Welcome back!
Feedback About Feedback!
My latest HBR article, Encourage Your Employees to Give You Critical Feedback, has been among my most popular. In fact I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on it – with many of the comments on HBR’s LinkedIn channel highlighting that this may be one of the most important skills for leaders. It’s certainly one of the most desirable skills people look for in their managers.
We all know that feedback is an important tool in improving performance. But it’s clear based on the responses that most managers need to do a better job of properly seeking and responding to critical feedback. Earlier this week I did a LinkedIn Live session on this topic – if you want some additional perspective you can watch here.
Are Emails And Meetings Hurting Your Productivity?
What takes up all of your time during the work day? If you’re like many leaders, probably meetings, video calls, and endless emails. You must ask, are those things really helping you get the job done or are they getting in the way? Most would say at least some if not a lot of the latter.
So why do you continue to set more meetings and send more emails?
It’s a habit.
When we have problems to address or issues to resolve, we call more meetings. We send more emails. And sometimes they do help, though often the problem persists or takes another form. More communication is not always the answer, despite the well-worn aphorism to “over communicate.” Rather, more precise communication is the answer.
Before sending or scheduling, see if you can get to the root cause of the heavy email traffic and overscheduled calendars. Ask yourself the following questions:
  • Are we pursuing unclear objectives or goals?
  • Do different teams have conflicting priorities and objectives?
  • Are we trying to solve problems without identifying the causes?
  • Is information being shared (especially dense, overly detailed information) that would be better for another forum?
  • Is there a lack of agreement among leaders on what is urgent or important? Has everything become urgent and important?
  • Are the reward and feedback systems aligned with company values and strategy? Are we encouraging and discouraging the appropriate behaviors?
The fact of the matter is that email and meetings are simply mediums. You will find them much more effective when there is clarity about why they are being used.
Slow down. Avoid scheduling meetings and sending emails for the sake of it. Be more intentional about what you are trying to accomplish. Spend time defining the problems before you try to solve them. Without this kind of focus, meetings and emails will devolve to habits rather than intentional and strategic tools.
To learn more about how to be strategic with meetings and increase productivity, you may find these articles of value. Of course, I can’t resist pointing out that I wrote them a year ahead of the pandemic! If only I had applied my leadership advice to investments in Zoom!
Why Companies Still Struggle To Sell Solutions (Despite the fact that it’s been talked about for over 40 years!)
The shift from selling products to selling solutions is a familiar strategy for companies. It allows them to provide a comprehensive solution to their customers by bundling products and services, resulting in more sales. But the execution of this transition can be very challenging for the sales team. They must adapt from selling simple options to diving into the rough waters of selling better (but more complicated) solutions.
After decades of witnessing companies struggle with implementing this type of approach, I wrote an article for Forbes called Why Companies Struggle to Sell Solutions. There are three critical factors that contribute to companies failing to succeed when shifting to a consultative sales approach:
  1. The sales organization is not connected to the go-to-market strategy. The sales team needs to fully understand the company strategy and the role they play. Alignment between the strategy and the sales process and experience that is implemented is imperative.
  2. Management practices don’t support the solution sales process. Moving to selling more complex solutions will require adjustments in how the sales team is managed. Determine the appropriate metrics, milestones, hiring practices, and professional development for the team.
  3. Consultative selling is much harder than anyone thinks. The degree of difficulty is taken for granted. Selling sophisticated solutions requires a great deal of skill. It is not an easy career. And it’s definitely not something anyone could do. Leaders need to build the capacity of their sales team.
Remember, shifting from selling products to selling solutions won’t work if efforts are sporadic and siloed. When implementing these strategies, be consistent and tackle it collaboratively.
Current Read
“Our Brains Make Us Way Too Optimistic About Meeting Deadlines. Here’s How to Work Around That.”
I often tell clients that we massively overestimate what is possible in the next quarter but frequently underestimate what is possible a year from now.
It’s true – when it comes to creating timelines and budgets or meeting deadlines, people are often far too optimistic. Most of the time a task or project takes far more time and money than originally anticipated. Why? Blame it on a concept known as planning fallacy, which causes you to fixate on the most optimistic of options for a future task, and convince yourself that it is a realistic plan. How can you avoid falling into this trap of optimism? Check out this week’s current read.
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Edinger Consulting