Tag Archives: trust

Building Trust

trust-building-big-sizeA couple of weeks ago, I wrote about “Why I Fired My Top Salesperson.” And it all came down to a single reason, trust. I can’t think of one thing a successful leader needs to do more in a business than establish a culture of trust.

 

Leaders influence people. Trust is the foundation upon which the ability to influence others is built.

 

Simon Sinek puts it this way: “Being a good leader is like being a good parent. You catch glimmers of hope when you catch them doing something right, but you really don’t know if you’ve done a good job for like 30-years.”

 

Trust is comprised of two basic components: character and competence. Character means you make decisions that go beyond your own self-interests. Certainly, in firing my top salesperson, that wasn’t going to help my month or quarter. It wasn’t in my own self-interests for the present moment. But knowing that the long-term good of my radio stations was the value I was protecting, and maintaining the trust of the people who I worked with every day, made doing the right thing clear albeit difficult. Competence doesn’t mean having all the answers. Competence means having the experience and knowledge to make decisions that positively impact the performance of the enterprise and the courage to ask for help when you need it. (I always tell people I have an awesome contact file full of brilliant people to call when I need help.)

 

When your people trust your character and believe in your competence, they will follow you wherever you lead them.

 

Being a trusted leader is done with love.

 

I attended Weight Watcher meetings for the first time in my life this year. Like everyone else on the planet I wanted to drop a few pounds, but I also wanted to see if I could pick up any new information about nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle. What I learned was that change occurs by what you consistently do every day. That message was shared by others in the room that had lost lots of weight, all taking the same journey and it was shared with love. Simon Sinek also says when we are surrounded by people who believe what we believe and we feel loved, trust develops.

 

10,000 Hours

 

Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book “The Tipping Point” that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to get really good at something. You can’t rush trust building anymore than you can rush how long it takes to make a baby. Babies are born when they are good and ready. And you can’t build trust via email, Facebook, Twitter or any other form of modern day communication. You build trust when people come together through human contact. It’s why webinars lose one of the main benefits of seminars, that being people coming together and meeting one another. (Besides, I don’t know about you, but I’m always doing at least two other things when I’m on a webinar.)

 

Again, when we’re surrounded by people who believe what we believe trust develops.

 

Be Like Ed Koch

 

Ed Koch was a three-time mayor of New York City. Mayor Koch was famous for asking people everywhere he went “How Am I Doing?” He got in their faces and asked. Over and over and over; Mayor Koch asked “How Am I Doing?”

 

You build trust by being consistent.

 

The best teachers teach by sharing their mistakes and what they learned. People don’t connect with perfection. People connect with people who’ve been there, screwed it up, learned from it and shared the experience. Real courage is being able to share your mistakes with others and like who you are in the process of doing that.

 

When you reveal yourself in this way, you demonstrate what you believe and value.

 

In other words, you build trust.

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Why I Fired My Top Salesperson

My students are always stunned when I tell them about the time I fired my top salesperson. “Why would you do that?” they always ask. Today, I’m going to share that story with you.

In today’s competitive world, top performers are usually cut a little slack. There’s nothing really wrong with that, unless it breaks a culture of honesty, fairness and trust.

If you’re in any kind of sales, you know that one of the ways management motivates and stimulates sales people are through the use of contests. Sales people are competitive folks and the best like to win. I know I do. In fact, I have a picture that has hung the wall of every office I’ve ever occupied. It says “If you ain’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes.” Lead Dog

Well this latest sales contest was coming down to the wire and the sales people were running neck and neck. It was having every employee in the whole radio station wondering which one of the sales people would capture the top prize and finish first.

On the final day of the contest, just before the 5 o’clock bell rang signifying the end of the contest, my top sales person came running into my office with a contract that put him in first place. We all congratulated him on his win and went home to enjoy the weekend.

On Monday morning, my traffic and business department people came to me with that signed contract along with other signed contracts from that same client and it was quite apparent something was fishy. The signature turned in just before the bell on Friday was quite different than all the others.

I called my top sales person into my office along with my sales manager and we asked this person if the client had actually signed this contract. After some hemming and hawing, he said “NO.” He explained that the client was on a cruise and wouldn’t be back in the office until today and he was planning to go over there and get his approval for the advertising. He said that he knew the client would definitely agree to the advertising. I knew he would too. And that’s why it was so sad when I told him he was fired.

Enforcing a culture of honesty, fairness and trust is hard.

The only way you can maintain that culture is by understanding that you have to fire people no matter what their performance has been. You can’t build a great organization unless you commit to doing just that.

Unlike many other radio stations in my market, I had a waiting line of top sales people wanting to join my team. A great culture helps you attract the most talented people.

A half-dozen years later I was recruited back into this same market from the Midwest and had the task of launching a brand new radio format. I needed to hire people for every position.

The good news is that because of my reputation for honesty, fairness and trust, I attracted many in-market pros when I hung out the “Help Wanted” sign.

One of the people who came to see me and apply for a position on my new sales team was the top salesperson I had fired years ago. He was employed in sales at another radio station in the metro and was doing quite well. Most of the accounts he had on-the-air at his current station had already been assigned to sales people I had already hired. He didn’t care. He wanted to come back and work with me. We reviewed the past that led up to his termination and he swore he had learned his lesson and that it would never happen again. I believed him. It never did.

In his first 30-days, he sold over $100,000.00 in advertising. Most of it paid cash-in-advance. He once again was my top salesperson. I believe in second chances. I also believe in committing to the type of culture that wins with honesty, fairness and trust.

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Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales