“Employees are not hugely motivated by their employer’s reasons for change.”
As askaris continue to check our body temperatures, so too employers should, their sales people’s emotional temperatures. This article is for those employers that have chosen to retain their sales force in this crisis.
We may be mentally settling into the acceptance stage of change, but we’re still living in times of uncertainty. For employees this requires a mental rewiring to a foreign domestic and professional front. At the domestic front, their children (and possibly a recently jobless spouse) are at home. Adapting to this new emotion churning home environment presents a much more immediate threat to productivity than the possibility of infection from the pesky virus. Professionally, the salesperson knows friends, colleagues, family members and other sales people that have lost their jobs, and is in silent agony about the possibility of losing his. With this emotional dispensation, self-preservation kicks in.
And contrary to what most employers think, when this happens, the seller doesn’t get his second wind and put his nose to the grindstone. That’s what the employer, thinking like a businessman, would do. As a McKInsey and Company report says, “Employees are not hugely motivated by their employer’s reasons for change.” Further, “Value of change to the employee is in contrast to value to the employer and could go beyond the organization to say the customer, or community.” In this case, it goes to self. For most employees they freeze in place or forever dread the worst. Others start looking for solutions outside the organization. Neither of these emotional frames are accelerators for productivity; if anything they are productivity dampeners. For instance, living month to month, an unusual delay in salary doesn’t make the employee work harder. No. It just shifts his emotional attention to the envisaged consequences of delayed bill payments.
This is why it is not enough for the employer to harp on, “You should be grateful you still have a job and sell.” What the seller hears instead is “I knew it. I’ll get fired”, which only energizes that fear. Regularly dialling into their emotional heath is more productive. Does it slow things down? Yes. But like a taxing plane revving its engine to take off, this slowing down speeds things up. As any effective sales manager will admit, in times of certainty, keeping a pulse on his salespeople’s emotional health, and them feeling it, is a key component to building a successful sales team. Show me a detached sales manager and I’ll show you an orphaned, ineffective sales team. How much more then, the need to dip the emotional thermometer now and then, to check on how the sales team member is keeping in these times of uncertainty?
So, whereas permanent and pensionable employment is a rumour today and coddling is certainly not an option, some semblance of assurance by the employer even if it’s the regular dialling into the employee emotional well-being at this time, is necessary to boost productivity.