05 July 2023 |

is your strategy missing something?

By Gabrielle "GB" Blackwell

If there was ever a quote to encapsulate my experience in management, it’d be this one from good ol’ Billy Shakespeare: 

“When the sea was calm, all ships alike showed mastership in floating. Faith is tested during the storm, anybody can do calm.”

When I reflect on this quote, I’m reminded of a time where a metaphorical “storm” completely obliterated a team I was managing. 

Senior Leadership announced our entire segment would be given a book of business composed of untested verticals. We also found out that a new Senior Manager with a penchant for treating people like dogs would take over the entire department. 

Within two months of those changes, only 2 out of 15 reps in our segment managed to hit their quota. The rest of the reps were on a performance improvement plan and under threat of termination, or one month away from being on a PIP.

Let’s just say, the seas were treacherous. 

It didn’t help that I’d changed for the worse during these early times, in an attempt to win my new boss’s favor. I became obsessed with driving subordination to activity expectations rather than cultivating an environment of empowerment. And I stopped taking time to listen to my reps’ concerns out of fear; my manager viewed empathy as a threat to be eliminated. 

But wait – it gets worse.

My team and I were lost at sea – we had barely hit 50% of our quota and negativity shrouded us like a storm cloud. Then, a wave of resignations hit. 50% of my team turned in their letter of resignation over the course of 3 weeks – 3 within 3 days of each other.

Finding our True North

I had misled my team. I had mismanaged the situation. 

And it’s because I had forgotten the most critical piece of what it means to be a people manager: Inspiring and cultivating a sense of team amongst my people.

Inspiring and cultivating a sense of team helps people:

Aka, reps who feel like they’re a part of a team are way more likely to be fully engaged. *Cough* more engaged sales reps have 37% higher sales, 31% higher productivity and are three times more likely to stay with their organization *cough*.

Turning the corner

Once I recognized what was missing – that sense of team – I went to work on making things right. 

This meant complementing performance objectives with team engagement objectives.

Once I set my goals for my team, I focused on getting my team into a place where we’d be better able to weather any storm thrown at us.

The result?

Within 2 months of putting my plan into action, I saw every single one of my reps hit at least 100% of their quota. I then saw my team make history with the most consecutive months of 100%+ team achievement of any team in my segment in over 2 years. 

Plain sailing

My team cleared the storm and each person, including myself, came out on the other side feeling more connected to each other, more proud of what we accomplished together, and more motivated to perform even better.

This change in my team wasn’t something that happened overnight. And the team identity we established wasn’t something that just appeared on its own.

It took creating a vision, mapping out values, operationalizing those values, and empowering each team member to recognize how significant a role they played in the others’ success. 
In the weeks ahead, I’ll dive into everything you’ll need to know when it comes to building a team identity. Stay tuned, because next week, we’re launching straight into the biggest challenge of developing a team identity – knowing where to start.