10 tips to race your team to victory

So You Think it’s hard to win in business? Think again. Fortunately it’s not nearly as dependant on chance as picking a winning Americain. Take charge of your success with these 10 tips that are sure to help you race your team to victory!

In February 2005, I took on a new Sales management role with the challenging task of turning around a non-performing business. The average sales performance over the last 12 months was only 75% of target. By 2006, my team of 12 sales people was consistently achieving an average 110% of target!

The following principles, learnt through experience, over a number of years of success and failures, will help any business leader improve their team’s performance.

1. Two ears and one mouth, use them proportionately 


For the first six weeks, I spent most of my time with my direct reports, peers and my boss, asking questions, listening and then asking even more questions so I could understand the problem(s) really well.

2. Rules before Relationships = Rebellion


Coffees, lunches, drinks and joint sales calls were a great way to get to know people better and build individual relationships.

3. Evolution or Revolution?

Choose and clearly communicate
I made the decision that we were going to work on small, systematic, degree changes. I shared the plan with the team individually and as a group.

4. Inspect what you expect


I set up a system of weekly, monthly and quarterly reviews, focusing on tasks ranging from tactical activities to strategic outcomes as the periods got longer. The existing Customer Relationship Management system was invaluable in helping me review activity and sales so I could appropriately praise team member progress and redirect unacceptable attitudes.

5. Drive vehicles with full tanks


Soon, those who were ‘in-it-to-win-it’ became evident more through their actions, less so through their words. I invested more of my energies on mentoring those who were motivated to succeed. I discovered that Darren (name changed) wanted to take his girl-friend on a holiday to Bali. I helped him break down his sales target to a daily activity rate and focus on achieving it daily. His dream became reality!

6. Confrontation is healthy


The ‘others’ were given direct feedback in a respectful manner. It was very clear that there would be an escalation of known consequences, meaning one verbal discussion, then a written warning and a performance-improvement-plan which culminated in termination if performance did not change after repeated opportunities.

7. Always upgrade with replacements


Intentionally, we worked with external help to replace with people who fit the team and the role a lot better. This included increasing salary ranges, improving incentive packages and working harder to attract and keep talent in the team.

8. Train them to fish


We built a culture of constant learning by introducing annual professional training as well as a 30-minute training component at every weekly sales meeting. This reiterated the core concepts taught at those events. Finally, these were recapitulated after each joint sales call to maximise real-time performance.

9. Share the good news


People were encouraged to share wins and peer recognition spontaneously, as it happened, as against the worn-out company ‘newsletter’. This empowered people to recognise others as good stuff happened and share wins in a timely manner. All of this contributed to a constant sense of a successful team.

10. Share and live the vision


Leaving this to posters in the board room or sections on corporate websites can be a tragic mistake! Our team’s vision was to be the best across the 10 operating locations of our Company, across the world, so as to make a tangible difference to the organisation’s people and customers. We used every opportunity to talk about and reiterate the vision through events and activities – both big and small. Vision is usually ‘caught’ by people from their leaders, not ‘taught’.

Our community of readers (who are leaders) and I, would love to hear any principles you have used to make your team win. Please click the Comments link below to share.