By Daniel Robbins, Head of Marketing/PR and operations for OC Facial Center.
I have been in a sales-driven industry since 2002. During that time, I have managed hundreds of sales employees across the U.S. for different companies. In sales, you always hear the phrase: "Hire slow, fire fast." This mantra is especially present during management transitions. Before taking on a new team, previous managers always told me who had to go and was on their way out.
When first taking over a team, I used to ask myself whether work issues arose based on the previous leader's management style or due to the employee's lack of performance. It is important to effectively evaluate employees before deciding that someone is not right in their sales role. I always recommend observing an employee's interactions with customers, in person or over the phone. It is crucial to be able to watch how they speak, sell to and treat your clients. You can find out more from watching than almost any other strategy. Plus, you may identify behaviors that the rest of the team might also be employing correctly or incorrectly. It is your duty as a leader to understand why they were a low performer and figure out if you can help them. Are they able to be re-motivated? Do they have a hidden potential for greatness? Many times I would take over a new team, they would become top performers and fall after I left.
It comes down to making sure people understand they can accomplish amazing things. Finding what motivates them will always help. For example, a recently-hired employee of mine had previously worked as a dish washer. He was in his first sales job but I could tell he was great at speaking with customers. He had mentioned how he wanted to buy a house and move out of his parents' place to be with his girlfriend. I showed him that by achieving a certain goal, he could make the amount he needed to afford the monthly mortgage. This seems simple, yet finding out what truly motivates an employee, whether that is buying a house, car, saving for a child's college tuition or being at the top of a ranking system will help you guide them to the behaviors needed to get them where they want to be. Once you identify this motivation, show them using the bonus or commission system how to actually get the numbers needed to reach that goal. Make sure to follow up as often as you can so this remains front of mind for them. And most importantly, make sure they see you truly care about what is important to them. In one year, that employee was able to buy his dream house and was engaged to be married.
This same applies to your business -- whether you want to hire new employees with no experience or tenured staff. We have found those with minimal experience take a little more time to learn but are usually grateful for being given a chance. Unless you are doing brain surgery, you can teach almost anyone to be a top performer if they are willing to work hard. Tenured employees can bring in bad habits or have a hard time adapting. On the other hand, they may be able to go in and be a top performer without much training.
Anyone can find hundreds of books that teach them how to sell or manage people. These are learned behaviors that can be taught. However, you cannot learn work ethic and a sense of dedication. Look for how your employees implement what you teach them and how quickly they do so. Some employees tell you what you want to hear and simply revert to their old ways. Don't be afraid to be stern and strict about your expectations, especially in the beginning. As long as you show them you are hoping to help them reach their goals in the long run, they will thank you. Most of us like it when someone believes that we can do better, as long as they help show us the way. If they have the will and want to be successful, they should have the ability to perform at peak levels. Analyze every person differently and manage them effectively based on their strengths.
Daniel Robbins is Head of Marketing/PR and operations for OC Facial Center and Founder of 'his' Skincare.