Billy was an excellent sales manager. He was driven, he worked hard and he always got results.
That’s why I had hired him at two different companies and why I’d be happy to hire him again.
But one year, our company introduced a formal performance appraisal system that required him to gather 360-degree feedback – where all sorts of people who dealt with him were asked to honestly evaluate the way he went about his job.
To my surprise, his team members didn’t see him as the same high-achieving manager that I saw.
Sure, they appreciated his hard work and commitment, and they acknowledged his knowledge and competence as a sales professional.
But they found him cold and difficult to get to know. As a result, they found it difficult to approach him with their problems.
No! Surely, they just needed to know him a bit better . . . like I did.
I sat down with Billy to share the results of the feedback. Unlike me, he wasn’t surprised. He said he felt as though he didn’t know his team members as well as he should – individually, that is, rather than as a team.
“I don’t want to make the mistake of over-socialising with them,” he explained. “I’ve seen too many problems caused by bosses who confuse friendship and leadership.”
Fair enough. But how could we fix the problem?
We came up with a simple plan.
Being the disciplined person he was, he knew he got through four cups of coffee a day. He always made it himself, going to the staff kitchen and then taking it back to his desk.
We agreed he would change his routine. Four times a day, he would go to make a coffee – but then he would not return to his desk.
Instead, he would use the 5-10 minutes it took to drink the coffee to sit and chat with someone on the staff – it didn’t matter who, as long as it provided the chance for them to get to know each other.
That way, we figured, he would incorporate 30-40 minutes a day into his schedule that would lead to him building better one-to-one relationships with his people.
And it worked.
PHOTO – espos