10 Habits Bosses Love

By Margaret Steen

Every boss wants employees who do their jobs well. But even among highly competent employees, practicing certain habits can really make you distinguish yourself. Here are 10 tips for making sure you’re on the boss’s A-list:

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Especially at the beginning of your relationship — that is, when either you or the boss is new to the job — err on the side of giving your boss too much information and asking too many questions.

“There’s no such thing as a dumb question,” says Marianne Adoradio, a Silicon Valley recruiter and career counselor. “Look at it as information gathering.”

Don’t keep up the constant stream of communication unless your boss likes it, though. It’s best to ask directly whether you’re giving the boss enough information or too much.

Acknowledge What the Boss Says

Bosses appreciate “responsive listening,” says John Farner, principal of Russell Employee Management Consulting. When your boss asks you to do something or suggests ways for you to improve your work, let her know you heard.

Collaborate

When your boss has a new idea, respond to it in a constructive way instead of throwing up roadblocks.

“Be willing to brainstorm ways to get something done,” says Michael Beasley, principal of Career-Crossings and a leadership and career development coach.

Build Relationships

You’ll make your boss look good if you establish a good rapport with your department’s customers, whether they’re inside the company or outside. Bring back what you learn — about ways to offer better customer service, for example — to your boss. This is also helpful for your own career development.

“Everybody wins in the long run,” Adoradio says.

Understand How You Fit In

Is your boss detail-oriented, or someone who keeps his head in the clouds?

“The boss’s personality is just incredibly important,” says Norm Meshriy, a career counselor and principal of Career Insights.

Equally important is understanding what your boss wants in an employee. It may be, for example, that a boss who is detail-oriented will expect his employees to be as well. But a boss who has no time for details may actually appreciate an employee who does.

Learn the Boss’s Pet Peeves

If your manager has said repeatedly that she hates being interrupted first thing in the morning, don’t run to her office to give her a project update when you first get in.

Anticipate the Boss’s Needs

Once you have worked with your boss for a while, you should be able to guess what information he will want before approving your purchase order, for example.

If you provide it ahead of time, “that’s a gold star,” Farner adds.

Think One Level Up

You still need to do your own job, of course. But when managers consider who deserves a promotion, they look for people who understand the issues that their bosses face.

Open Yourself to New Ways of Doing Things

When your boss comes to you with a new idea, don’t simply dismiss it. If you don’t think it will work, offer to discuss it further in “a mature, responsible, adult-like way,” Beasley says.

Be Engaged in Your Work

Arguing with your boss over every request is not a good strategy, but neither is simply shrugging your shoulders and agreeing with everything your boss says. “The manager would like to see an engaged individual,” Beasley says. That means both showing enthusiasm for your work and speaking up when you see room for improvement.

An Unlikely Partnership: When HR and Marketing Join Forces

by Patricia Nazemetz and Will Ruch 

The HR discipline is evolving into a strategic voice because its sphere of influence — talent attraction, engagement and retention — is now recognized as the foundation to organizational success. But the pervasive influence of social media on the work world demands change in the way employers motivate and communicate with talent. We’ve seen success with a novel approach to talent engagement: an integrated HR-Marketing strategy that teams Marketing’s brand messaging savvy with HR’s internal perspective and expertise. When HR brings a communication orientation to its role, the entire company benefits. The partnership brings added value to Marketing as well. How much more effective could a CMO be if he or she knew for certain that talent would deliver on the brand promise made in every external marketing message?

We discovered the power of the HR-Marketing connection when Versant, the marketing firm that Will runs, and Xerox, where Patricia was CHRO, collaborated on several projects. Our first, in 2005, aimed to transform the way Xerox’s HR staff connected with its workforce and align Xerox employees with new business goals. Together, we developed a strategic communication plan to build HR staff engagement for this new HR orientation. Over the next two years, Xerox’s joint team worked closely with Versant to develop the creative messaging, and roll it out to the internal HR audience.

When Xerox re-branded itself as a document solutions leader, it partnered once again with Versant to communicate what this new brand would mean to Xerox employees. Through videos, employee events and facility branding, we built employees’ interest in and support for Xerox’s new brand promise to its customers. Employee engagement was integral to Xerox’s transformation and continued growth as a Fortune 500 company. After all, productivity and the strength of the company brand both live within Xerox’s workforce. Employees, at first skeptical, embraced their new work environment. And HR, as a full partner in this effort, made sure our messages were consistent and reinforcing – not conflicting.

Our HR-Marketing collaboration was not the first of its kind nor are we the only ones doing it, especially as employer branding gains importance. Another example dates from 2008, when Lincoln Financial Group — buffeted by the financial crisis — created an HR-Marketing partnership (working with Versant) to foster deeper engagement within its pool of 8,500 direct employees and 1,200 independent financial planners.

The collaboration began with research into the pulse of the workforce. We talked with more than 600 employees to understand their relationship to the company, to the brand, and to their work. Then we worked closely to define an employer brand rooted in the voice of Lincoln employees and connected to Lincoln leadership’s vision for the organization. The joint Marketing and HR team brought the brand to life in employee meetings, and through printed and digital communication channels. The CHRO, Lisa Buckingham, connected with the leaders of Diversity and Inclusion, Corporate Responsibility, and Recruitment in order to weave the employer brand into HR communications enterprise-wide. As a result, every HR program was aligned with the Lincoln employer brand, making them feel focused and consistent to Lincoln’s employees.

“It hasn’t always been the easiest journey,” says Buckingham. “But once we got everybody on the same page, everyone agreed how important employer brand is and how it actually touches so many facets of the organization. We recognized that there needs to be a consistency in what we’re saying and what our values are.” One measure of the program’s success: In the 2012 employee survey, 58% of Lincoln employees said they were “highly engaged” — a score well above the financial services benchmark of 35%.

5 Keys to Successful Sales Strategies

By Diane Helbig

Successful sales is a deliberate, thoughtful activity. You need a process that you initiate over and over again. Whenever I talk with small business owners or salespeople who aren’t realizing the results they desire, the cause is usually the same: They don’t have a sales strategy.

keys money

You can’t sell here and there. You can’t pick up the phone when you have a minute. Sales requires a strategy, a process, a way to proceed that you can measure and monitor. Sales is something you have to commit to on an ongoing basis. You can’t just try it for 30 days! It takes persistence, energy and focus.

Think of the sales process in terms of bike riding. When you ride a bike you have to gain momentum. When you first start to pedal, it takes extra energy to get the bike to move. Once you’ve been riding you develop a flow; you can even glide at times. As you ride you build up steam. And when you hit a hill it is easier to climb it because you already have that momentum going.

That’s what an effective sales process is like. Starting out takes extra energy. You have to put the plan in place and start the ride. Once you get that energy going, it becomes easier to maintain. You still have to pay attention to what you are doing, but sticking with it and realizing results becomes easier the more you pedal. However, if you start and stop, and start and stop, you’ll be exhausted … and have nothing to show for it.

There are 5 steps to a successful sales strategy:

1. Define your target market.Knowing this is critical to your sales success. You aren’t going to do business with everyone. And even if you were, you have to start somewhere. You have to have a place where you can focus in order to build up that momentum we talked about.

Once you have the market defined, create a list. This list should be large enough to give you the opportunity to really delve in and repeat the process a couple of times. If your target market is too small your odds of success decrease. You may have to merge two similar target markets in order to have the numbers working in your favor.

2. Determine your outreach. Will you cold call or network or both? I have a system that works really well for my clients. It goes like this:

Once you’ve defined your target and created the list, reach out to your networks to see if you are connected in any way to the person or organization you seek. This includes direct outreach – emailing or calling them – and exploring your LinkedIn contacts. Remember, you are looking for an introduction. That’s it! You want the opportunity to meet with the prospect. When your friend or associate introduces you to the prospect, follow up and set up the meeting.

Next, take the ones on the list you don’t have a connection to and cold call them. This could mean sending them an introductory letter or postcard, or picking up the phone and calling them. If you send an introductory letter or postcard, you must tell them that you will call to follow up – and then follow up! You can’t leave the action in their hands. The process is yours to conduct, not theirs.

3. Know your questions. Before you go on a sales appointment, create a list of questions to ask the prospect. This is the time for you to really get to know them, their needs, their business practices. It is not the time for you to talk endlessly about your product or service. If they look like a qualified prospect, provide them with a quote. If they don’t, walk away.

4. Deliver and build. Deliver on what you said you were going to do for the prospect. Then make sure you build the relationship. Don’t expect them to stay with you or use you for other needs if you aren’t taking the time to build the relationship with them. The sales process doesn’t end with the sale.

5. Monitor. This is one of the most critical aspects of a successful sales strategy. As you move forward with your plan you must keep track of how well it is working. On the first day of each month, take a look back at the previous month. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How did it go?
  • What worked?
  • What didn’t work?
  • Did I hit my numbers?

Knowing what works and what doesn’t gives you the opportunity to tweak your process. Adjust or get rid of what doesn’t work, and keep what does. If you hit your numbers, celebrate! Then prepare for the coming month. What’s the goal? What’s the plan?

If you didn’t hit your numbers, determine what might need to be changed and change it. Then add the missed amount to the coming month’s goal. You don’t want to give up on the overall goal by just letting the past month drop. You want to take the sales dollars you didn’t get and add them to your goal for the coming month. Now plan for how you are going to achieve that – and get going.

Repeat.

This is a process that will work over and over and over again. You’ll find that the momentum builds with each step, so it becomes easier to do. Moreover, you’ll realize results from this sort of structure. Implementing a sales strategy keeps you focused and succeeding. And it makes the whole sales process easier to do. So do yourself a favor and give it a whirl! I’m sure you’ll notice the difference.


Image from 3DProfi/Shutterstock

Succession Planning in Human Resources

By Franki Colbert, eHow

Succession Planning in Business

Succession planning helps organizations develop and select successors for critical positions. Organizations often select leadership positions to manage through a succession management plan. The responsibility of managing succession planning often falls on human resources with the executive team as the primary stakeholders.

Planning

The first step in succession planning involves creating a strategic plan. This plan will provide an outline of the steps necessary to implement succession planning throughout the organization. One planning activity, leadership bench strength, involves assessing a group of employees for a particular position to determine their strengths and weaknesses. This helps the organization identify gaps in knowledge or experience. During the planning phase, human resources also determine their goals for the plan. This will later help them measure the outcome.

Talent Assessment

Organizations take a talent assessment to identify high potential employees in the company. To measure, they use tools such as performance evaluations and multi-rater feedback. Organizations identify the skills needed for the key leadership roles and then evaluate a pre-determined talent pool against the required skills. They also rate employees on other aspects such key behaviors, advancement potential, time with the company and educational background. Some organizations utilize a nine-box chart during the talent assessment. The chart provides a graphical comparison of the employee’s potential and performance. Each attribute receives a rating within one of nine boxes on a low to high rating scale.

Talent Review

Organizations take a talent assessment to identify high potential employees in the company. To measure, they use tools such as performance evaluations and multi-rater feedback. Organizations identify the skills needed for the key leadership roles and then evaluate a pre-determined talent pool against the required skills. They also rate employees on other aspects such key behaviors, advancement potential, time with the company and educational background. Some organizations utilize a nine-box chart during the talent assessment. The chart provides a graphical comparison of the employee’s potential and performance. Each attribute receives a rating within one of nine boxes on a low to high rating scale.

Development Planning

Once an organization has determined any gaps within the talent pool, the next step involves creating development plans. These plans contain a list of skills and goals an employee needs to develop for consideration of a key role. The development plan can include leadership skills and additional training courses the employee needs to take. Human resources administer the plan and monitor the employee’s progress against the plan. Employees can receive development plans throughout the year or once. The timeline depends on the company’s succession plan strategy.

Measurement

Once the company has implemented a succession plan, they measure the results of the plan. Measuring the plan helps them determine whether they achieved their desired results. Human resources align the originally set goals with key metrics such as the “time to fill” for open positions. Once they complete gathering and analyzing the succession data, human resources communicate the results to the executive team and managers involved in the process.

 

Franki Colbert has been writing professionally since 2002, focusing primarily on career development and human-resources technology issues. Her work regularly appears on Break and other websites. Colbert is a certified product manager and product-marketing manager. She also holds a certificate in project management from New York University and a Bachelor of Arts in business administration.

Why Strategic Staffing Plans are Important

By David Ingram, eHow

Strategic staffing plans business successStrategic staffing plans are forward-looking strategies used to build and maintain loyal, high-performance teams. Strategic staffing plans differ from traditional staffing activities, which are mainly focused on filling empty seats with new employees, in that they consider the true lifetime value of each employee to their organizations, while developing methods of increasing the value of each employee over time. Understanding the importance of strategic staffing can motivate your human resources team to take their departmental strategies to the next level.

Competitive Advantage

Companies can gain powerful competitive advantages by employing strategic staffing plans. Using tact in hiring decisions and employee development can steadily increase employee productivity and efficiency by boosting their competence and confidence. Seeking out innovative and creative employees, and giving them the tools and training to grow, can keep your organization on the forefront of developments in your industry.

Executive Development

A strong argument can be made for promoting from within to fill top leadership positions. Companies with a policy of filling executive positions with insiders can benefit from developing a clear strategy for identifying and grooming potential leaders over the years. Investing in developing high-performers can ensure that your company’s fundamental mission and vision remains intact after an executive transition, while making it easier for employees to identify with new leaders and get on board with their strategic initiatives.

Legal Considerations

Strategic staffing plans also ensure that companies fully comply with laws on employee relations, especially issues of equal employment opportunity. Developing a plan to build a workforce that mirrors the cultural makeup of your surrounding community, as well as ensuring that minority groups are sufficiently represented in top leadership positions, can save large amounts of hassle and money from potential litigation. Going beyond the letter of the law in equal employment opportunity issues can help your company to develop a reputation as a fair employer with ethical business practices, which can increase demand for your brands in the marketplace.

Cost Efficiency

Strategic staffing can also include geographically separating different departments to take advantage of opportunities offered in foreign markets or distant domestic locations. Lean companies often locate entire departments, such as manufacturing or customer support, in foreign countries to leverage their unique skill-sets and cost efficiencies. These strategies must be candled with care, however, since laying off domestic employees to relocate departments can have a negative impact on the company’s domestic reputation.

David Ingram has written for multiple publications since 2009, including “The Houston Chronicle” and online at Business.com. As a small-business owner, Ingram regularly confronts modern issues in management, marketing, finance and business law. He has earned a Bachelor of Arts in management from Walsh University.

Closing the Credibility Chasm between Sales and Human Resources

By John Kenney, Sales Benchmark Index

“For me, Sales has been a challenging group. Among all organizations I support, Sales is the most resistant. Sales leaders do not want interference from HR. They bring HR late in the game. HR is used for tactical, not strategic support. It is hard to influence things. I have seen this with many sales leaders. This is not just an isolated case.”                                             – Senior VP of Human Resources

During a wide-ranging set of interviews SBI conducted with HR leaders in 2012, this concern was raised over 60% of the time.

Some HR leaders have earned a seat at the Sales leadership table. Others are still trying to figure out how to cross over. If you want to improve the relationship between the VP of Sales and the VP of Human Resources, SBI has an answer. Sign up for our Make the Number Tour if you would like a copy of ourSales Leadership Immersion Program (SLIP, for short).

Sales is the Achilles Heel for HR

The average tenure of a VP of Sales is only 19 months. They require immediate results. BAchilles heel of Human Resourcesecause HR leaders tend to work on longer time horizons, this can create a source of friction between the two leaders and their departments. In addition, some HR executives lack in-depth experience with the Sales function. This is an obstacle that further prevents them from delivering value to the sales leader. What is the risk to HR leaders when they are not well-connected with the sales leadership team? Here is a real life story:

Uninformed and Inadequate

One afternoon, Harry, the VP of HR got an urgent call from Victor, the VP of Sales. In just 5 weeks, three promising new hires had been recruited away from Victor by the competition. These reps had only attained 65% to 85% of their sales quota, so they were not yet earning accelerated commissions for 100%+ achievement. They were not the high performers that the compensation package was designed to attract and reward.  Their salary was too low so they were vulnerable when the competition swooped in with an offer of higher base pay.

No one noticed until it was too late.  Even though Harry was involved with Victor’s team on recruiting andperformance evaluations for the new hires, he was in the dark about their compensation risk. Suddenly the investment in human capital vaporized and the competition was fortified with freshly trained sales reps.

What role did Harry play in this disastrous retention problem? Sadly, not much. He was very involved in thesales compensation planning, but only on an annual basis. The lack of visibility to day-to-day Sales operations left Harry unaware until after the exodus began. By then it was too late to develop a specific compensation plan to retain emerging sales talent.

Victor had no one from HR on his team to safeguard his unique human capital.  There was no one who could anticipate and preempt a competitive raid. The 3 reps were not expected to contribute much in 2012, but recovering from this catastrophe will negatively impact 2013 results. The opportunity cost has already amounted to several million dollars.

Invite Yourself

What could Harry have done differently?

When we interviewed Janet Carson-Flamini, VP of HR at Activision Blizzard, she offered this insight:

“When I started working with Global Sales as the VP of HR, I had to sometimes invite myself to be included in things like sales tracking and customer overview meetings.  At first people may wonder ‘what is HR doing here?’ but over time these are opportunities to understand and connect to the business. You know you’re part of things when people expect to see your participation and contribution.”

For an HR leader who has never carried a quota or closed a sale, it can be an uphill battle to get credibility with the sales leadership team. But Janet proves it is possible. She was persistent and confident that she could add value once she learned that part of the business. Her direct approach inspired SBI to develop the Sales Leadership Immersion Program for executives who want to learn how to be a sales leader. SLIP offers five powerful ideas to cross the credibility chasm, and it is available as part of SBI’s Make the Number Tour event.

How to get Close to Sales: Fill in your Void

Once an HR leader has credibility, what’s next? First, learn more about Sales. Subscribe to blogs and read books about selling. Ask your sales leadership team what sales-specific resources they recommend. Then demonstrate some interest. Next, learn more about HR from a Sales perspective. How are your peers contributing to the success of their sales organizations? How have they broken down traditional barriers? Blogs and conferences are great resources.  Interview some sales managers. Finally, look for ways your team can remove burden from the sales leadership. For instance, your HR team might conduct phone screens of sales rep candidates to assess them for basic sales expertise rather than just forwarding on piles of resumes to time-starved sales managers who then have to sort it all out.

Takeaways:

  • Sales leaders need help from Human Resources
  • HR can make a wide-ranging impact on Sales
  • HR leaders need to obtain core knowledge of Sales
  • Look for ways to remove burden from the sales team

Sales and HR Leaders

It is actually easy for HR to overcome the barrier to entry to helping Sales. Make meaningful contributions to the sales leadership roundtable conversations.  Becoming a strategic partner is the way to do it. Don’t let this opportunity slip by.

If you are a Human Resources leader and you have some more ideas on this topic, please submit them in the comments section below.  Your peers would like to hear more. If you are a Sales leader, consider sharing this post with your HR leader.

 

The Key Ingredients Of A Successful Salesperson – Plan, Approach And Mind-set

By Tom Costello, iGroupAdvisors

Key Ingredients of a Successful SalespersonAs a salesperson, your goals are to become as personally and professionally successful as possible.

Successful salespeople have a true commitment to their company, products or services but more importantly, have an unwavering commitment first to their customersand then to themselves.

Here are some ideas that I want to share, and when put into practice, will help you to become a more successful salesperson.

Plan your day the night before -It is safe to assume that if you don’t plan your day the night before, then when you arrive at your office you’ll be more apt to spend “much of your time reacting instead of acting”, according to motivational author Jack Canfield.  You might be able to sleep better at night knowing that you have a plan in place and ready to go before you hit your desk.  More importantly, it will be much easier for you to avoid distractions that will keep you away from achieving your goals.

What to do with your day after you’ve planned it – Seems like an easy answer but can you effectively manage your day if you can’t manage your time?  Time management is essential.  In the world of business, no matter how successful one becomes, time is one thing that there is not enough of.  All of the successful salespeople that I’ve worked with practiced disciplined time management and they spent the majority of their time on tasks that made them money and little time on things that were a waste of time.

Research and read every day – The importance of reading and researching your market every day cannot be overstated.  I read the online version of my local newspaper, along with a handful of national new services, and I pay particular attention to each Business section. There are opportunities that present themselves in companies who both rise and fall and when you read between the lines, your product or service might provide a solution that’s at the right time and place.

Do your homework before you pick up the phone – Like reading daily, it is equally important to research the company and individual who you are about to speak with.  Thanks to Google, you can find out as much about a company, their products, services and the prospect you are about to speak with as you want and you just might uncover a clue or two that will help you to break the ice before moving to your sales pitch.

Conscious repetition – Do you use the same old cookie cutter opening statement every time you contact a prospect or do you mix and match your delivery to fit who you are calling? The oil and gas company your about to call has a much different corporate culture than does the medical instrument manufacturer who is next up in your call rotation.  Each prospective customer is a different animal so you need to tailor your message that speaks to their needs and not yours.

Are you in a “helping” or “selling” mode? – Most salespeople have adopted the principles of ‘sell’ and ‘close’ because that’s the way they’ve been trained.  When you approach a prospect over the phone or in person with this mind-set, there is a high probability that he will be able to sense your intentions. When he does, it won’t make any difference what you are selling and at what price point, you’ll be out the door as quickly as you came in.  Think of changing your thought process to “how can I help this guy” and see what a difference it makes in your close ratio.

Don’t look and sound like your competitors  Before you meet face-to-face with a prospective customer, you’ve uncovered some ‘buying signals’ that suggest your prospect is interested in learning more about your products and services.  Let’s assume that there will be other competitors that will be invited to the table vying for the same piece of business.  If all of you are pitching the same value propositions such as “We’re the biggest and best”, “We’ve been in business for 20 years”, “We’re the leaders in our space”, then your prospect has no other alternative than to choose one of you based upon price.  Avoid this situation at all costs!

Build relationships across the customer organization  If you want to get a leg up on your competition and close more sales you must develop a business relationship with both the decision-maker as well as others who the decision-maker is directly or indirectly connected with. Successful salespeople never are satisfied with just one point-of-contact within an organization and are continually look for ways to build relationships and credibility with other members of the network.

Endeavor to develop your business and personal skills  When was the last time you ran into Joe the sales ‘expert’? Joe has tons of experience and knows his product inside and out. In spite of this, many of the Joe’s of this world consistently underperform because they do nothing to expand their skill set or learn anything new. When was the last time you ran into a Joe who is now working for another company?  Joe “left” that company because he was passed over by a more successful salesperson who consistently sharpened his axe (business and personal skill set).

Following up with customers – Hotel salespeople are great at staying in touch during the sales process but virtually never ‘check in’ with a you after the sale is closed.  They’ll be happy to include you in an email blast (this is called a shot gun approach or ‘trolling for leads’) but can’t quite find the time to pick up the phone and ask you how your event went. Successful salespeople understand that the customer/salesperson relationship doesn’t end with the closing of the sale. Following up with customers will ensure a higher level of satisfaction, generate repeat business, and foster relationships that may turn into referrals.

Make one more sales call before you turn out the lights – We all have good call days and bad call days.  When you’ve heard your fill of “No thanks” then make it a point to make at least one more call or keep calling until you get a “Yes” before you call it a night.  It will do wonders for your psyche and may move you that much closer to making your quota.

Tom Costello is the CEO and Managing Director of iGroupAdvisors, a performance improvement consulting firm that specializes in the hospitality and travel verticals.