“…an individual’s current skill-set is of secondary importance to their ability to learn new knowledge, skills and behaviors that will equip them to respond to future challenges. As a result, our focus must shift to finding and developing individuals who are continually able to give up skills, perspectives, and ideas that are no longer relevant, and learn new ones that are.”
The above quote from a CCL white paper continues to support the fact our world is becoming more complex—unable to predict outcomes. To be comfortable with what you know and what you are doing today is to be stagnant, not a desirable label with which to be stuck. In a complex environment, which comprises most every industry and workplace, the need to be constantly developing is critical, for the rate of change is occurring at warp speed (watch this 2:30 video that EcSELL released at a previous Coaching Summit to grasp the significance of how this impacts us as coaches). While sometimes not easy to accept, the decision to further develop your skills and behaviors is ultimately a personal choice. Think of physical exercise as an analogy; we know the benefits of doing it, but we find excuses for not getting it done. Developing our professional skills is no different; we know it will help, but we are just “too busy”. And, just like exercise, expect a similar result—a shorter professional life.
At EcSELL, on all measures of performance we have researched, our members score higher than non-members. Is that because we do so much for them? Perhaps (would love to say unequivocally “yes”), but it has much more to do with our members and their attitude regarding development, their personal desire to grow, and their desire to have their teams achieve higher levels of performance. I can’t say for sure they are all organic learners, but if not they have certainly elected to find a resource that builds and/or enhances a development culture. Our members understand the difference development makes on sales performance and they don’t make it optional for their teams. They have created and support a development culture with resources everyone can access, so there are no excuses.
The challenge with today’s training programs, with curriculums, is they typically denote a start and stop to development, there seems to be a destination. You will hear “I finished the program…”, “I took a class this year…”, “I attended a seminar”, etc., and while not bad, these types of training do not promote a culture of development. To truly create a development culture, think of it and talk about it as a journey. At EcSELL, we have dropped the word “training” from our lexicon and now use “development”. At what point does development stop? Never!
To stop developing is to stop growing.
To stop growing limits the performance of your team.
To limit the performance of your team should put your career on hold.
When you look at our sales performance equation, the “D”, development, is the multiplier. It transforms processes, teams and results. When you think about it logically, your sales departments are perfectly equipped for the results you are getting today. Said another way, today’s sales team performance is the exact output of management’s coaching acumen. If you are comfortable with today’s results, then do nothing, but if you believe next year’s goals will increase, you better start improving your coaching skills-- today.
Development best practices to employ for you and your team:
- Require all associates within your teams to have a minimum amount of professional development hours in a certain year. 40 hours is not unreasonable and we have some members that follow this best practice. Also make sure a chunk of the required hours cannot be filled with product/market information. Growth comes from learning outside of your industry!
- Dedicate part of every team sales meeting to development.
- Enlist other managers, your reps, other associates within your company and partner/vendors to provide the education at every possible opportunity—you don’t have to do it all!
- Don’t assume managers and reps know what they need to learn, use coaching review forms to understand where they need help.
- Provide development in areas you might think too basic, but are core to blocking and tackling—items such as SMART goals, time management, conflict resolution, leadership, etc. These are proven to be very popular topics in sales teams for both management and reps.
- Take the lead. We see it all too often, a manager tells those on their team to attend a seminar or take a class, but when asked if they are participating we hear “I’m too busy”. Instead of sending those on your team, consider asking them to join you…
It is now up to you. Are you too busy?