Is it Day One for Your Team?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Are most of your employees still working in remote locations? If so, it may no longer feel like day one for your team. That early burst of productivity and enthusiasm may now be a distant memory as your sales reps deal with a personal and professional life that resembles Bill Murray’s movie Groundhog Day.

Same Old, Same Old

The lack of change is one cause of the increased feelings of burnout. You, and many of your team members, may have assumed that you could continue to operate as usual back in March. Because the pandemic-​related changes were viewed as temporary, teams embraced their short-​term situation. They rose to the challenges of working in a remote location and dealing with a slower than usual sales cycle.

Changing Your Mindset

Sales managers can’t afford to buy into this mindset. You must find a way to keep your team members engaged over the long term. In a Wall Street Journal article on leadership, Simon Sinek, an executive coach and the author of “The Infinite Game” and “Leaders Eat Last,” remarks that, “The thing to do is not pretend that the old system just forced into the new system is going to work.”

Is It Day One For Your Team?

In fact, sales managers should consider acting like they are in day one at their organization. Day one refers to the startup time in an organization. At that point, roles are not clearly defined, leaders encourage team members to take action that will result in sales, and everyone works together to help the company succeed.

What is the day one philosophy? Jeff Bezos, CEO at Amazon, articulated the concept as follows: "the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world."

In any organization with a day one mindset, team members have the power to make big decisions. We’re in a business environment that’s changing constantly. New competitors are entering your market space every day. If your team members are locked into an old system of acting and reacting, because that’s the way it was always done at the office, they could be falling further behind. Instead of worrying about results, which is vitally important, they are following process. When sales teams pay more attention to process, they slow down, and the company loses its edge in the marketplace. Many of your sales reps feel comfortable following the process because they understand how it works.

You will have to energize your reps and encourage them to act independently. We can all imagine that constant video meetings will take the place of the efficiency we once relied on during our in-​person office days. But your team members can no longer chat with each other informally in the break room. When they are on a video call, the exchanges tend to be ‘transactional’ instead of creative.

Few of us are facing the battlefield conditions encountered by Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal. But we can learn from his experiences, especially when he encourages his direct report to find a better solution when the initial battlefield strategy doesn’t go as planned. Yes, our team members like to know what the boundaries are. They want rules to follow. When a situation doesn’t play out the way they’ve practiced, they must turn to their curious and creative side.

Give them the freedom to work toward a specific outcome, instead of following a process. And you may see the kind of engagement you need as the pandemic drags on.