Sales Assembly’s Leadership Safari is a monthly collection of tips, trends, and tactics to help you navigate the vast landscape of Revenue Leadership – featuring yours truly, Ranger Christina Brady, President here at Sales Assembly.
Let’s Get Exploring!
SHOULD OUR CULTURE CHANGE?
Most leaders are finding themselves at yet another crossroads. There’s no shortage of uncertainty, and at the top of the list is what transition is to be expected when it comes to your company culture as you explore going back to the office. Alternatively, some companies have made the decision to remain remote, and eliminate their previous offices. If you aren’t considering how this will impact your company culture, it’s time to start.
Culture was previously defined and often confused with “perks”. Things like unlimited PTO, free lunch, office snacks, and a game room were listed proudly on job postings. When each of those things was eliminated in 2020, leaders were forced to determine what, outside of perks, defined who they are.
Your culture should be defined, acknowledged, repeated, and used to establish your mission overall. With yet another change ahead – the return to a new normal – here are a few tips on what building blocks to consider to create or improve your company culture:
- Avoid confusing “perks” and “benefits” with culture. For example, a game room isn’t culture, but providing a space for needed mental breaks is.
- Identify the behaviors you want to encourage each employee to embody. Integrity, Kindness, Grit, Accountability, etc.
- Establish how you will hire with your culture in mind. Do you need to change your interview process?
- A list of single-word identifiers can work, but a statement-based culture identification can too! For example: “We are not mean”, “We always act with integrity”, “We respect our peers”, “We welcome diversity of thought, race, culture, and orientation”, “We value creativity”.
- Involve your employees! Especially if you’re rebuilding or tweaking your culture, survey your employees to gain their thoughts and buy-in.
Remember, as Built in reminds us, a strong culture impacts your bottom line, employee morale, and ability to hire. Give it the focus it deserves as you head back to your new normal!
CAN I ASK FOR FEEDBACK FROM MY EMPLOYEES?
Effective and highly skilled leaders typically have a high EQ and seek out opportunities to continue to grow and learn. They want to ensure that they are respected by their employees and leading them in a way that yields results, high morale, and a thriving culture. Often, this leads to a polarizing question: should I ask my reps for direct feedback? The short answer is “yes”. The longer answer is “yes, but the method matters immensely.” Asking a direct report for in-person, personal, and subjective feedback is a tricky area. In most cases, avoid it altogether, even if you have a strong relationship with the individual. Consider the following:
- As their leader, you have direct control over their career development. Your direct report wants to be liked and respected by you. They will always fear that critical feedback could impact your relationship, and thus, their personal wellbeing.
- You’re a human, and you’re likely to react like a human if given critical feedback. Even if you promise to remain neutral, and welcome honest feedback, hearing something “negative” hurts. You can’t guarantee that your attitude won’t sour, and you can’t guarantee that hearing critical feedback from a direct report won’t impact your perception of them.
- You may not get an honest answer. Your employees want to make you happy, so asking for feedback directly, especially in a 1:1 setting may result in overly positive feedback, and ultimately ensure you never hear critical feedback that can make you a stronger leader.
If asking your team directly for feedback about you as their leader is a bad idea (and in most cases, it is), what can you do instead? Here are a few ways to get the feedback you crave, while protecting your team, and your relationships with them.
- Skip Level Meetings. Your manager (likely a Director or VP) meets with your entire team at once and has a structured conversation to collect feedback. Questions are shared with the team ahead of time, and feedback is given to the manager immediately following.
- Anonymous Feedback. Feedback request and list of questions sent to your team from an anonymous 3rd party resource.
- Skip Level 1:1’s. Your manager (likely a Director of VP) meeting with each individual on your team in a 1:1 setting to collect feedback.
- Team Spokesperson
- The team meets on their own with a pre-set list of questions and collects their feedback. In another team meeting, a designated spokesperson delivers the team feedback to you.
- DISCLAIMER: This is an option, but to be considered last. There’s still a risk of the spokesperson not feeling comfortable delivering the feedback, or being perceived as the individual that personally shared the sentiment. When in doubt, choose one of the three prior options first!
Remember, as a leader, your job is to make your company a safe place for them. Even with the best intentions, don’t set them up for failure!
Below are a few tips from leading Tech Sales pros throughout our awesome community:
Sarina Asher: VP of CS at Healthjoy
Q: How do you approach difficult conversations?
A: I’ve come to learn that holding difficult conversations is part of work and life, and it’s never easy. To the best of my ability, I approach these discussions from a place of empathy and curiosity. This frame helps me to stay open-minded and keep the bigger picture in view. What I often find is that these interactions are some of the best opportunities to build relationships and grow.
Rachael Rohn: Regional President, Chicagoland at Compass
Q: How do you effectively manage multiple urgent priorities?
A: I assess all my priorities on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis to stay ahead of procrastination and reduce as many fire drills as possible. My process is to list my priority projects, including the various steps required to complete the project and how long I believe each step will take.
I review the list to determine what I can delegate with ease. I then ask myself if there’s anything else I can delegate that also allows me to be comfortable if the work was done at 80% of my standard as long as it was done on time. I have daily calendar blocks totaling 1.5 hours called “priority project work” which is the time I use to delegate and action against.
Hopefully, you’re starting to hire again, or warming your bench. When hiring, and headcount planning, average ramp time by role is important. You need to know when you can expect your new hire to start producing at their full capacity! Improper expectations can result in employee burnout, low morale, poor skill development, or premature performance management. Here’s a look at average ramp times by role:
- Sales Leaders: 120-180 days
- Account Executives: 90-180 days
- BDR/SDRs: 65-90 days. (Some companies find that their BDR/SDR team is taking longer to ramp. LinkedIn lays out where you may be hitting some speed bumps!
- Account Managers/Growth Reps: 90-120 days
- Client Success Managers: 120-180 days
Some roles have a wide variance in average ramp times. The variables are the type of product, the level of technical acumen, the average sales cycle, and the number of leads/book size. If your ramp times are ineffective, consider if you’re setting the proper expectations with your new hire, and giving them the support they need to hit your timeline