Thursday, 31 July 2008

Leading the Millennials

As a consultant and speaker in r’evolutionary sales leadership (evolving individuals and organisations through the power of ‘r’ or relationships) it continues to be frustrating to find that, after spending time developing a relationship with sales leaders, they are often incapable of following through on interventions that can make a profound difference to their teams and their productivity.

But a change is coming. With the new evolution of business values to more human values such as co-creation, communication, community, accountability and creativity, sales leaders are starting to hear the message of change. This corresponds with the rise of Generations X and Y and the continuing evolution of the Digital Age.

Sales leaders are starting to see that staff are no longer responding to ‘command and control’ management – people are looking for more meaning and purpose in their work and not just a job, people have less interest in security than in personal mobility today. Jobs are no longer jobs – they are contracts. The old ways of business leadership are changing and the leaders need help.

Thus sales directors and managers must choose to become ‘agents of the r’evolution’ and help to bring about a radical change in attitude about how we engage with today’s new generation of sales people and customers. However, they can only do so if they get courageous and are willing to take risks about presenting radical new ways of working to the senior management of the company.

Playing it safe, using ‘tried and proven’ methods won’t cut it anymore. Sales managers have to get radical, both in selling their message to their teams and finding new ways of engaging and making themselves meaningful to their market place in the new world of work.

Sales leaders have to start actively engaging and promoting the new technologies of the work place. They should be creating company sales/social networks and virtual worker or specialist communities, understanding how technologies like Twitter and virtual world simulations such as can be used to recruit, retain and educate their new sales forces.

Instead of providing generic live trainings, they need to start becoming highly targeted in defining training needs and then, start using more effective, niche-targeted, blended learning methodologies such as DVD, MP3, the Net and effective group and individual mentoring and coaching. (By effective, I mean coaching and mentoring by properly trained staff and not the usual ‘cup of coffee and a staring match’ approach but coaching and mentoring approaches that are pragmatic, meaningful and effective).

It's a new world of work - not only only have we a new generation entering and working in sales today - we have a new generation of customers too. It's time to get into their model of the world to 'future proof' our businesses.

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