A good manager is just like a good coach. At least that’s the comparison made recently in a posting on CBS Money Watch.
Just like coaches who care adept at breaking down “game tape” and using that process to point out areas that need practice, a good manager relies on observation and reinforcement to point out various skills and habits that could become strengths for the individual worker (and the company) with some extra attention and effort.
Like any good coach the best managers have a keen eye for how a slight tweak in a process or an approach can help each employee on their team perform better.
And employees respond to that attention. Earlier this year Blessing White updated its Employee Engagement Report and reiterated that there is a sharp correlation between a manager’s frequent interaction and the employee’s attitude toward their job’s purpose. These employees are more productive and, as such, more profitable.
Employees are more likely to be engaged when they feel their manager understands what they do well, encourages them to use those skills as much as possible, and recognizes and rewards their achievements when they do. Here a good manager—like a good coach—use a combination of interaction and reinforcement to get more out of their “players”.
Businesses need employees who are both prepared and motivated to meet the challenges and opportunities that they face in the real world. And managers need recognition tools that can help them coach employees along. The best systems make the process easy; fully automating all the mechanics of goal setting, communication and rewarding. So if you want your managers to become better coaches start your game plan by making sure they have the best recognition system available.
Smart organizations know that getting contributions across the entire range of sales people begins with giving managers the ability to spot and reinforce the right sales behaviors.
In addition to the obvious revenue goals, here are 6 additional sales traits you might want managers to showcase and reward in your program:
1. Account penetration. What’s the optimum mix of products and services within select accounts and is the rep getting his share? Good managers know you get this more often when you know a client’s business as well (if not better) than your own.
2. SWAT analysis articulation. Ask a top sales person at any time to sketch out a prospect’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and they will do so in a compelling manner. It’s an exercise they do in their heads constantly as they think through the business rational for what they’re selling. It’s a good way for managers to reward reps who are truly engaged in the process.
3. Quality of interactions. Note: I didn’t say quantity. Good sales people do their homework and have a message and a meaning planned for every interaction. The same goes with their dealings with internal resources. Good manager appreciate and recognize when reps do both.
4. Resource dependency. Reps that can close sales without an overwhelming amount of assistance from supporting resources are worth their weight in gold. Good managers understand the tradeoff between expertize utilization and sheer dependency on it.
5. Pipeline validity. Reps who can accurately articulate where they stand with each prospect throughout out the sales process know how strategic selling really works. So as a result they “work” the process. They also help companies forecast revenues with more accuracy. Reps that exaggerate or assume can cost the company money—and their managers their jobs
6. Customer renewal velocity. Buyers who see the rep as a “trusted advisor” are more likely to renew and extend contracts. Clients who do this without a bid process are obviously worth more. Everyone wins when that happens.
According to a blurb published in the Wall Street Journal, consumers have less go-to brands today than they did before the great economic meltdown.
What is a “go-to brand” exactly? It’s a product or service that buyers must have; one they won’t substitute for and are willing to pay a premium for because they believe in its quality and value.
Go-to brands are big money makers for the companies that possess them. Satisfied customers spend more over their lifetimes; they recommend those services or products to others and they continue to remain loyal even in the face of modest cost increases or the occasional service miscue.
And while tougher economic times may have shortened the elasticity between price and blind loyalty, no marketer would argue that a brand’s reputation is not the biggest competitive advantage a company can have. And in that calculation employee actions and attitudes are paramount.
The authenticity of any brand—its perception of being genuine, legitimate and trustworthy—is directly dependent on the willingness of the company’s employees to act and deliver in a manner that is consistent with customer expectations . Here a solid recognition program can help you communicate what it is that your customers except and what role the employees play in satisfying them. Here HR (and marketing) can work together to communicate goals to employees, measure the results, and reward the desired outcomes.
So much is riding on the brand and in today’s economy its reputation can be the difference corporate growth and stagnation. As you think about ways to make your brand a “go-to” choice for your targeted customers, think about the role your recognition program can play in making that happened.
Have we reached a tipping point in the cash vs. non-cash utilization? Have the value spreads between what constitutes a cash bonus and what is an acceptable amount for a non-cash award narrowed?
Most companies use cash for the big bonuses and non-cash for the smaller ones. But according to the Incentive Research Foundation, the gap is becoming less prominent. About two-thirds of companies give their employees gift cards, says the IRF. Almost half as holiday gifts or year-end bonuses.
And while these particular IRF findings (published late last year but recently discussed in Time Magazine) don’t address other forms of non-cash compensation like; catalogue merchandize, company sponsored debit cards and individual or group travel, I would venture to say that the trend is rising across the board.
Why is that? Most business leaders understand that non-cash awards deliver more “bang” for the compensation buck. They recognize that non-cash awards are more efficient because they are more effective. They have read the studies that non-cash awards can do more to capture an employee’s attention than bigger cash bonuses can. And because of their celebratory nature, they realize non-cash is more promotable within the organization. These aspects play a huge role in helping companies more effectively connect individual behavior with organizational goals.
As compensation leaders examine the impact of any and all elements within the total rewards framework, the debate over where and when to use each has shifted. Non-cash awards are now seen as a growing and more viable component within the comp mix; options that employers can rely on more when trying to motivate employees.
Are you giving employees what they really want?
Is non-cash playing the proper role within your totals rewards mix?
The use of pay for performance (PFP) has been increasing in businesses. Depending on which sources you cite, up to 83% of all companies have some form of a performance-based, cash payout component in place.
While these businesses have bought into the concept of PFP, the majority also feel that they are not getting the desired rate of return. That “satisfaction gap” comes from relying too much on cash and opens a window for compensation leaders to examine additional non-cash rewards as an alternative incentive. Advocates of PFPs will stipulate that when implemented correctly they do increase employee productivity.
The question worth asking is this: When it comes to optimizing pay for performance, do you have the right award mix in place?
Companies that rely on cash alone, but fall into the “unsatisfied” camp may be interested in a study out of Wichita State University that found when people make a hypothetical choice between cash and non-cash incentives, cash is indeed preferred by employees. However—and here is the hook—when it’s no longer hypothetical, meaning when an award is identified, employees actually performed better in pursuit of it, even when the award was of equal value to the cash alternative . In other words when employees can zoom in and identify something that they really want they really prefer the non-cash alternative.
As organizations look to do more with less, the argument can be made that introducing a non-cash component to a PFP scheme (remember the majority of executives feel they are underperforming) may make the PFP more effective and there for more efficient than one with an “all cash” payout.