The Coaching Effect Blog

Sales Managers--roadblock or on-ramp for strategy and growth?

Posted by Bill Eckstrom

December 9, 2011

describe the imageEcSELL is currently going through our semi-annual retreat.  Goals are reviewed, tweaks are made, a deeper understanding of our member and associate needs is causing change.  We spend three, half days where our team shares where they’ve been (themselves and their departments), where they’re at, but most importantly, where they want to be professionally and personally.

This year I learned a valuable lesson—a mistake I almost made.

For many reasons I gave strong consideration to cancelling the sessions.  We have so much on our respective plates I was a breath away from sending an email with something to the affect “Thanks to all of you, your commitments and diligent work, we have so much to accomplish and taking the time to meet for consecutive days will put us behind in our efforts to serve our members…”  The email was never sent and as a result I and the balance of our team are growing in many ways.

A meeting or retreat does not denote a powerful and time worthy event, it is what’s covered that determines its value.  Make sure you put together an agenda and provide your team time to reflect on the questions and strategy ahead of time.  Also, don’t worry about being vague in what you are asking—too much specificity can push too much order and not enough complexity.

This week, here is what each department head covered:

I.  What is your three year vision for EcSELL and how does this support your professional and personal goals? 

Please consider:

   a.  The evolution of your role in the company in three years-what does it look like?

   b.  Who will we be serving?

   c.  How will we be serving them?

   d.  What will we look like, what is our reputation?

II. In three years, does your professional role still support your personal dreams?

   a.  What are your personal dreams?

III.  Anything else?

While there were no major surprises (there shouldn’t be), there has been amazing dialogue, several epiphanies and growth opportunities identified.  All this and we’ve only been through the first day! 

Side note--The reason we focused on three years is due to a dynamic market place.  To try and plan beyond three years may hinder your ability to capture opportunities that arise due to change.

A few take-a-ways…

1.  Shut up and listen.  Ask the right questions and don’t think everyone always wants to hear from the head of the company/division.  If you’ve done your job identifying and acquiring the right talent there is no way you can out-think or out-strategize the entire group.

2.  In concert with the above, the right questions will capture the intellectual capital of the entire group.  Ask better questions than providing what you believe to be the best solutions.

3.  As the manager/leader/supervisor of the group—go last.  You don’t want your thoughts to impact how others answer.

4.  End each session/report with a minimum of three action items.



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