note (15cm x 7.5cm).
On one side write $5, $10, $20, $50 or $100. Hand 1 or 2 sets to each person.
Then ask them to write their ideas or objections or gripes on the blank side.
The more serious they feel about their idea or issue the larger the denomination.
They can then drop all their “money” into a cardboard “money box” in the centre of the group.
You (or a rep) can fish the pieces of paper out at random and discuss both the “seriousness/ importance” (based on the $s) and the particular issue/ idea as a round table exercise.
There are many benefits to this activity. Firstly, with only one or two “$100” bills they have to select the best idea/ biggest gripe. It forces them to prioritise their thoughts.
Next, trust is improved because the process is open. The temptation to whinge in private is reduced. Issues are dealt with fairly and positively.
Then the money box allows you to truly “get” the team’s perspective and tap into their diverse talent and skills. Why not get a “senior” rep to facilitate the discussion.
Lastly, there’s an award for “Best Idea(s) on Tour” which will strengthen ownership and engagement in the implementation of the new initiative.
In this way you’ll overcome the drawback of what happens at the meeting, stays at the meeting.