Building a Top-Performing Sales Team
Successful sales teams don’t happen by chance; building a top-performing sales organization requires a high degree of talent nurturing. Here, we’ll explore how to develop a winning sales team.
Today’s workforce is more diverse than it’s ever been before. The modern workplace is a collective of individuals from diverse backgrounds — race, culture, language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and age. Ideally, this diversity fosters increased productivity, morale, and a competitive edge. However, a diverse workplace also makes the jobs of managers and human resources much more challenging, owing to the seeming inevitability of generational conflict.
Let’s face it: bias exists. Many of your employees very likely have some preconceived notions about those Boomers or those ‘kids today.’ This can lead to problems that affect company culture, collaboration, and work outcomes. Confronting generational stereotypes is all the more problematic when some of those tags are true. Many Boomers are set in their ways and dislike new technologies (or at least having to train for them). There are also Millennials still living with their parents. And Gen Xers might not care to work with either of them.
Here, we’ll outline some steps that managers can take to confront generational conflicts as gently as possible — but as effective as necessity demands. Generational differences are hardly the source of all workplace conflicts. However, by developing effective strategies for nurturing a diverse sales team, you’ll find that you can use a similar approach to deal with many of the issues that arise within your team.
Arguably, the greatest point of contention for managers in today’s workforce is having multiple generations working together. For the first time in history, up to five distinct generations are operating side by side: Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y (Millennials) — and Zoomers (Gen Z) aren’t too far behind. Multigenerational workplaces aren’t a new phenomenon, yet the number of diverse generations has increased and have been distinctly defined by the pre, peri and post. Managers are faced with the challenge of managing so many different needs, motivations, goals and values.
Diversity offers an amazingly rich opportunity for fresh ideas and insights. Having a good understanding of the different perspectives of each generation will give managers a better foundation for relating to their team and motivating them.
As a leader, you can employ several strategies to bridge the gap between generations and leverage strengths and perspectives.
The American Society for Public Administration conducted a multigenerational study in the workforce and concluded that there are, in fact, significant similarities among these generations. The following values transcend the generational gap:
Getting people to work well together is a crucial skill for any manager. Your sales team very likely brims with individuals with strong personalities, views and beliefs. The beliefs of one generational group are going to clash with another — possibly on a daily basis. How do you set the tone for a collaborative work environment? How do you hold people accountable for supporting a healthy workplace culture?
It’s easier to hold your employees accountable when you provide them with training about how to confront one another in healthy ways, manage their personal beliefs in the public space of work, and promote respect despite profound differences. Let’s be clear; the conflicts born out of generational differences manifest themselves in many ways. Take politics. Boomers are more likely to be conservatives. In the last election, Gen Xers and Millennials leaned left, according to the Pew Research Center. Those right and left ideals are likely to clash unless you instruct your team about leaving their politics at home.
The same-old, same-old mentoring program isn’t your best bet for diffusing generational conflict. Gen Xers and Millennials have had it up to their eyeballs with Boomers and their experience. Boomers do have experience, but they don’t know it all, and allowing them to retain all the power positions (chief mentor) is not only a source for conflict, but not even effective. Why? Boomers aren’t typically your best candidates for technology learning. Why not create partnerships instead whereby your staffers mentor one another in different regards. Call it mutual mentoring, if you will. Pairing different generations together can help them get to know one another better but will help them share valuable skills that both sides need. Also, when assigning projects, be sure to include a generational cross-section to nurture improved communication between your generational groups.
Be sure that you also consider your recruitment strategies to support your generationally diverse team. Try to strike a healthy balance between the generations just as you strive to maintain some balance between genders. Also, adjust your interviewing process. Ask all your candidates to discuss their favorite things about other generations. Get a feel for their biases, in order words. A candidate who is heavily biased isn’t an ideal candidate.
We mentioned stereotypes and how some people seem to embody them. Nevertheless, as a manager, it’s important for you to avoid treating people as if they embody the traits of their generation. Treat them as they are and customize your approach to suit their unique traits. You will absolutely work with a Gen Z who seems like a Boomer. There are lots of Gen Xers with Boomer traits too. Respect begins with an individual approach so that each staff member understands their value to the team.