CEO Blog

Category Archives: Management

Manage Your Anger

Anger quote by Evan EsarAnger is sometimes confused with passion.  Passion is an emotion that successful people harness to drive their ambitions.  Anger is a different emotion (sometimes because people are passionate) and it can be a very negative emotion.

“Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.”     Mitch Albom

I might not be the best role model for this discussion, but I can say that I have improved my self-control over the years, and learned that anger really doesn’t help anything.

That doesn’t mean I don’t get angry, it just means that I work hard at harnessing that anger and ensuring that any reaction is a reasoned one.

“Get mad, then get over it.”   Colin Powell

Here are a few thoughts on the subject:

  1. If something upsets you make sure you truly understand all of the facts before reacting.
  2. If someone upsets you then try to address that person alone, rather than have the discussion in public.
  3. If you are upset then do not write something that you may regret. A common trick is to write the response, then delete it before it goes anywhere.
  4. Time has a way of making us look at things a little differently … take some time to let the emotion reduce.
  5. If you need to respond to someone or something, then get a second/third opinion from a trusted advisor before proceeding.
  6. Given enough time, anger will often pass, and a response is not necessary.
  7. A measured, calm response will elicit a better result than “flying off the handle”.
  8. Too often the issue is miscommunication leading to a misunderstanding.
  9. Give people the benefit of the doubt.
  10. There is way too much real conflict in the world … we don’t need to look for more battles for no good reason.

There is a fairly common phrase … “Be slow to anger and quick to forgive”. Not bad advice to live by!

Of course, if after enough time and sufficient consideration, the anger is absolutely justified, then it is worth remembering the words from The Godfather, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?

Make Fact-Based Decisions

Drucker quote about decision makingManagement is not an exact science and all too often we are forced to make decisions without all of the facts.  Even though we have incomplete data it is always preferable to be decisive.  The worst that can happen is that the decision proves to be wrong and a “course correction” is required.  That is far preferable to never making a decision … because that way nothing ever happens!

In recent years we have seen an increase in the use of “analytic tools” in business, that provide facts based on the data available.  This is an attempt to make decision making better, by providing supporting data in a timely and useful manner.

Today I want to talk about the “facts” that we DO use to make our decisions, and the need to ensure that they truly are facts, and not errors, perceptions, prejudices or other people’s agendas!

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”  Aldous Huxley

The problem comes when managers make decisions that are unfairly influenced, in most cases by what I will call “non facts’.

Some examples might be:

  • Other people’s opinions or “agendas”;
  • wrong data;
  • Our own prejudices;
  • Perceived facts such as “there were a lot of times …”; or he was “always doing …”; and
  • Misunderstood situations, where the whole facts were not discovered.

So, it is critical that leaders ensure they are using actual FACTS.  These could be contract terms and conditions; approved financial reports; validated information from multiple trusted sources; or even facts witnessed personally (and FULLY understood).

Never forget there are two sides to every story; some people lie; some people embellish; and we all have our own prejudices.

“Using the power of decision gives you the capacity to get past any excuse to change any and every part of your life in an instant.”  Anthony Robbins

Stick to REAL facts when making decisions.

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?



Upgrade Your Team

Phil Jackson quote about teamsEvery company wants, and needs, to attract the best people that it can.

Good companies will invest in those people, empower them and hold them accountable for their performance.  As time goes by it becomes evident which of the people are top performers, which people are performing at an acceptable level and also the people who are not performing become identified.

“Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it. Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine.”   David Ogilvy

There are lots of reasons why people don’t perform, ranging from attitude problems to lack of training or skills, to the fact that they are just in the wrong job.

Managers will inevitably find themselves spending a significant amount of their time on people management, dealing with the non-performers and their various personnel issues.

Good companies will work with these people to try and fix the situation, and sometimes things turn around and sometimes they don’t.

It is important to both company and employee to resolve these situations quickly, so both can find the right solution moving forward.  If someone is in the wrong job, it is far better that they move on and find a place where they can succeed.  It is also a huge bonus for a manager, and consequently the company, to replace a “problem employee” with a top performer!

“Often the best solution to a management problem is the right person.”  Edwin Booz

In today’s world of skills shortages it is tough to find those top performers, so when opportunity arises it is smart to take advantage.

Some thoughts:

  1. You need to act quickly to manage non-performers out, unless they are working hard to fix things, or you are doing no-one any favors.
  2. Don’t try to keep marginal performers who choose to leave … there is always a better option out there.
  3. Hiring and firing decisions are business decisions, not “popularity contests”, don’t hire or fire JUST because you like or dislike someone.
  4. Any time you upgrade your team (replace lower performer with higher performer) you are magnifying the positive impact on your business because it also increases management efficiency.
  5. A positive improvement to a team will also have a positive impact on the rest of the team. People know when others are not pulling their weight.

“Get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus.” Jim Collins

So, take advantage of market conditions and other opportunities that allow you to improve your team.  Expect a short term impact, but as long as you are upgrading the benefits will be huge!

“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”  Red Adair

Final (slightly self-serving) thought … the price of professional help in finding those great people is a very small price to pay, so work with your friendly staffing company!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?

Building Confidence – 10 Tips Beyond the Obvious

Colin Powell thoughts on successI can relate to Colin Powell’s quote and thought  I could share a few tips from some failures over my fairly long career to date!  Now all you have to do is (a) prepare and (b) put in the work!

We all have times when we are a little uncertain.  It could be because you are in a little slump, it might be a tough negotiation coming up, you might be giving a talk in front of an audience or you might have a job interview.

“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”  Henry Ford

Whatever the situation, there are things that you can do to help settle the nerves, project an air of confidence and at a minimum put your best foot forward.

Of course the biggest and best thing you can do is to prepare, do your homework, know your material and think through how you will handle any tough questions.  Doing the work is not a guarantee of success, but not doing the work is pretty much guaranteed to be a disaster!

“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.”  Confucius

Beyond the obvious, there are things that you can do to bolster your confidence:

  1. Be well rested. Partying hard the night before a tough event is not recommended.  (Party after for sure!)
  2. Give yourself lots of time to be where you need to be, without the stress of missing or almost missing your event.
  3. Wear clothes that make you feel good! Better yet treat yourself to something new for the event!
  4. Get a haircut, a manicure, a pedicure … whatever works for you.
  5. If it’s a speech practice a lot … in front of a mirror, in front of your partner etc.  If it’s a negotiation or meeting of some kind practice answering the tough questions that you might anticipate.
  6. Pump yourself up by remembering all of your similar successes.
  7. Do not focus on any other issues or problems immediately prior to this event.
  8. Try to avoid any negative people in your life immediately prior to this event.
  9. Talk to as many of the positive people you know leading up to the event.
  10. Smile! Think of good things that make you smile … we always feel better when we smile!

“Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.”  Francesca Reigler

Now … go get ‘em!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?

Rescuing Salespeople from a Slump

Quote start to be great by ZiglarOne of the things that makes the sales profession tough is that you are only as good as your current performance, which is very measurable!  It becomes very obvious when a salesperson is not being successful and in addition to the obvious lack of numbers there is a tendency to spiral downwards.

The formerly motivated, energetic and productive salesperson descends into a funk!  They lose that energy, they seem “adrift”, unmotivated and not sure what to do next.

Where they had previously been very focused on their role, they are easily distracted focusing on activities that are “busy” tasks, rather than delivering business!

Their productivity is easily measured, but it will be not just the bottom line that suffers.  There will be less phone calls, less meetings and less orders coming in.

Essentially they will give up, and either start a job search or  just wait for the axe to fall when their employer loses patience.

These times can happen for many reasons … it might be a general turn down in the economy, an impact on that salesperson’s specific territory or they just become too comfortable and neglect the fundamentals!

In sales we reap what we sow, and if we sow a little less this week we will feel the negative effects next week … that is the start of a really slow spiral downwards!

Luckily … a good sales manager will recognize the pattern and understand that action is needed!  They need to find a way to get their salesperson back into the rhythm, to move from Ineffective to Effective!

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”  Vince Lombardi

The first step is for the salesperson to admit to themselves that they are in trouble, but also they need to be willing to do the work that will get them back on track.  The “lucky” salespeople will inevitably be those who put the work in!

“The harder I work, the more luck I have.” Thomas Jefferson

The salesperson needs to have a plan that has clear activities, timelines and goals.  The way to get to these actions is to ask a lot of questions.

  1. How many key contacts does the salesperson have?
  2. Have they all been contacted lately?
  3. Is there a method to bring those contacts value over and above the service they pay for?
  4. Where are the opportunities?
  5. What are the key messages that will resonate in today’s climate?
  6. How many meetings can the salesperson generate?
  7. Who else could get in front of clients to generate interest?
  8. What networking does the salesperson do? Is it enough and in the right places?
  9. How many ways does the salesperson keep in contact with their prospects? Email, phone, in person, hand written cards, social media?
  10. What can the salesperson do differently that will spark a different and motivating approach?  This could be a change in hours, work location, even a change in look (a new wardrobe can help with confidence).
  11. Is there training/coaching available that will keep the salesperson motivated?

A good manager asking these questions can help the salesperson to identify many ways in which they can get re-motivated.

Get some new crisp shirts and start wearing a tie … just to feel good about yourself.   A female rep might buy some new clothes, shoes, accessories … whatever makes them feel good!

“Today is always the most productive day of your week.” Mark Hunter

Change up your hours, come in a little earlier/stay a little later to get the momentum going!

Call clients at specific times and see which times work best for which clients.  Some people like to start early and others like to stay late.

Start a campaign of hand written cards with simple messages.  These should be hand written (no excuses about poor writing … slow down and write nicely!) and have a personal note.

“Stop selling.  Start helping.”  Zig Ziglar

Share valuable information with these people … industry articles and white papers, statistics and facts, book summaries and market data are just some ideas.

Establish a rhythm for meeting with people and track it in the company CRM.  Some clients should be contacted more often than others.  Some like mostly email, others prefer voice.  Establish a regular face to face routine.

Re-establish links with old contacts.  Former clients of the salesperson or the company.  Alumni from school or previous jobs, or even ex-employees of this company.

Find new contacts.  Get referrals, network more, cold call (yes I suggested the “cold call” … but in the 21st century that may be through outbound/inbound marketing techniques).

Establish a routine that ensures the work happens without interruption.  Do not take unrelated phone calls, or address unrelated emails … be very focused on this activity.

Set goals for numbers of calls, meetings and expected outcomes … new orders, and closed business!

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” Abraham Lincoln

This level of activity should develop a tangible momentum, resulting in some successes.  This in turn will give a confidence boost, which will be seen in a return to the successful salesperson you knew they could be!

“Confidence and enthusiasm are the greatest sales producers in any economy.”  O B Smith

The trick once the momentum is going, is not to slack off!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?

It Is More Important to HAVE Goals Than to Reach Them!

Aim for the moon!That seems like a contradictory thing to say, why would it be OK to miss our goals?  What is the point of having goals if we are not going to meet them?

Goals are a way to focus our efforts, in a direction that makes sense to us … today.

Along the way “stuff happens” some of which we plan for, some of which we do not.  Some of that stuff will be negative and some of it will be positive.

THAT “stuff” will determine where we go next!

I believe that if you asked ANY super successful person today whether their goals looked exactly like where they ended up they would have to admit that the result looks very different than what they expected.

I also believe that for many of them, they far exceeded their expectations.

When I left school I wanted to be a car mechanic, and that quickly morphed into an aircraft mechanic when I joined the Royal Navy.  My plans at that time saw me moving up the ranks, but did not even contemplate a move into the officer ranks.

When I became a computer programmer my goals would have seen me move into the management ranks, but not even an executive level.

My move into a sales role saw my ambitions grow, as I saw that as a chance to reach an executive level.

Never in any of these transitions did I see myself as a business owner.

Stuff happens along the route of life that we can take and use.

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”  Charles R. Swindoll

We use goals to have somewhere to aim, that is hopefully a better place than where we are today.  Some people will naturally aim higher than others.

“If you don’t know where you are going any road will get you there.” Lewis Carroll

So, as you go through life you should set yourself some goals.

  1. The more specific the better.
  2. Put a time frame on them.
  3. Be ambitious with your goals.
  4. Expect change.
  5. Review your goals regularly to see if you are going in the right direction and adjust your tactics.

Setting a goal gives you something to aim for … even if you hit something else, it is likely to take you in the right direction!!!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?————————————————————————————————————————————

Momentum Helps ALL Aspects of Your Life

Momentum quote from Anthony RobbinsAs a young salesperson I would be told that I needed to create and maintain a momentum for each sales situation.  What that actually meant  was a bit of a mystery to me for a while, but over time I began to understand the power of that advice.

Very often you will hear an old salesperson say that they “feel” something wrong.  What they are actually feeling is the loss of momentum in a sale.  The client response is no longer urgent; their interest does not seem as strong; decisions are not happening; and it is difficult to get answers.

The best salespeople understand that it is their responsibility to keep the interest high, but also to quickly recognise when the sale is slipping away.  The earlier you understand that the sale is not going to happen, the less time will be wasted by everybody concerned.  That is all about understanding the momentum of a sale.

“Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now. “  Denis Waitely

That same philosophy applies to many situations in our lives.

Certainly starting and running a business requires there to be a momentum … and that momentum needs to be nurtured and grown.  A loss of momentum is a sign that things are not right, hopefully an early enough warning that there needs to be change.  The best business owners try to create and maintain momentum without ever reaching that point!

Relationships need momentum .  When we start to take relationships for granted they start to wither, and if we are not careful we find ourselves losing friends and even getting divorced.

Our careers need momentum.  We need to be growing and learning, getting better at what we do.  The world is changing around us, new technology, new competitors, new people entering the workforce with new ideas … and we need to keep working at our skills to stay competitive, and even to remain relevant.

Creating and maintaining momentum requires effort.

We need a plan.

We need a series of action items that will get us to our target and by executing on those action items we create and maintain a momentum.

It may seem a little weird to approach relationships that way, but it works!  We have many ways to invest in our important relationships.  It can be as simple as spending time with people, or doing some small thing to show you appreciate them.  It could a regular date night or a special gift.  We don’t think of these as tasks, or as creating momentum … but it is a way to make sure we are investing in those important relationships.  By thinking of it that way we can stay alert to the momentum in our relationships!

Salespeople build momentum in many ways.  They need to find ways to bring value to their clients, build on their relationships, keep building credibility and truly solving their client’s needs.  Things go off the rails when salespeople are not well entrenched in the client’s decision process, don’t understand who the influencers are, don’t know their competition, make assumptions about client needs etc.  There are always a million things a salesperson can be doing to create and build momentum.  A salesperson wondering what they should be doing next is a salesperson in need of some training!  They should be running from task to task, keeping as much momentum in as many sales situations as possible!

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan.  And guess what they have planned for you?  Not much.”  Jim Rohn

The whole concept of momentum can be applied to every aspect of our lives, every day … and if we can keep all of the important parts of our life moving in the right direction we feel more in control and the result will be good.

Are you keeping the momentum in the important parts of your life?

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?

Develop Your Curiosity

Curiosity quote by EinsteinWikipedia describes curiosity as: (from Latin curiosus “careful, diligent, curious,” akin to cura “care”) is a quality related to inquisitive thinking such as exploration, investigation, and learning, evident by observation in human and animal species. Curiosity is heavily associated with all aspects of human development, in which derives the process of learning and desire to acquire knowledge and skill.

I would suggest that curiosity is an under-rated trait that is present in almost any successful person that I know!

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”  Voltaire

This is one “skill” that can be developed … and can be hugely useful in both your career and your personal life.

For example, it is a strongly held belief that great leaders do not accept the “status quo”.  They are continually looking for ways to get better, to improve the process, to reduce the costs and to be more efficient.  A great way to do that is to be curious, and to truly understand why things are the way they are, because when you understand it well you have a decent chance of improving it!

“It is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” Max De Pree

Let’s talk about relationships, both business and personal.  The number one way to start a relationship is to be curious about the other person!  By asking questions we get to know people better, and conversation flows easier leading to an easier relationship which might develop into friendship.  So, whether you are networking for business or meeting socially … being curious is a great way to “get ahead”!

“You can make more friends in two months by being interested in other people than in two years of trying to get people interested in you.”  Dale Carnegie

Work at it!

Consciously start to ask more questions.

Work at developing better questions.

Set yourself a goal to learn something new every day … by asking questions.

If you are hiring people, look for those who are curious … they will WANT to learn!

Are you good at getting people to open up, by asking good questions?

Do you agree that curiosity is a valuable skill?

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?

Eleven Thoughts About Keeping It Simple

Peter Drucker quote about useless efficiencyYou would think it fairly obvious that the more complex a solution is to a problem, the bigger the chance of failure.  Yet we often over complicate our lives, our businesses and the problems, both small and large, that we are trying to solve.

We see the risks all the time with BIG projects … they take longer, cost more and generally don’t do what they set out to do.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do big projects … big “things” still need to get done.  Maybe it means going about it differently,  OR maybe it just means setting different expectations.

What I am talking about is our (Human beings) penchant for over complicating things.

In business that could be as simple as striving to solve a perceived issue with a technology solution … when perhaps all that was needed was a common sense change in process.  It is like when the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, it is amazing how often a hammer is the answer to your problems.  Sometimes we have business issues that don’t need the IT department to solve them, when all it might take would be a sign in sheet at reception to track the 5 visitors a day or a manual log to track the 2 cash transactions a week!

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”  Albert Einstein

Some random thoughts about “keeping it simple”:

  1. Ask yourself if a proposed solution really NEEDS to be technology based, or is there a more simple way?
  2. Do you really NEED a room full of people in a meeting to discuss a solution?
  3. Are you trying to solve a systemic issue, or are you reacting to a “one off”?
  4. If you are looking at a computer solution that needs to be built from scratch, have you considered the possibility that buying an off the shelf solution that solves 80% of your needs and requires some in house change to your processes might actually be a better way to go.  (Shooting myself in the foot with this one … we LOVE big development projects that need contractors!)
  5. Even if you need to have great time management skills, you do NOT need complex tools … keep it simple.  Calendar; TO DO List; and Goals.  Paper or electronic … whatever works for you!
  6. If you are doing strategic planning, account planning or any kind of business planning it is easy to let things get complex.  Simple plans get executed, complex plans … not so much!  Break it down into manageable “bite sized” pieces that are easily executed!
  7. Decide what is important for you in your life, and focus on those things.  Don’t be distracted by all of the million other things that you COULD do, or COULD have!
  8. Sometimes the most direct approach is the easiest … it is easy to over think situations.
  9. Communicate using words everyone can understand.
  10. There is an old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words“.
  11. Bonus … and perhaps the easiest answer.  Ask yourself if someone elsewhere already solved your problem.

“Complexity is your enemy.  Any fool can make something complicated.  It is hard to make something simple.”  Richard Branson

It’s About the Client NOT About You! (More Sales 101)

sales attitude quote by  w clement stoneIn my ongoing series devoted to the sales profession I am focusing today on subject that I know resonates with clients.  It is also a subject that I remember struggling with as a young salesperson.

Sales calls need to be about the client, not about you, your company,  your product or service.

“Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.”  Seth Godin

We get taught this early … but then we get inundated with training about our product or service; our differentiators; our  key messages; our pricing discounts; our elevator pitch and any other number of things that we are supposed to talk to clients about.

There is not a lot of time spent on the client side of things.  Perhaps the assumption is that we will identify a potential client and they will be so happy to see another salesperson that they will just sit and listen to our wonderful pitches and obviously write a cheque?  (Excuse my cynicism here).

“Make the customer’s problem your problem.“  Shep Hyken

So what is it that we should be doing?

“A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he knows something.”  Wilson Mizner

I don’t profess to have all the answers, but here are some thoughts to be going on with:

  1. We all know what assumptions do … so NEVER assume that the person you are talking with has the same exact problem as the last person you talked with.
  2. You need to get a prospective client talking about their business issues, that relate to your product or service.  One way to achieve this is with an agenda (as previously discussed) that outlines the kind of issues that might be relevant.
  3. The great salesperson will get their client talking, and will listen carefully (without interrupting).
  4. A salesperson needs to establish some credibility with a client.  This can be achieved in many ways, and might have been partially achieved because the client granted the meeting.  Credibility might be proven by bringing appropriate knowledge to the meeting, or perhaps experiences of similar clients.  It might be because of the company credibility, or through a referral.   If you leave the meeting having never established some credibility your chances of ever coming back are diminished.
  5. A salesperson should try to establish some rapport with the client.  Again this can come in many different “flavors” and can be a personal type of rapport or a professional type of rapport … depending upon your own style.
  6. Salespeople need to know when they are talking too much.  We tend to get excited and then we talk, and talk … and talk!  Watch for the glazed over eyes, but better yet have a watch in front of you that tells you how long you have been talking.
  7. If you did your sales training well, then you will have goals for the meeting … but don’t meet your goals at the expense of the client.  Understand what goals the client might have, and help them to meet their goals.
  8. You need to be able to have a peer to peer conversation with the client about the subject of the meeting.  You must be confident or you will lose that hard earned credibility.  Always remember that this is your area of expertise, and most likely just one of many areas your client needs to address.  If you feel out of your depth then take a manager!
  9. If you have something of interest to the client then establish next steps before leaving the meeting.  Once you lose their attention they will be focused on the 101 other priorities on their desk.
  10. Always follow up.  Thank the client for the meeting.  Meet any obligations made in the meeting.  If possible send something of value such as relevant market data, relevant articles or subject matter knowledge that will help the client.

“If you are not taking care of your customer, your competitor will.”  Bob Hooey

By delivering value to our clients we will eventually become winners!

“All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust.”  Bob Burg

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?