Managing Disruptive Employees

In an ideal world all your employees would be motivated, productive and fit in really well within your company culture. However, in the real world, one of the most challenging situations a manager can face in their career is how to deal with a difficult and disruptive employee within their business.

Evaluate the Working Environment
When trying to improve an employee’s overall attitude, assess the working environment of the department they are working in.
How do the other employees work within the department / company?
Do all your employees collaborate and work together as a team?

If the answer to this is no, then you may need to look at how you can improve the department culture.

If the answer is yes, then we suggest you may take a look at the options below to help you manage this difficult employee better.

Act fast and don’t ignore the situation
If you do have a difficult employee, you need to be aware of it and deal with it fast.
If you ignore the situation this can disrupt other employees and reduce office morale and in return have a negative impact in productivity throughout your company.
The longer you take to resolve the issue with this employee, the less likely the problem will disappear and the more likely you will have a more serious situation to deal with.

View the situation from your employee’s perspective
Ask your employee for their input into the why there is a problem, what they think is the cause and what they believe needs to happen to resolve the situation.
Try to view the situation from your employee’s perspective and understand their thought process as this will provide you with an insight to why they are behaving in this way and prevent them from becoming defensive towards your resolution process.
You must adopt a diplomatic attitude with this employee and always remain neutral and calm to the situation, if you lose your temper you will only be adding fuel to the fire and will do more harm than good.

It’s not just what you say but how you say it
You want to be assertive and at the same time supportive to your employee, you never want to come across as threatening.
Make sure you make eye contact with your employee to demonstrate that you are listening to what they have to say.
Be aware of your tone of voice as you need to show that you are in control of the situation and that you do want to rectify it.
Be aware of what your body language is suggesting to your employee?

Find a resolution
You need to determine what their issue is with their role and work together to improve it. Work with your employee to improve your relationship and their work ethos.
What is the underlying problem?
Are you pushing them enough?
Is their role too stressful?
Are they under too much pressure?
Is time management an issue?
Do they have too much responsibility?

Finding the answers to these questions will enable you to create a plan that will improve their behaviour, and ensure that they are getting the most out of their role?

It is extremely important that you evaluate your employee’s worth in your company and work together to be able to move forward.

Written Records
Keep written note of your discussions so they can be referred to again, should the employee continue to be difficult.
This way you will have written confirmation of what was discussed and the steps you have taken to improve your employee’s behaviour.
This will also be beneficial should you feel the need to terminate your employee at a later date because their progress or attitude didn’t improve.
Having proof of your employee’s unacceptable behaviour will prevent an unfair dismissal tribunal or any similar issues with their termination.

Clearly it is in everyone’s interest to resolve the situation and move forward in a positive manner, however if this is not possible, it is very important that you can demonstrate that you did take reasonable steps along the way to properly deal with and turnaround the disruptive employee.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information about our Sales Consultancy Practice, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

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Posted in Staff Management

Importance of Exit Interviews

When people leave your company the feelings about this can range from “we don’t care” to “how are we going to manage?”  It is imperative to truly understand why any member of staff is leaving, because in fact a properly conducted Exit Interview can give you valuable information that will help you strengthen your business.
Just asking a candidate why they are leaving will normally elicit a polite response of “better opportunity elsewhere” or “more money”, but often the “real” underlying reason for the decision to leave will not be uncovered unless you undertake a formal exit interview in a neutral setting. Typically the candidate does not want to rock any boats as they are looking for a good reference.
When recruiting for our clients we hear the real reasons that people are looking for a new employer, such as:-
• Company did not pay sales commission due on sales.
• My manager is a bully.
• The technical team don’t respond to tenders quickly enough so I am losing sales and its affecting my ability to meet my target.
• The Health and Safety guidelines are not being followed properly and I am not comfortable with this.
• I have been asked to cover accounting mistakes my boss made and I am not happy to sign off the year end accounts.
• There is no opportunity for me to progress my career in this company.

These are just some of the reasons we hear, surprisingly when people leave it is rarely about money, often they have made friends in the business and it is hard to leave familiar surroundings and to step into the unknown to a new role.
So how does an Exit Interview help your company?
The exit interview will show trends, for example if you have 3 people who all say they are leaving because one of the Managers is a bully, perhaps you need to look at that Manager and review his/her behaviour. If good sales people keep leaving because commission is not being paid, how much is that really costing your company in lost sales revenue – because if it takes 4 months to have a new sales person in position and up and running, if the sales target is £50,000 per month, you have just lost £200,000 pounds in sales revenue.
In our recruitment agency, we see that the Exit Interview allows you to take actions that will prevent other employee’s leaving for the same reason, and potentially save you significant sums of money and / or reduce your companies exposure to future risk.

How do you carry out an Exit Interview?
1) Typically an HR Manager will carry out this interview without your line manager.
2) You let the leaving employee know that their comments will be kept in confidence.
3) Any comments will not count against them with regards to a satisfactory reference.
4) Start with what they liked about the company.
5) What they would alter to have made their role better for them.
6) Why they really want to leave.
7) Thank the candidate for taking the time to have the exit interview with you and wish them luck in their new role.

Note: This process can often give you the information you need to persuade a highly valued employee to stay in the business.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information about our Sales Consultancy Practice, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

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Key Characteristics of Successful Sales People

Our Consultancy additionally help to recruit high calibre sales professionals for our clients. We are often asked to find sales people who are “guaranteed to be successful”.  So the question we are often asked is what are the “key characteristics” of Top Successful Sales People?

Given sales is the lifeblood of all profit making companies it is critical to appoint the right sales person for your business, so below are some of the main aspects to consider when recruiting  a new sales person for your company.

Excellent Questioning Skills
Most successful sales people will have an inquisitive nature and therefore do not make assumptions.  They are naturally and genuinely interested in finding out about a client and their business and uncovering their requirements.  They will always ask searching questions and lead their customers through an organised thought process which in turn leads to a greater understanding and recognition of the customer’s situation.

Listening & Understanding
Most people make the wrong assumption that good sales people are talkers but this is not true, successful sales people listen harder than most and keep qualifying their understanding of the client’s requirements and they make sure that they give a customer plenty of time to completely outline what they want.  They will always put checks in place to make sure they have uncovered the client’s needs and qualified their understanding before selling back as they understand, if they sell back too early they risk alienating their client who will think they are not listening and rushing to a conclusion. There is an old saying in sales “you have two ears and only one mouth so use them in that same ratio”.

Successful sales people are excellent at multi-tasking, in a sales situation, sales people are often not only listening and understanding what the client is telling them but are thinking two to three steps ahead, mirroring and empathising with the client while also working out the other motivators that the client may have but is not disclosing or may not recognise.  This is all done simultaneously and at pace.

Work Ethic
Successful sales people know the true value of preparation before speaking to potentially new or existing clients, they realise there are no short cuts in getting around prospecting and investigating all potential selling opportunities in their designated territory and understand that they cannot live off leads passed to them alone and they need to have an in-built work ethic to ensure that their pipeline does not dry up.  They will also work hard to ensure that their knowledge is “up to date” on their market’s products/services and their competition and are fully aware of all other issues that can impact their clients.

Maintaining and communicating passion and enthusiasm is difficult. Successful salespeople understand that they cannot afford to sound “jaded” or “dejected” even if they are going through a particularly difficult sales period and have the ability to manage their own confidence and self-belief, irrespective of how difficult the market may be at that particular moment.

Ethical & Honest
Successful sales people are ethical and honest, they take responsibility for their own sales results and they realise that a customer’s perception of their products/services is reflected by them.  Most companies/people want to buy from experts that they can trust and that trust has to be earned by the sales person.  If a sales person has stayed in their role for over 5 years and consistently performed the chances are they are ethical, honest and have an excellent awareness of their own personal brand.

Successful sales people tend to be and have to be braver than most others in business.  It is sales people that have to pioneer and breakdown barriers as they build new client relationships and develop existing ones.  They put their “personal brand” on the line every day, persuading their potential and current clients to trust them and the company they work for to deliver.  Successful salespeople realise they have to be courageous, as they are in a role where their success or failure will be defined by the revenue they achieve against target and that this is beyond dispute and that the sales they make are the lifeblood for the company they work for.

One of the best ways to assess a sales person “in action” is to ask them to do a role play in the interview process.  Create a scenario where your hiring manager is the Potential Customer and the Candidate is the salesperson conducting a first meeting.  This will enable you to see how they come across in a “sales situation” and find out if they are asking the right questions to uncover “customer needs”.  This combined with ensuring you have “proof” of a proven track record should enable you to make a good hiring decision.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information about our Sales Consultancy Practice, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

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Benefits of Productivity Improvement Plans

Our client Productivity Improvement Plan (PIP) for Sales People is designed to help Sales Managers improve the performance of individual sales professionals who are not performing to their full potential.
It is much more cost effective to “turn around” a sales person who had dipped in performance, than it is to replace them, as it minimises disruption to the business, to your customers and saves you money on the training and recruitment costs for a new hire.
There are 10 Steps involved in the productivity improvement plan, but the key is to get buy in from the sales person themselves and set clear and achievable objectives designed to bring the sales person back on track within a defined period of time.

Below is an outline of The 10 steps covered by the PIP, the factsheet that will be sent to you goes into each step in detail:-

Outline of the 10 Step PIP Process
Identify performance issues
Check for external reasons for poor performance
Work out a 6-8 week plan with the sales person
Gain commitment to plan from the sales person
Set weekly and daily performance goals
Set weekly up-date meetings to monitor progress
Ensure the sales person feels valued and praise positive outcome
Review trends
If performance not improving decide on appropriate action
If performance improving implement steps to ensure continuation

Our founder has over 20 years’ experience in sales (outside the recruitment agency sector) currently operating at Director level, she has won numerous sales awards and worked for organisations such as IBM, Siemens and GKN selling both equipment and services. Experienced in salesforce management, this productivity improvement plan has proved to be a very successful tool when used to turn around sales people who have taken a dip in performance.

To obtain a free copy of our Productivity Improvement Plan for Sales Professionals please contact Sheila Carswell-Craig on 0844 2577 888.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information about our Sales Consultancy Practice, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

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Posted in Staff Management

Client Interview Scorecards

Our Client Interview Scorecards help to ensure our clients make the right hiring decision.

One of the biggest disappointments a hiring manager can face is when a candidate he or she employs does not work out well inside the business. There can be numerous reasons for this, however sometimes it can be traced back to the interview process itself.

As professional recruitment consultants, we are often surprised at the lack of structure some clients have when interviewing, it is basically a chat to get the feel of the candidate and a run through the candidates CV, and if the candidate “clicks” with the hiring manager that will often be a deciding factor in engaging a person.

However our recruitment agency believes in using Interview Scorecards to help our hiring managers ensure that they are truly matching the candidate with the core skills and attributes that the client requires. So each interview scorecard is personal to each role and to the fundamental elements of the job.

This means that each desired skill or attribute is marked and given a score e.g. you may want a sales person to be able to demonstrate how competently they would handle a price objection – if it is important you, you may give this 20 points and if the candidate answered well you may allocate 18 points.

ATR have a template Interview Scorecard that you can tailor for your business, it gives ideas on what to put into your own Scorecard, however the real benefit is that when you have completed your interviews you can score all the candidates you met, and evaluate them on their attributes and your desired skill sets to ensure you pick the best person for your role.

This process gives you a more scientific basis for making your hiring decision and it also helps weed out the people who may come across well but in fact don’t have the in-depth qualities you really seek. This can be a real aid to ensuring you hire people who are more likely to succeed in your business.

If you would like a free copy of our Client Interview Scorecard please contact us on 0844 2577 888.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information about our Sales Consultancy Practice, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

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Create a Great Company Culture

When candidates are deciding whether to accept a job offer, often the deciding factor can come down to your company culture.  Bottom line: Is your company a place where your employees really want to be, and are they motivated to do their best?

Ask yourself the following questions:-
Is morale high in your company?
Do your employee’s socialise with one another?
Is communication between individuals and departments good?
Do you interact with your colleagues?
Would you say you have a good management style?
Do you offer flexible working to employees?
Do your staff ever go for drinks after work together?
Does the company ever have staff outings or Christmas Parties?
Is there profit related pay?
Do you have a nice working environment?

Happy employee’s make the best employee’s, if people feel supported, that their career aspirations are being met, and that they play an important part within your organisation and are valued, they will want to come to work every day. There is no better way to have productive staff.  The culture in a company radiates around the business and candidates can tell if a culture is positive even if they are just coming in for an interview, and certainly by speaking to the people in the business.  The better the company culture is, the more high calibre candidates you will attract and the higher your staff retention will be.

So how do you create a positive company culture?
In our recruitment agency we speak to disgruntled candidates all the time, and often one of their key reasons for leaving is that they “don’t like the Culture” within their company.  So how do you go about creating a good company culture:-
Find out what your staff think – Send round an anonymous questionnaire where your employees can give you honest feedback about what it’s like to work for you and your company. This will help you identify any changes you need or should make and how to improve upon your company culture. Consider and implement the following 6 idea’s if you don’t do these already:-
Communicate – Give your employee’s a forum where they can be heard! You should give your employees the opportunity to voice their ideas and give opinions on key decisions that affect them!
Collaborate – Make sure your company mission and values are shared with your employees.
Environment – Work with your staff to make a pleasant and supportive working environment.
Appraisals – Ensure your staff have clear objectives in their roles and provide annual appraisals to monitor their performance.
Career Development – Create a personal development plan for each member of staff that will ensure they can step up to the next level in their career.
Profit Share – This really makes every employee feel they have a vested interest in the company and is worth serious consideration.

What it’s like to work for your company is defined by your employees’ opinion on your company culture. Company culture is one of the most important things when candidates are considering a job offer, so you need to make sure the culture at your company is on par with others in your industry and sector.  A positive Company Culture will help you not only attract but retain high calibre employees and ultimately help your company ensure their business goals are met.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information about our Sales Consultancy Practice, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

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When is an Employee ready for Management?

In our Consultancy Practice we meet many people whose move into management was not a pleasant experience. In fact often it can be a career disaster for the candidate concerned and a potential nightmare for the company. We have all heard of successful employees who struggled in management roles, and are left wondering where it all went wrong.

How can you tell when an employee is ready for Management?
First, let’s look at the background to the proposed promotion; often, employees moving into a management position do not fully understand the basics of what this type of role involves and may just be attracted to a pay raise or a more impressive job title. In effect, they may have no idea what they’re getting themselves into when they accept a promotion into management. Even worse, many do not receive effective training, coaching, or mentoring when they make this important career change.

2 questions to ask yourself before you offer a promotion
What benefits do we believe this person will bring to us as a Manager?
How can we support this person as they move into a management role?

If you are comfortable that this employee can really add value in a management role, and that you do have the ability and manpower to ensure a supported move into management for this individual, then approach them about the management role. Don’t actually offer the them the position at this stage, just tell them that you want to know if they would consider having a discussion with you about the possibility of a management role.

Once you have outlined the position in detail to the employee, ensuring they understand the responsibilities and the objectives of the role, including how they are measured and how their team would be measured, you must ask them the 5 set questions below.

5 questions to ask the employee before you offer them promotion
Why would they be interested in the Management role?
What leadership skills have they developed in other aspects of their life (university, clubs etc.)?
Do they have the time to commit to the Management role,
Will this fit in with their family commitments?
What additional benefits do they feel they can bring to the business as a Manager that they cannot bring in their current role?

Really listen to the answers to the questions, analyse their responses, so you can determine whether or not the employee is really ready for the career change. Some professionals get carried away by the idea of an increase in salary or an impressive new job title, and may accept the promotion even though they are not fully aware of the responsibility involved in the position. Some candidates may feel that right now they don’t have the training they need for a management role, and in fact, will realise that they will require assistance throughout their transition.

You’re responsibility as employer
The first step is realising whether or not the person is indeed ready for such a position, and to ensure your company has the time and resources to help them make a smooth transition into the role. You also need to be prepared to accept that the person may not in fact be ready for such a role and that in fact you would need to ensure the right resources and perhaps training programme needs to be undertaken by this person before such a move is considered.

It is much better for the employee and for your business to ensure the time is right for them and if it is then go ahead and offer the role, if it is not, it is much better to organise a training and development program for the employee so that in the future they will be able to take up this exciting challenge.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information about our Sales Consultancy Practice, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

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