Featured Blog by Jack & Suzy Welch

I was talking to a friend this weekend about his desire to call out the things that are wrong with his company and the faulty processes they use.  Of course, some of this is fine…but going overboard and being the “truth sayer” day after day with comments or complaints about all the things that are wrong…will get you uninvited to the inner circle at best…and uninvited to remain at the company at the worst.  Then on Monday morning, I saw the blog that follows written by Jack Welch.  Perfect advice!

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By Jack and Suzy Welch

jack_suzy_welch_headshotYou’re out having lunch at your favorite pizza spot, sitting around with your colleagues, and the hot topic of the day is the new evaluation system at work. You hate it. It’s all a bunch of bureaucratic phoniness.

At last week’s lunch, it was the strategic planning process. All chart-making, not real discussion – no one can stand it. And budget reviews, they’re just one big negotiation. Who’s the smartest negotiator in the room? Usually it’s your guy Joe in the next cube, who always gets a little more money in his budget, just because he’s smoother and more articulate. He somehow pulls it all off on personal relationships – it’s not really fair.

Not to mention your frustration at your latest raise, which you learned was the exact same amount everyone else got – even though you did so much more of the work. If only, you wish, someone would recognize it.

Just stop all this, okay?

You’re on an absolute suicide mission when you moan about what you can’t fix. A victim loses every single time. You can be sure people are sick of listening to you, even if you’re completely justified in everything you’re thinking. Even if you’re the smartest person in the room, you can’t just go and tell your boss (or worse, the person sitting next to you) that they’re doing something backwards. They bought into it. They’re doing it. They own the responsibility for the outcome, you don’t.

But there is one thing you can do about it. Actually, a lot you can do.

That is, you can make it your mission to change all the things you’ve been thinking about within your own little group, whether it’s three people or six people or ten. Make the way you operate more transparent. Make the planning sessions real – with true give and take, taking the market into account. Encourage your team to find a better way every day. And celebrate when they do – making a big party out of each small win. Have the kind of straight-talk performance reviews that inspire your people to stretch and always be reaching for more (and be sure you don’t punish them when they’re willing to do that.) And finally, differentiate – rewarding the people who do the most with the most, versus sprinkling dollars and resources evenly.

Make your own project or department hum. Make your place the place to be.

In other words, do what you control. The best vent for all your frustrations is within your own reach. You’ve got to create an atmosphere for yourself where you focus all your energy on the things that you can impact directly. It’s the best antidote to whatever annoys you.

And when you do, two things will happen: 1) you’ll see better results start pouring in and 2) everyone will start wanting to hang out in your group because it’s more fun.

Guess what? You’ll get noticed for those things. You’ll become a magnet. All of a sudden, you’ll see that everybody wants to come work for you, because you’ve made your place more exciting, open, and transparent. Other departments will start looking to your little laboratory trying to figure out what it is you’re doing that is so wildly effective.

That’s the kind of action that gets you promoted. It’s the type of action that gets your people promoted, as you push them onwards and upwards with these great behaviors and crazy results. Not to mention, every time you move up, you and your team will bring all the stuff you know works in your area with you, spreading it throughout the company as your sphere of influence grows and grows and grows.

And, if you play this long game well, in time, we’d bet, you’ll find yourself in a position where you have the power to really drive the larger change initiatives and culture improvements you’ve always wanted to see throughout the organization on a greater scale.

Instead of just venting about them.
Jack Welch is Executive Chairman of the Jack Welch Management Institute. Through its online MBA program, the Jack Welch Management Institute transforms the lives of its students by providing them with the tools to become better leaders, build great teams, and help their organizations win. The program was recently named the #1 most influential education brand on LinkedIn and one of the top business schools to watch in 2016.

Suzy Welch is co-author, with Jack Welch, of the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post best-seller The Real-Life MBA, and of the international best-seller Winning.

Written by

Jack Welch

Executive Chairman, The Jack Welch Management Institute

5 Keys to Sales Territory Management

5 Keys to Sales Territory ManagementWhen the strategies, initiatives, and priorities begin to stack up, it may be time to return to the basics and execute.  Because remember, when everything’s important….NOthing’s important.  So start here:

  1. Blocking and Tackling….If a football team’s offensive line can’t do their job with excellence and protect the quarterback, no series of Hail Mary plays will ever win the game.  If the defense can’t stop their opponents from scoring, they will never win.  It may seem boring to practice and perfect “blocking and tackling,” but in sales–if you aren’t seeing your top 20% of your customers regularly, training and providing information to them, bringing them leads, planning with them, and providing superior, responsive support…you stand the chance of losing the business when someone beats you at this same game.  Do the basics of territory and customer management over and over and over again and leave nothing to chance, leave no opening to a competitor, andbe so consistently excellent that your customer could never imagine being in business with anyone else but you.
  2. Continuously Sharpen Your Saw….Stephen Covey taught us that the smart woodsman stops to sharpen his saw rather than sawing away non-stop.  How are you learning more about your profession?  Your industry?  Your competitors? How are you keeping your energy up to be your very best?  How are you improving yourself to be a better provider for your family and for your own future?

Read books, listen to books on CD or MP3, peruse websites and blogs, subscribe to sources of info that matter, take time to eat right and exercise, and commit to being the best you can be.

  1. Collaborate and Make It Easy for Others to Help You…When working with your manager, always bring your recommended solutions when you raise a problem.  Communicate in ways that help others instantly understand what you want from them and how they can help.  Use a “headlines” style in sending written communications and get to the point right off the bat.  Reach out to others throughout your organization for help–across lines, and up and down the ladder.  Be a “networker” inside your own company. And remember,the best results come through collaboration.  You may not have all the answers, and its doubtful that your manager does.  But by collaborating together, 1 + 1 always = 3.
  2. Always Be Heading North…Now that you’re blocking and tackling, you’re sharpening your game, and you’re collaborating and networking to gain support…Just Do It!  And “It” means the things you know you need to be doing to achieve the goals and objectives you and your manager have set for you. Build your own personal work plan and schedule, hold yourself accountable, and head North.
  3. Pay Attention to and Hit the Numbers…Read the sales reports and information you have available to you and use them as indicators of what’s working and what needs attention.  They provide you early warning of shortfalls and they show you what’s working and where. Reaching your sales plan is at the center of the other 4 steps above…and will always be the most important.

Execute…or be Ex-e-cu-ted

There is no doubt that one of the top five lessons I have learned in business is that of execution. And in fact at times it might be number one.

Having worked for a company in the first half of this decade that was fairly good at execution—I have learned how to spot execution when it exists, and more importantly—when it doesn’t. The CEO of our parent company felt execution was so paramount to successful business that he developed The Execution Award for managers who demonstrated effective focus, clarity of management, and clear speed in getting things done. Unfortunately, he would tell you that he could count on one hand the number of times he gave the award away across the various business that were part of the organization. My company was able to secure the award once. And we thought we were good at it.

Yes, execution is elusive.

When it exists, people explain things simply to one another, they reach clear agreements, and they hold one another accountable for results. You can observe it in those who are successful in gaining clear commitments from others, those who write down steps and dates and ensure everyone knows what they are, and then follows up to see to it what was promised truly gets done.

You can also see when execution is lacking—such as in these examples:

A president asks his team at a meeting when something will be completed, and the answer from one of the vice-presidents is “a couple of weeks.” The president then says, “Good—as long as it’s not going to be six weeks.” No one writes anything down and the conversation moves on.

(The problem here is that the president accepted a vague answer, did not write down a precise commitment date, and let the conversation move on without coming to a clear agreement on who, what, and when)

Or two, a manager sends an email to three recipients and addresses remarks to no one in particular—saying she needs some certain result by sometime next week.

(Here again, the lack of specifics cause each of the three recipients to think “Hmmm, certainly one of the other two will respond to this—since it wasn’t directed at me personally.”)

And so it goes. Each of three recipients all go on thinking ‘someone else’ will handle it—and almost certainly no one will.

Or three, the supervisor of a work group needs to know that a brand new process has been used in 100% of the week’s production schedule to meet a quality guarantee. The ideal question would be something like “Was this new process used from the start of Shift ‘A’ this week—and continuously in every shift since right up through today?” Instead, the supervisor who isn’t practicing a solid discipline of execution attempts to ask the question—but expresses it instead as a statement: “And, the new process has been used from the start of Shift ‘A’ this week? His trailing tone leaves it hanging there as a confusing combination between a weak question and an even weaker statement. Its easy for the employees to silently nod their head, but the real answer is never flushed out.

Execution simply means getting things done. And as you can see, it has a very clear connection with a person’s ability to communicate clearly and with intention. You must use direct language. You must look people in the eye when you ask them questions—and get clear agreement. Assumptions cannot be made. Dates and promises are to be written down. Follow-up is to be consistent. And rewards afforded to those who execute—and withheld with those that do not.

Once you begin understanding and recognizing when good execution is present—and when it is not—you will be more purposeful in your dealings with people, with your communication, with your follow up, and with your attention to results.

It is, after all, what separates those who do—from those who do not.

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