A few years ago, I was given the assignment to train 18 salespeople at a large IT distributor for three hours. The topic was how to communicate and perform in their booth at a trade show. I got a little worried when I couldn’t get ahold of the sales manager in advance. I called him, left messages, emailed…He did not respond. “He must be extremely busy,” I thought.
Once I got there, only 12 of the 18 salespeople showed up. Perhaps they had an emergency? Yet the sales manager was there and he seemed calm – sitting apart from the others, setting up his laptop, and getting stuck in his e-mails. As I recall, he didn’t welcome me or introduce me to the team. That was strange…but still ok.
So I started by introducing myself, the purpose, and the topics of the three hours. So far so good. Then I said “Since we only have three hours, it would be good if you could put your phones in flight mode – switch them to silent”
The sales manager looked up for the first time and exclaimed in a loud voice: “No, you will NOT! Customers come first. This is just something extra.”
My authority and mandate went out the window. Half of the gang immediately began to fiddle with their phones. During a short break, those people disappeared for good. Six ambitious salespeople remained the whole time. Guess who performed best at the exhibition?
I once read this in a study: Of 55 factors determining an employee’s engagement – 37 depend on the manager’s behavior! The immediate boss affects more people, more strongly than others do. They look at him/her and copy what he/she is doing. This is how a culture is created.
This was one of the hardest experiences I’ve had in my professional life. Recently I got an email from that same company. A newcomer to their marketing department asked me if I could train their stand staff. She didn’t know the history. I called her up and said, “I am willing to train your staff if the same sales manager is forbidden to join in.” She said she would get back to me.
I haven’t heard anything since, and I am not sad about it.
How do you treat your customers? How do you treat your vendors? How do you treat each other?
Team Antoni Explains
Hello, fellow seekers of workplace wisdom! We, the dedicated team behind the esteemed Antoni Lacinai, the Keynote Speaker and the guiding light at the intersection of Leadership, Customer Focus, and Employee Engagement, have a compelling story to share. It’s a story that vividly illustrates the incredible power of communication in shaping a company’s culture.
Unraveling the Tale of the Trade Show
A few moons ago, we embarked on a journey – a mission to train 18 enthusiastic salespeople from a prominent IT distributor for an upcoming trade show. Our objective was crystal clear: to arm these sales champs with the communication skills they needed to shine at their booth. However, a hiccup emerged as we struggled to connect with the sales manager before the training. Calls went unanswered, messages got lost in the void, and emails vanished into thin air. We wondered, could he be swept away in a whirlwind of responsibilities?
Upon our arrival, an interesting twist awaited us. Out of the 18 salespeople, only 12 joined us. The sales manager was present, cool as a cucumber. But what caught our attention was his detachment. Sitting alone, engrossed in his laptop and emails, there was no warm welcome, no introductions. Yet, we soldiered on, introducing ourselves and the purpose of the session, aiming to set a positive vibe.
A Shift in the Winds
As we gained momentum and urged everyone to put their phones on flight mode for an engaging session, a surprise storm erupted. The once-detached sales manager suddenly raised his voice, proclaiming, “No, you will NOT! Customers come first. This is just something extra.”
In a heartbeat, the room’s atmosphere shifted. Our authority wavered, and the training’s essence was overshadowed. Half of the group turned to their phones, and during a break, many vanished into thin air. Yet, through this storm, six dedicated sales champs stood strong, their commitment paving the way for their future success.
Unveiling the Magic of Leadership Influence
Research has unveiled a remarkable truth – out of the multitude of factors influencing employee engagement, a whopping 37 out of 55 are directly tied to a manager’s behavior. That immediate boss holds immense power, molding the behavior of those around them. Their actions and demeanor craft an environment that sets the tone for the entire team.
Gems from the Experience
This trade show incident became a pivotal lesson etched into our professional journey. Recently, the same company approached us once more, this time through a new member of their marketing team, seeking further training. In an honest conversation, we expressed our willingness to engage, with one condition – the exclusion of the sales manager. A brief pause followed, promising more communication.
A Final Thought
As you delve into this narrative, pause and reflect on your own interactions. How do you treat your customers, vendors, and colleagues? Remember, each action conveys a message – a message that threads the tapestry of your workplace culture.
The trade show story underscores the immense role a boss’s communication plays in cultivating a thriving workplace culture. It’s a poignant reminder that actions resonate louder than words and that a leader’s behavior sets the rhythm for the entire team. In a world where every interaction carries weight, let’s take a moment to ponder the messages we transmit through our actions.