Five principles to achieving optimal management productivity

Bill Lee five principles

There are five principles I believe a salesperson should follow in order to be the most productive he or she can be.

  1. If you aren’t measuring it, you are not managing In my experience as an industry consultant, this is the management principle that is most frequently violated.

Any time you overhear managers make productivity statements about the people in their organizations that are not accompanied by measurable expectations, they are guilty of generalizing. In sports there are few objectives for players that are not measurable. The only one that comes to mind is hustle. Players are often criticized for not hustling, but how much effort they are expending is in the eyes of the beholder, which is frequently inaccurate.

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  1. Parkinson’s Law: Activity expands to fill the time allotted for it. Although different from management principle 1, there are similarities. When managers don’t measure organizational productivity by keeping score, their tendency is to rely upon their observations. The cry, “We need more help…” almost always emanates from the workers in the trenches, not from management.

The period immediately following a deep recession is oftentimes a highly productive time for a company because management fears the increase in business ac- tivity might be a flash in the pan versus a time to add more people.

  1. The Law of Effect: Behaviors immediately rewarded increase in frequency while behaviors immediately punished decrease in Timely feedback to your people is one of a manager’s most effective motivators. As Ken Blanchard wrote in The New One-Minute Manager, managers typically get the kind of behavior they reward. The more quickly managers give workers positive feedback (or a slap on wrist) the higher the odds of behavior change.

Try giving the people who report to you a one-minute reprimand when they disappoint you and a one-minute praising when they please you.

  1. The Pareto Principle: The 80/20 While this principle was introduced in the early 1900s, it continues to be one of management’s favorite measurements  in  search of productivity gains. There are multiple applications of this principle, such as, 20% of your inventory generates 80% of your sales; 20% of your salespeople generate 80% of your sales; 80% of your customer complaints come from 20% of your customers, etc. Buyers, for example, are wise to strive to never run out of the 20% of products that generate 80% of company’s sales.
  2. Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will! Most managers will recognize this principle as being the most As a consultant, I often ask clients this question: “If down the road your company were to fail, what do you predict the reason for that failure would be?” In my experience, most managers know where danger lurks, but they don’t take the time to identify the pot holes in the road ahead that, if not repaired, could cause their business to derail.

In my early days in management, it was my job to manage a fairly large inside sales force. Our turnover was horrible. When I would hire enough people to meet our service requirements, I would lose another two or three inside salespeople. Observing me struggling with this issue, one of our senior executives applied the 80/20 rule to my personnel losses. He discovered that 20% of the people I hired were stable, but 80% were the most likely to leave us for another job.

Additional research revealed that the 80% were transplants who had recently moved into our community and 20% were natives who had set goals to work in their hometown. By targeting more candidates who were native to our community, I was immediately able to eliminate the turn-over I had been experiencing.

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