My Sales team arent getting along, am I doing anything wrong?
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Find fear before it finds you - By Trent Leyshan
When you get a bunch of 'Type A' personalities together who are driven and outcome focused, two types of team states commonly form: 'Fabricated Harmony' or 'Genuine Conflict'.
'Genuine Conflict' is when team members don't get along but willingly live with their differences in exchange for a pay packet. There are no team values or value in the team. Sometimes team members align but it's usually short lived as the competitive forces and jostling for rewards and recognition takes priority. Attrition is high, but players' dont seem to mind, as it means one less internal competitor and is part of the game. Managers reward sales success above all else, even at the detriment of other team members and even some clients.
'Fabricated Harmony' is when team members' dont like each-other but pretend like they do to avoid conflict. In this type of environment team members seldom engage in meaningful conversations; are afraid to show real emotions; rarely challenge the opinions of stronger personalities, preferring to see how the penny drops and not be accountable when something goes wrong. Team values are stated, but not clearly communicated and demonstrated. When business is good, the values are forgotten. When times are less prosperous the values magically appear as leverage to dismiss poor performers.
Last year, I worked with a successful web development company and sat in on a number of management meetings. What I observed was; 'Fabricated Harmony'. When a team member expressed an idea other managers disagreed with, they lowered their heads in silent protest and disengaged. Most were not comfortable sharing their emotions and passion with the others. There was little honest and open dialogue around differences of opinion. Their leadership culture was passive-aggressive and no one knew where they stood. After each meeting managers would return to their silos and laugh, bicker and complain until the next meeting. As a result the company struggled to successfully integrate new leaders and suffered high staff turnover.
In the other extreme, yet equally damaging, I recently worked with a retail client who felt the need (for his own valid reasons) to challenge and complain about the behaviour of his business partner, the only problem was he was having these conversations with staff. He felt he had no one else to talk with who would understand and validate his frustrations, so the staff became his emotional dumping ground. This not only caused confusion and de-motivation amongst staff; it set a (negative) tone for how everyone communicates and engages one another and of course clients. When a company doesn't control conflict, the conflict controls the company. In this instance one of the business owners ended-up moving on; but not before several key staff did also.
If I had to choose between being in a team that demonstrates 'Genuine Conflict' or 'Fabricated Harmony', I would select the former, because at least you know where you stand with this team. What I won't condone in a team is 'Fabricated Harmony': surface level engagement, rumours, gossip and back stabbing towards others not present to defend themselves. I'd rather work with a sales team that genuinely doesn't get along and honest it about it, than be in a team that is inauthentic with each other. In a team held together by 'Fabricated Harmony' individual success is paramount, making constructive collaboration and team growth impossible, if not always counterintuitive. I wouldn't last long in a team with 'Genuine Conflict' either, these companies churn and burn staff and is not a place for anyone with a thin skin.
There is a third and more powerful choice: 'Genuine Harmony'. In this team everyone understands collaboration, contrast, debate and constructive feedback. Passionate conversations ensue and fighting for great ideas and grand ideals is encouraged. In these teams, most of the time, everyone plays while they work, but when the hard yards are required there are no passengers. Team member's dont back-stab, instead they back-each-other and are not scared to voice their opinions and show real emotions. Meetings can sometimes be hostile, but when a decision is made, everyone leaves their agenda at the door and walks forward together. Team members are accountable even if their own idea didn't fly, this time.
'Genuine Harmony' is a higher state of team consciousness that transcends ego and competition. Everyone shares the same values, contributes equally and works together and the team success takes precedence over individual success.
If your team aren't getting along but are operating in a state of 'Genuine Harmony', I say hats off to you as their manager you're doing your job, so keep up the great work!
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Free PDF Download|
Find fear before it finds you - By Trent Leyshan
About the Author: Trent Leyshan
RSS for Trent's articles - Visit Trent's website
Trent Leyshan is founder, CEO of BOOM!
A leading international sales training company that specialises in the development of inspirational sales cultures, leaders and salespeople.
Early in his career Trent was head tradeshow spruiker and sales manager for Australia's most flamboyant TV salesman, Big Kev.
He has since driven two of his own companies from lounge room operations into market leaders. And led sales teams in leading new media and advertising agencies.
Trent is a sought after expert and facilitator on sales performance and strategy. He is the Author of sales book, The Naked Salesman: How to walk the talk and sell your way to success!
BOOM! develops sales training strategies and delivers inspiring learning experiences for some of the world's most successful and demanding sales driven organisations. Empowering them with modern skills and tools to effectively engage with customers and build stronger and more valuable relationships.
Click here to visit Trent's website.
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