Sales Management

Traits and Roles of Effective Management

Traits and Roles of Effective Management

Effective managers all share similar traits and fulfill similar responsibilities in their organizations.  Managers in diverse industries and cultures can be compared in order to obtain a basic description of the functions and traits of effective managers.  In order to gain the most usable information basic goals and traits should be accepted as the baselines of comparisons.  The role of a manager in any organization is to be the person ultimately responsible for the success or failure of a department, group, team, or entire organization.  Managers should be extroverts, conscientious, and agreeable in order to effectively complete the four functions of management which are planning, organization, leading, and controlling.

The role of a manager in any organization is to be the person most responsible for its success or failure.  A manager can be assigned to be responsible for a small portion of the organization or can be responsible for the entire organization.  Regardless of how large or small the area of responsibility the manager is the person “responsible for supervising and making the most of an organization’s human and other resources to achieve its goals” (Jones & George, 2011, p. 4).  Most organizations would fail without the manager in place to be accountable for ensuring the direction members are taking.

The type of organization determines to some effect the specific roles that a manager must be prepared to conquer to be effective.  Customer facing front line managers have to be proficient at equipping themselves and the organization members they manage to deal with customer concerns.  A typical front line manager in all organizations has to display an aptitude for training new employees how to deliver customer service, be an excellent communicator in all customer and employee interactions, and be decisive when dealing with customer requests and complaints.  Additionally, a manager may be required to be a product expert and sales closer if the organization is a sales organization or be a mechanical expert on production equipment if managing a production organization.

There are many traits that are required to be an effective manager and therefore most experts do not agree on the most important traits that a manager should exhibit.  Although there is not a total consensus there are certain traits that seem to be agreed on by most students of management.  In a study published by the Center for Creative Leadership the most important traits were “conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism have been found to be related to managerial effectiveness for managers in the United States, Canada, and Europe, with conscientiousness having the most consistent effect across the two meta-analytic studies” (Leslie, 2002, p. 24).  An investigation of the most important managerial traits will lead to a better understanding of how to find and develop manager that will be indispensable assets in any organization.

The first common trait found in most effective managers around the world is conscientiousness.  Conscientiousness is defined as “involving or taking great care; painstaking; diligent; governed by or done according to conscience” (Conscientiousness, 2011, n.p.).  The average manager is faced with hundreds of decisions each day and those decisions can cost the organization time, money, and human resources.  Decisions made in a conscientious, or diligent manner will be better than those made in haste or without any consideration of the results.  A manager that displays conscientiousness will have advantages while carrying out the four functions of management which are planning, organization, leading, and controlling.

Planning involves identifying and selecting “appropriate organizational goals and courses of action; they develop strategies for how to achieve high performance” (Jones & George, 2011, p. 8).  Being diligent and conscientious during the planning stage avoids hasty mistakes while charting the future plans of the organization.

Organizing is the second function of effective management and having a manager display conscientiousness makes organizing much easier.  Organizing is “structuring working relationships so organizational members interact and cooperate to achieve organizational goals” (Jones & George, 2011, p. 9).  .  Being diligent while laying out the organizational structure assists because thought is given to what will be the best form or structure of the organization.

The third function of effective management is leading.  Although being conscientious will assist a manager in carrying out the organizational vision it is not the most important trait of a manager while trying to lead.  Leading is actually motivating and energizing the organization and that is often not the strength of a conscientious manager.

Controlling is the fourth function of management.  Controlling involves managers evaluating “how well an organization has achieved its goals and to take any corrective actions needed to maintain or improve performance” (Jones & George, 2011, p. 10).  Effective managers take the time to study the output of the organization and devise methods to track the work being done by the organization.  Being conscientious is a huge advantage in a manager being able to devise and follow a strategy of goal setting and tracking the outcome of the organization’s work.

The second common trait that has been found to be shared by effective managers around the world is extraversion.  Extraversion is the personality trait that according to Costa and McCrae displays “warmth, gregariousness, assertiveness, activity, excitement seeking, positive emotions.  Extraverts are sociable. They like people, prefer large gatherings, and are assertive, active, and talkative. They like excitement and stimulation and tend to be energetic and optimistic” (Costa & McCrae, 1992, p. 22).

Planning involves setting the organization’s goals.  The strategies developed in the planning stage of an organization are the backbone of what the organization will become.  Having an extrovert as a manager during this phase would certainly help during the planning stage because the discussions about the possible courses of action would be lively and the debates would be more easily won by the extroverted manager.  The overall advantage of the extrovert is not very dominant however during the planning stage

Organizing is the second function of effective management and having a manager that is extraverted is a huge advantage while organizing.  Organizing involves making relationships in an organization work in a way that all the members interact with each other in a way that is productive.  Having a manager that is outgoing and assertive arrange the other members of the organization avoids possible conflicts and dissention by the other members.

The third function of effective management is leading.  Being extraverted is a huge advantage to the manager in leading.  Leading is based on motivating and energizing members of the organization and having the ability as a manager to interact with others and being the focal point of discussions and debates is invaluable.  The extrovert should shine in the leading function of management.

Controlling is the fourth function of management.  Controlling is based on measuring the quality and quantity of the organization’s output.  The extroverted personality trait is beneficial in controlling because the manager can be active in the correction part of controlling.  An extrovert may not be the best at following the rules or tracking in a way that has been instructed so there is a weakness in this function.

The third common trait that has been found to be shared by effective managers around the world is agreeableness.  Agreeableness is displayed by a manager that is “altruistic, sympathetic to others and eager to help them, and trusting and cooperative rather than competitive” (Costa & McCrae, 1992, p. 22).

Planning involves setting the organization’s goals.  A manager that is agreeable during the planning stage will listen to suggestions from others as well as setting goals that are in the best interest of all involved.  This is a strong function of the manager that is agreeable.

Organizing is the second function of effective management and having a manager that is agreeable can be a slight disadvantage during this stage.  Organizing how the organization’s work flows involves arranging people in the most effective way possible which may not be the most popular.  A manager that is agreeable may not make the best decisions because of trying to listen to too many suggestions.

The third function of effective management is leading.  Have a manager that displays agreeableness is an asset in this function of management.  People tend to like managers that listen to suggestions and seem to be interested in the well being of others ahead of themselves.  In an organization those managers that have the support of their subordinates often can inspire positive production from them.  Agreeableness in a manager can also cause issues to arise however from a manager not exerting sufficient influence and direction by enforcing the rules and procedures put in place by the organization.

Controlling is the fourth function of management.  Controlling is based on measuring the quality and quantity of the organization’s output.  The manager that exhibits agreeableness often has a weakness in trying to control the work of the organization.  The agreeable manager excels at arranging the tracking of the work due to the collaborative nature of their management style; however when it becomes time to correct those members that are not producing the agreeable manager could face hardship.

There is not a single definition of the perfect manager.  Each manager brings personality traits and life experiences that make them unique.  There are certain traits that are found in most effective managers; all seem to share similar traits and fulfill similar responsibilities in their organizations.  Managers in diverse industries and cultures can be compared in order to obtain a basic description of the functions and traits of effective managers.  Based on the investigation of successful managers it is clear that managers should be extroverts, conscientious, and agreeable in order to effectively complete the four functions of management which are planning, organization, leading, and controlling.

 

 

References

Conscientious. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved June 26, 2011, from Dictionary.com website:http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/conscientious

Costa, P. T., Jr., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R) and NEO FiveFactor Inventory (NEO-FFI) Professional Manual. Odessa, FL: PAR.

Jones, G. R., & George, J. M. (2011). Essentials of contemporary management
(4th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw Hill.

Leslie, Jean Brittain; Center for Creative Leadership (Contributor); Dalton, Maxine A.. Managerial Effectiveness in a Global Context. Greensboro, NC, USA: Center for Creative Leadership, 2002. p 22. http://site.ebrary.com/lib/ashford/Doc?id=10185427&ppg=33

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Sales Management

Employee Motivation

Employee Motivation

Modern management theory advances the thought that motivation of employees is a key task of managers.  The reason that managers are so concerned with motivating employees is that “an organization will be effective only if its members are motivated to perform at a high level” (Jones & George, 2011, p. 296).  Employees and managers that are driven to succeed are huge assets to a company because it is the desire to succeed that motivation seeks to impart.  The basis of anyone’s motivation comes specifically from their life experience and background but there are some basic human motivators that are shared regardless of background.  Basic needs that address physical requirements for life are shared among all humans, needs for food, water, and shelter are common motivating factors and must be addressed for any motivational technique to be effective.

Some management experts contend that motivation is not something that can be taught or exerted by a manager.  The common theory being that, “You cannot motivate anyone except yourself. Motivation is very personal and comes from within. There may be external factors but the driver comes from within. Now what you can do is inspire others. Inspiration precedes motivation”  (Norris, 2011, np.).

There are many contrasting theories that managers are able to use in an effort to motivate employees.  A very popular and seemingly effective theory is known as goal setting theory.  Goal setting theory is effective because it uses specific and difficult to reach goals to motivate employees (Jones & George, 2011, p. 311).  An effective use of goal setting theory is to set goals that are specific and can be divided into monthly, weekly, or even daily goals that are measurable and require effort to reach.  A sales manager would therefore set goals for the sales team that are definable such as a certain unit of sales each month and also that set activity goals such as making thirty phone calls a day in order to prospect for customers.

One of the simplest and most direct motivational theory is known as need theory.  Need theory simply says that people that operate at a high level of performance should be able to satisfy different needs (Jones & George, 2011, p. 316).  This simple motivation is used by companies that allow salespeople to sell products and get paid based on the number of products sold or on the profit made.

Motivation is based on a organization’s overall needs as well as each member’s needs and wants.  Managers must learn to use every type of motivation available to them and be flexible in how they attempt to motivate their organizations.

References

Jones, G. R., & George, J. M. (2011). Essentials of contemporary management
(4th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw Hill.

Norris, R. (2011). How to motivate anyone for success – especially yourself – with seven minutes and a cup of coffee. Training & Management Development Methods, 25(2), June 11, 2011.

 

 

School

Back to School

I am attending college.  That is not a unique statement, except that it is being made by someone who was discouraged from attending school from an early age and who was never a star pupil.  I always thought of going back to school but never found the time, or never really thought I needed the validation of a degree.  I was wrong.

I am now enrolled in a degree program at Ashford University.  I am learning new facts, I am relearning things that have faded after twenty years, and unlearning erroneous information picked up over the years.

I will begin posting updates so that I can chronicle my journey.

Sales Management

Always Sell To People

No matter what we sell or who we think we are selling to, sales really comes down to one thing, hearing and understanding what the person you are dealing with is really asking or telling you.

When you go beyond what someone is saying and understand why they are saying it, only then will you be able to ally with them. Only when they begin to view you as an ally will you be able to address the real objection. Only when they begin to like you as an ally will they begin to like you as a salesperson but more importantly as a real person that ‘gets’ them as a person.

You cannot bluff your way through the sales process and expect to be the best. The best you can hope for by bluffing is to be average. Top salespeople truly understand that there is no word track or magic phrase that works in every sales situation. Memorizing phrases and lines only distances you from your customer and may work occasionally but more often fails. Each customer has had different life experiences and will react differently even in the same situation.

Our job as salespeople is to understand the ‘why’ of what people say not just the ‘what’ of what they say.

“Hear what your customers inner voice is trying to tell you.”

Sales Management

The New Selling Climate

There are terabytes of data being written and published about the ‘new’ selling climate by the experts. Most of these experts say to adopt  new sales concepts to cope with the current market and economy. The Who had it right  however, in ‘Wont Get Fooled Again’  they sang, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”  Selling today is no different from selling yesterday or tomorrow.

The steps to the sale are the same today as they were ten years ago. Professional salespeople in any industry know what those steps are and follow them with every prospect.  The difference today is that the amatuer salesperson can no longer compete as they could when the economy was expanding. Sales professionals in any industry know the steps to the sale and follow them which gives them an advantage in all conditions.  Having an advantage is not the same as being impervious.

Does a slowing economy affect sales professionals? Of course it does. Just like professional golfers are affected by inclimate weather conditions during a tournament, so are professional salespeople affected by the economy. The reason that amatuers dont win golf tournaments (the last amatuer win in the U.S. Open was in 1933) is because they have not had the same repetitions of perfect practice to respond to the extreme pressure of playing in a major. The same is true of the sales environment, the amatuers are the ones that will wilt under the pressure of extreme situations.

So fellow salespeople what do we do? We go back to the basics and do the things that make the great ones great, we practice. We practice every situation again and again until we do not have to think about our responses. We practice until every question that we are asked is expected and every situation is just another anticipated step to the sale. So, go train, learn the steps to the sale, learn the major objections you hear in your industry and how to handle them, and practice. Oh yeah, then practice some more.

Life

The Voices in Our Heads

Something happened to me today that reminded me why we need to understand the voices all of us have in our heads. I received instructions last week about a project I am working on. In the email were specific instructions about part of the project that had to be completed within 48 hours. Somehow I missed those instructions. The task did get completed but on Monday, but not in the mandated time frame.

I was sending an email back to the person responsible for the project early this morning and reread her email and noticed what I had missed earlier. Needless to say the voices in my head woke up at that point and started yelling, pointing out how badly I had done and convincing me that I had surely blown this opportunity. For the next two hours I allowed my inner voices to punish me. When I finally spoke to the project coordinator she said what she meant was 48 business hours and that it was no problem. Although relieved, it made me think about peoples internal motivations, the voices in their heads.

Often we deal with customers that want things or say things that make little sense to us. This morning reminded me that we all live inside our own heads and that the interactions we have with people are our attempt to share our internal voices. Some people are better at translating that internal voice than others. But to be professional when we are dealing with people we have to be the best at hearing what the other persons internal voices are trying to say. Always identify not only what your customer is saying out loud but also become skilled in what they are not saying, or are saying internally.

During my internal argument I was not at my best handling the other things going on at work. Occasionally we may have a teammate who is usually on point, ready to tackle the next challenge, who all of a sudden seems flat and distracted. As a team manager or fellow teammate we should be careful to identify the problem before wading in with advice or criticism, they may be in a deep discussion with their internal voices and may or may not need your help.

Acknowleging your own internal voice is difficult. Far too often people simply internalize their feelings or ignore what, deep inside they know to be true. The opposite is to listen so much to the voices that you fail to hear the outside world of logic and reason. So the key is to have a balance, listen to the voices, but decide if they are saying something you should pay attention to or something to ignore. The ability to know that difference will change the course of your life.

Auto Sales, Life, Sales Management

You Cant Teach Talent, You Cant Learn It Either

Each of us has a talent.  Few properly identify their talent.  Fewer still correctly use that talent in their lives.  Those that do can soar with the eagles.
 
From this idea, I learned that you cannot teach talent.  As a manager I often believed that I could take anyone that was ambitious enough and make them into a great salesperson.  I knew how to train them effectively, how to coach for success, how to build a team, so I was convinced I could make everyone around me acheive greatness.  The truth, however, was that I could make better salespeople, but unless there was some underlying talent, I could not make them into great salespeople.
 
Coaches in most sports know that there are players on their teams that have more talent than others.  Having the most talent on a team does not ensure greatness; this is why coaches continue to make all their players practice constantly.  Talent without honing the required skills for success is merely wasted talent.
 
Skills are essential to learn, regardless of a person’s level of talent.  As opposed to talent, skills can be taught.  As a manager I learned that I had to focus on teaching skills, not talent.
 
The first step is to identify the talents that you need to make a successful team and go recruit them.  Secondly, you must be involved in the hiring process; not being involved creates a handicap in your management potential.  If this is not possible, your recruiter should understand what talent is needed to complete your team.  Once you have gathered the talent you need, practice and drill the essential skills each team member needs to fulfill his potential.
 
Understand one thing, not all talented people have the desire necessary to acheive greatness.  Sometimes it is necessary to cut a team member, even a talented one, if they are not executing the skills you have taught them.  Remember, too, that most people don’t recognize their own talents,  You must be the expert and provide the mirror for them to see their potential.
 
Never believe what someone tells you during an interview regarding their intrinsic talents.  Devise your own style of identifying the characteristics of the talent you are seeking.

*Thanks to my new editor, Michelle Moravec, she is the Booklady!