Group Dynamics

Grow Your People to Grow Your Business

Two big factors determine how much a business will grow. Don’t get me wrong, there are a hundred other factors to growing business and revenues, but these two lead the way in any business and any industry.

 

The two factors are:

  • The leader’s personal growth and knowledge level
  • The employees’ personal growth and knowledge levels

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Your mind may already be coming up with arguments. What about market share? Effective marketing? Supply and demand? Margin? Surely some things are more important than personal growth?

 

 

 

 

Let’s look at an example. Do you remember Blockbuster video? In 2004, they were the giants in their industry. They had 9000 stores, 60,000 employees, and millions of customers. Then the industry started to change, bringing Netflix and Redbox into the market. The founder of Netflix met with the CEO of Blockbuster and offered an affiliation that would serve both companies, but Blockbuster took their ball and went home.

 

Even though the CEO of Blockbuster, John Antioco, a man known for turning fledgling businesses around, saw the change coming and sought to adapt, he was voted out. A few years later, Blockbuster was bankrupt.

 

The flaw was relying on what they knew, what they were used to, rather than seeking to learn a new way—to grow and gain a new knowledge set. The leader of any company has to continue to grow and learn of course. That’s a responsibility well agreed upon. However, helping their people grow as well is an underrated necessity.

 

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch

 

Unless leaders plan to do everything themselves, forever, they need to develop competent team members. I believe finding the right people will always be the toughest part of any business. Keeping them is the second challenge.

 

These days, people leave jobs when they no longer feel they are progressing. They are much more likely to stay when they’re growing, even if it’s not financially. Not only does helping them grow work as a retention tool, it also serves the business. The better they get, the better they can serve the clients.

 

To grow a business, grow the people.

 

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What Does a Football Program Teach Us About Business Teams?

The Line [Color]

While listening to the Morning X on Austin’s FM 101.5 radio station in the morning, I heard Chance Mock say something that related perfectly to the world of managing sales teams. Jason, one of the Morning X hosts, was getting Chance’s opinion on Longhorn football related topics since Chance used to be a quarterback for that team while in school at University of Texas.


The two men were comparing the Texas Longhorns to other college teams and commenting on what makes the Longhorns one of the greatest teams in college football. What Chance said was, (I’m paraphrasing) many college teams have a great eleven guys – the starting line. What makes UT so strong is that they have all great guys, so when you substitute any of the starters out, another brilliant player is going in. So many guys want to play for UT that they have a dazzling team from start to finish. Whereas other college teams have the strong eleven, then the quality fades a bit in the rest of the team. Chance said the Longhorns are remarkable because they have depth.

That concept applies the same way for sales and business teams. In order to have a great team, it cannot rely on a few top performers or just a group of mediocre performers. Rather, it is necessary to build some depth in your organization.

 

Here are some ideas to keep in mind while designing and developing your line up.

1.     Plan out what sort of players you want on your team.

2.     Create a vision for that team.

3.     Promote that vision to everyone at team meetings and in one-on-one conversations.
 

It works!  Share your vision, explain the different roles you’re looking to fill, and they step up. Roles don’t have to mean titles or paid positions. I’ve had people on my teams fill roles like field trainer, training assistant, recruiting assistant, sales leader, event organizer, and advertising assistant solely for being part of a winning organization and gaining incredible experience. Share what they may enjoy about the roles, how it will help build the team, how important it is for the team’s long term vision, and they’ll pick which they have a passion for.

 

Retention Is Needed to Build Depth

Retention helps you build a bigger team long-term, and appreciation is an important retention tool. When is the last time you told someone how much you appreciate him or her?  Or gave a small gift of appreciation? They don’t have to cost much. Great appreciation instruments can include picking up the tab for an inexpensive lunch, a new tie, a small, useful accessory that would help them with work, or surprising them with one of their favorite snacks. It helps to get to know those on your team so you know what sort of gift would have a positive impact on them, thus would make them feel appreciated.

The old saying, “Build it and they will come”, is not accurate in my experience, nor is it as much fun. Who wants to go through the entire building process alone? It’s more accurate to live by, “Envision it, promote it, appreciate it, and they will help you build it”. 

 

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Get Everyone On Your Team Involved

Mixer, Mixer, Simple Fixer

How great does it make you feel when you implement something super simple that has a large impact on the quality of an endeavor?  That is how good I felt when I started using mixers at team events and business meetings.

While mentoring groups of sales representatives and organizing team meetings for them that would be both beneficial in their professional development and enjoyable, I tried many things.  Public recognition for their accomplishments was always on the agenda.  It is so important to appreciate the behavior you want to see continue in top producers and see begin in those who have yet to produce.  So every meeting entailed recognition and skill development topics. 

The problem was that there were always reps at meetings that were low performers, so they were neither recognized or sharing “what’s worked for me” skills with others.  I decided I had to find a way to get them involved and feeling good about being part of the group if I wanted them to feel like an important part of the team.   When they feel like an integral part, they are more likely to decide to step up their effort toward improvement – knowing the team is counting on them.

That’s when I began using mixers.

A mixer is a question for which each person at the meeting gives their name and an answer.  It was so simple to implement and created a part of the agenda during which every team member would be interactive and recognized by all other teammates.  The time available on the agenda would determine the type of question asked.

With a lot of time to allot to it, we could ask something like, “What is one of the best pieces of advice you ever received and who was it from?”

With a few short minutes available for it, we’d ask something like, “What is your favorite cereal?” or “What one super or mutant power would you choose for yourself?”

To keep everyone’s attention, involve physiology, and to help each speaker feel applauded after they shared their answers, I’d count aloud, “1, 2, 3,” and we’d all clap once on 4.

Meetings became more fun.  People wanted to share that little bit about themselves.  So we began every meeting from then on with a mixer.  Reps knew that if they showed up late, they didn’t get to take part in the mixer (even if they came it when it was still going on), so we didn’t have many tardy reps.

There is a collateral benefit to mixers as well.  If you are unsure of what developmental topic to put on the agenda or just short on planning time, a mixer can be the solution.  Try “What is one of the most helpful things you’ve learned in this business that can help others improve their performance?”  Then you can emcee all of the wonderful information that follows from every performer on your team.  If a lower performer isn’t sure what to share, you can help direct them by asking follow up questions or reminding them of a previous conversation you had on a similar topic.

Here are a few mixers to get you started:

  • What cartoon character would you be?
  • Favorite Movie / Book / reality TV show / phone app
  • What TV or Movie character would you want to hang out with for a day?
  • What one person in past or present would you want to hang out with for a day?
  • What one store would you want to win a shopping spree for?
  • Anywhere in the world for a week, where would you go?
  • What is the most expensive thing you wish you could buy?
  • Two favorite ice cream toppings?  Or pizza toppings?
  • What is the favorite piece of clothing that you own?
  • What do you feel is the most important ingredient in friendship?
  • What should every man and woman be able to try at least once in their lives?
  • What is one of your favorite inventions?
  • If you could be a contestant on any game show, which would it be?
  • What is the best quality a person can have?
  • What was your favorite meal growing up?
  • If you were a teacher, what subject would you teach?
  • What was the best costume you ever wore for Halloween?
  • If you could be an expert on any subject, what would it be?
  • If you were guaranteed an honest answer to any question, who would you ask and what?
  • What is the most common compliment people give you?

 

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