Helping your staff to quit complaining.

In recent years I had an opportunity, yes we’ll call it that to lead and coach a team of sales people…but not just an ordinary sales team, my partner and lead sales agent wanted to put together a team of the lowest achievers as way to truly help those we felt needed it the most and prove to management that there was more to running a sales organization that simply leading a horse to water.  In that time I learned a few things and I would like to share with you my vision of team cohesion.

Happy staff come from a group with interesting work to do, working with enjoyable coworkers who know how to win as a group, who feel empowered and appreciated.

It’s not quite that simple, but that is the root of the equation, the whole puzzle looks something like this.  Now I hate to have to say it, I use to think differently but there is always a bottom 20% of your work force.  When we began our little team experiment we went into it believing that everyone was a “10” and I still believe that everyone can be a 10 if they choose.  What I did learn however that some people will choose not to be.  Some believe that work is a social club and the actual work gets in the way, some believe that management is there to cater to every whim, and some staff do have legitimate hindrances to their ability to work in every enviroment.  Understand I am a firm believer in equal opportunity, however if a staff member chooses not to take advantage of that opportunity it is their own hand that shaped their fate.  At the end of this long diatribe I simple want you to understand that the process of creating a team when members are the elite working force of your organization will be like placing magnets pole to pole…some will flip around and come together, others will scatter off the table.

So how does a team win together?

Clear Goals
Clear Goals

Clear Goals; you can not win unless you know where the goal is.  Think of a professional sports team playing without a score keeper…the fans would kill each other at the end of the game arguing over who won or lost.  It is the same in the business world, without a clear goal, and score keeper your group is NOT GOING TO WIN!  So I employe you to have a tracking system and goals that every member of the team knows in order to give them the CHANCE to win.

Team Accountability
Team Accountability

Once the have a shot at winning, that is they know how to win you need to help keep them on the straight and narrow.  What do you think the chances would be of you getting in the car and driving to work (or the store if you work at home) without looking up from the pedals?  I would not recommend putting it to the test.  The same can be said for setting goals and then putting your head down and charging for the finish line.  Your team needs to be reminded of where they are going and how close they are to getting there.  Take the time to celebrate milestones as well.

This brings us to Appreciation, the team as a whole and the individual members need to know they are appreciated.


Celebrate all the small victories and ensure that the people…yes they are people (someday) know they are respected.  Respect can come from a lot of little things, however the opposite is true as well.  Open door policies started as a way to show employees that their time and opinions were respected.  Now the sign on the closed-door that says “My door is always open” is the way we tell them…hmm.  Great leadership does not come from sitting in an office playing strategy, but from connecting with your people, one-on-one at EVERY opportunity possible.


This will also lead to you knowing your employees better, and hopefully trusting them more,  if not you may have some character issues on your team which HR may need to address.  Trust in your employees, that you express to them gives them a boost and is the first step in helping them feel empowered.

Empowerment in employees, who know what the goal is and how the team plans to get there is license to unleash creativity.


I’ve recently entered a time of new discover with my 2.5 year old son, and some how my experiences with my son at that age keep relating back to staff-managment relations, weird…

My son likes to have me play cars with him, however it’s a little disconcerting because he chooses which car I get to play, gets upset if I don’t play right, and cries or yells when I decide there is something else I would rather be doing.

Sound like any bosses you’ve every had?  Don’t be that guy.

Honest Feedback
Honest Feedback

Another key tenet of employee empowerment is “Honest Feedback.”

Oh no, he used quotations, why would he do that, he’s trying to make a point isn’t he.

Yes, this means having to some time have hard conversations, but that shows trust and will be a symptom of autonomy.  If you are willing and able to trust your team members, and give them lots of rope to be the autonomous and creative in reaching your (and I mean all of your goals) you have to be honest enough to tell them when they have ties a slip knot, placed it around their neck, thrown the rope over a tree branch…and hopefully before the step off the edge.

This will be tough for some of your staff to deal with, but again you are running a business.  If they are unable to deal with frank (polite) feedback they may not be suited to work on your team.

Individual Accountability
Individual Accountability

Just like your team will need to be help accountable to reaching the groups objective, each member of the team needs to carry their own weight.  I’ll say that again “each member of the team needs to carry their own weight.”

That being clear, I also believe it is your job as a manager of people to manage them.  Have you put them in a role they are capable of doing?  Have you given them the tools they need and coached them along the way?

Team Trust
Team Trust

In order for the whole team to win, there needs to be team work, and in order for the team to work together they need to have trust.  When you watch a WWII movie, how often do you see one lone soldier charging across the field?  I meant that was not the main character…rarely.  When they move they move as a team, knowing that their team’mates‘ have their back.  They are supported, working together.

Now what would happen if we put all the pieces of this puzzle back together?

Would you like to have a team that knew what their goal was, were held accountable to achieving the goal as a team and as individual components of the team.  A team that trusted each other and you, felt respected and was open to giving and receiving honest feedback.  A team of people who you had trust in and had the initiative to do whatever needed doing in order to win?

I hope your answer is;


Dave Williams

If you liked this blog post you might also enjoy  keeping staff vs training new staff?


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