Episode highlights:

01:33 –   Engagement Journey
03:59 –   The Orange Revolution (Five Key Areas to Drive Engagement and High Performance)
08:08 –   Performance Implications of Structured Approach
11:45 –   Three learning organization partners
13:26 –   Learnings from Gallup’s Q12 Employee Engagement Survey
16:49 –   Managing sales people
20:45 –   Monetary Incentive Approach
22:49 –   Non financial motivating factors
25:10 –   Early warning signs of disengagement

Welcome to the ZNM podcast.  Today we’re talking to Dean Hannon from DRIVE ENGAGEMENT in Toronto Ontario.  Dean’s company provides and early warning system to help corporations stabilize revenue flow and growth by keeping their sales force engaged.  While corporations depend on a talented sales team their motivations are often a mystery, even for the most dedicated sales manager. In todays episode Dean is showing how the latest data is being used to develop predictable roadmaps to engaging your sales force.  This is the ZNM podcast.

Tell me about your background…
Grew up in the Hospitality industry and have always been involved in sales, marketing, and customer service for over 20 years.Almost 10 years ago, took a promotion managing salesperson in Canada and the Carribean.  This really started my engagement journey. 
This job presented specific challenges given the International and multicultural nature of the business.

  • 9 people, 4 counties serving 17 others, 6 languages.  
  • Had to throw out “What I thought I knew and looked for a better way to manage people using proven research as I had done previously for sales strategy.
  • I learned quickly while culturally we can act in very different ways and express ourselves very differently, all members of high-performance teams look for the same consistent behaviors and actions from their manager.  I was not expecting that.

It sounds like you had to resist leaning on your instincts to bridge the cultural divide?
Shortly after I was promoted to manage this group, I was looking for some help on  managing a very diverse team. Stumbled onto a booked by Gostick and Elton called The Orange Revolution at O Hare Airport

The first 20 pages touched on team engagement and how to create a breakthrough team no matter where they are or how they were structured. It got my attention as it was exactly what I was looking for. It boiled down how to DRIVE Engagement and High Performance.

Five  key areas of focus

  • Goal Setting
  • Trust 
  • Accountability
  • Communication
  • Recognition

It changed the way I managed my teams from that day until today. Moved the needle from managing by feel to a more structured but still authentic approach to leadership. Now I partner and deliver programs from CultureWorks which is owned by Gostick and Elton.  

What were the results of embracing that approach?
My management style became more reliable and consistent (almost a scientific approach) versus a style based on feel where it had been before. Stylistically it remained true to me but it became more productive as we were focused on “What really mattered”. We regularly addressed:

  • Communication – how we communicate and its effectiveness
  • Accountability – how we hold ourselves, the organization and our customers accountable
  • Recognition – how are we recognizing each other for a job well done
  • Trust – how we build trust within the team

The team resonated with it and appreciated the approach because it was as much about them as the results. Given the success I have since led this process successfully with 3 different sales teams and have had similar results
A CEO listening would probably want to know what the performance implications were:
Within one year:

  • 20% Revenue Growth
  • 8% lift in margin
  • 100% retention of staff (previously had been 100% turnover in the Canadian division).  Not unheard of sales teams who are not engaging their teams 6 of 9 of the team members are still with the company to this day – 9 years later
  • TEAM – We achieved a 70% engagement rate.  A testament to both the team and the company who gave me the freedom to do what was needed at that time
  • PERSONAL – Should be noted that given the team buy in, I moved from engaged to Highly Engaged as well.  A win win for everyone 
  • Changed my life and reignited a passion in me for leadership and I learned the power of engagement.

You are now taking that principle into your consulting practice.  Can you speak a little more about that?
Continuing on the same principle when I decided to help others, I didn’t want to simply use my success as I knew it many not work for
everyone. I did some intensive research and landed on three learning organizations that I wanted to partner with

  • Gallup – They are universally recognized as the leader in engagement research and data.  I became a certified Gallup Strengths Coach and use their proven Q12 Employee Engagement Survey to help companies get a sense of where they are today.
  • The CultureWorks – As mentioned, Gostick and Elton are responsible for setting me on the course I have chosen and I am certified to deliver their All IN Culture Training and their very exciting Motivators Assessment which really tests what “gets people out of bed in the morning from a motivation standpoint.
  • Myers Briggs (MBTI) – I am also certified to deliver Myers Briggs Personality Assessments to understand who people are and why they act as they do

Using research and data around personality, strengths and motivation, leaders get a clear picture of their teams to manage them in a whole new way and ultimately drive world class results.  It really is game-changing when executed.

What have you gleaned from the Gallup data that allows a manager to engage with a team of salespeople?
Gallup has researched key findings that continually focus my practice and keep me motivated to help others:

  • The quality of managers and team leaders is the single biggest factor in an organization’s success
  • 70% of the variance in employee engagement is determined solely by the manager.
  • Only 21% of employees agree that they are managed in a way that motivated them to do outstanding work

I remind leaders to remain confident while humble when keeping the following research in mind:

  • At any one time, between 15% and 30% of a team is engaged and delivering maximum results.
  • 50% – 70% of employees are actively looking for new work or watching for openings
  • Only 22% percent feel that their leadership have a clear direction for their organization
  • Only 20% with a clear understanding of an organization’s goals 

All of these stats are internal and are under the direct control of managers.  They can be course corrected when an organization delivers an effective strategy for maximizing their people’s potential.

In a nutshell, most companies need to continue to improve their awareness of their people and their needs through an engagement strategies that delivers results.  The best way to do this is to measure engagement, gain real awareness of your people and have your managers work closely to deliver TRUE ENGAGEMENT within your organization.

What are some unique things to remember when managing sales people?

  • They ride an emotional roller coaster.  They have emotional swings that can be challenging to manage.  Wins & Losses, Peaks and Valleys, sometimes simultaneously.
  • They start their month or period at $0 which is unique within a company structure
  • They have little carry over goodwill – What have you done for me lately?
  • You have to manage the highs and lows with an even-keel approach.  Not too high on the high and not too low on the low. It can be tricky and a balancing act.  We are dealing with human beings with real feelings and emotions that must be managed.

Leaders normally look at monetary incentives to engage salespeople, is this the best approach?

This is a traditional approach for sure but makes two dangerous assumptions:

  • All salespeople are motivated financially and 
  • They are exempt from all other engagement activities that we would focus on with non-sales employees

Let’s keep a few things in mind:

  • Monetary and other incentives are important for anyone, they are just more visible for your sales team.  This is a deeply personal issue for all employees.
  • Gallup gives us data that illustrates  that ALL employees define engagement by:
    1. Role clarity
    2. Opportunities to do what they do best
    3. Opportunities to develop 
    4. Strong coworker relationships
    5. Common mission or purpose
  • CultureWorks tests motivations and in many cases money for sales people is not their greatest motivators.  They are often motivated by challenge, prestige family, service or one of the 22 other motivators that need to be tested
  • A constant parade of perks while it is attractive and an industry has been built around it will never engage your people the way a manager can when they truly focus on the keys to engagement
  • We use these guiding principles as we work with managers on executable plans developed from the Gallup Q12 employee engagement survey results.

 Are there early warning signs to see when engagement issues may be starting to develop?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is OibYDs8Rkx-Exap-W72_HEDG8JJV0YLi6wNc9iDIPCHl50RDqQfEcc4xuxw4CdiQh8xPw0P4U-WTDsq4XOG7fNb-1DlNTeSHDMzlm54fidNFwevzIL-PcYvUOYVHfF_HuQr2YJwA

This is a bit of a personal obsession with me recently . Existing Analytics to measure changing engagement exist and are being tested. As for sales, DRIVE Engagement has worked with sales leaders to develop early warning signals that should not be ignored. The goal is to help leaders identify engagement issues early (up to a year out) before they become disruptive and expensive. We have identified 20+ early warning signs for Sales Disengagement in Four Categories.

  • Activity and Performance
  • Discretionary Effort
  • Team Dynamics
  • Customer Focus

We always recommend that managers do not find excuses for these changes. Take them seriously so they can be identified and addressed immediately.

Can you help managers become aware of their own early warning engagement signs and help them dig out the issue on their own?
We need to remember that most employees will not bring engagement issues to you for many reasons

  • Lack of self awareness
  • Fear
  • Embarrassment

When engagement only lives at the  leadership level as a corporate initiative  it does not gain traction. I hesitate to say it will fail but it will not reach its full potential. Engagement needs to be activated and managed at three levels. It must be a part of day to day culture and management

  • Senior Leadership level
  • Management level
  • Employee level

How do people reach you?
Phone: 888-722-4491
Web: driveengagement.ca
Email: dean@driveengagement.ca