Succeeding with the Bottom 10%

I found a great article on how to succeed with the bottom 10% of your employees.

This was written by Dan Rockwell on his blog titled: Leadership Freak

Every organization has a bottom 10% of employees, leaders, and managers who perform poorly.

Your goal, if you can’t remove the bottom 10% is to maximize the situation.

Distributing poor performers throughout your organization.png

7 reasons for poor performance:

  1. Negative environments where managers are dictatorial, disconnected, or incompetent.
  2. Leadership that tolerates poor performers.
  3. No honor for high performers. Organizations that give across the board raises encourage poor performance.
  4. Lack of connection with colleagues.
  5. Lack of commitment to do well.
  6. Talent or skill deficit.
  7. Distraction because of personal issues.

Succeeding with the bottom 10%:

  1. Address it; don’t ignore it. In many ways, leaders get what they tolerate. Successful leaders address issues others ignore.
  2. Commit to building an environment that promotes and honors high achievement.

Clutch Performers

David Price“Clutch performers are those who can relax in stressful situations”

-Richard Elmes

David Price, in his Toronto Blue Jays debut showed remarkable poise, in escaping a 4th inning jam where the Minnesota Twins had the bases loaded with none out, without giving up a run.

When it is clutch time in any situation, whether it be on the baseball diamond, family crisis or boardroom negotiations, the ones who thrive are the ones who can relax and perform the same way they do when the pressure is less.

On all stages of life, these clutch performers are worth their weight in gold.

If you have one of these folks on your team, treat them well, because they tend to be in high demand and if you don’t treat them well, there are many others that are willing to, and reap the rewards.

Profits vs. People: The Key to Reducing Employee Turnover

After writing the post titled: The Key to Reducing Employee Turnover I found this quote from Mary Kay Ash founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, one of the largest and most successful direct selling organizations in the world:

“Of course I’m concerned about profits and losses. I just don’t give them top priority. If you treat people right, they will work more efficiently and the profits will come in.” – Mary Kay Ash

It sounds like smart advice from a very smart business leader.

Why most Companies have it all Wrong

You have seen it in the movies and the same scene is played out in companies all over the world. You know the one that I am talking about. The scene where some Sales Manager is screaming at their Sales Rep, saying something like;

“I need that report on their desk before they get in the next morning and they don’t care if you have to stay all night to finish it.” or,

“You need to get out there and pound the pavement and don’t come back until you have an order in your hand.”

I often shake my head and wonder if these managers realize that they don’t have a clue.

They don’t realize that by putting too much pressure on their Sales Rep they will hinder their performance.

They don’t realize that they are negatively effecting their own earning potential.

And they also don’t realize that the real boss in any organization is its customers.

“The closer you are to those customers the more important you are to the organization.” – Richard Elmes

Sales professionals and Customer Service reps are the ones that are out connecting with prospects and bringing in the business that, in reality, is paying the bills for everyone else in the organization.

Which makes me wonder, why are so many people in organizations running around, trying to please their bosses (supervisors) when they should be trying to please the real boss (their customers).

Good leaders realize that everyone job in the organization is to support the people who connect with the customers. 

And great leaders realize that in order to maximize the effectiveness of their frontline staff their job is to remove the barriers that prevent them from doing their job.

In essence, close the Sales Prevention department in their organization.  You know the department that effects everyone, but doesn’t make it onto the org chart.

And speaking of the organization chart, great companies should flip them around and include the real boss (the customer on the top) and the person who supports the most people (the CEO) on the bottom.

Or how about enlarging a copy of a paycheque that is signed “The Customer” and displaying it where everyone can see it.

What kind of message do you think these suggestions would send throughout your organization? (Try them for yourself)

I believe it would send the message that the customer is king/queen and we are all in the business of serving him/her (And not some self-important manager).

Go get ’em tiger: How to set your new Sales Rep up for failure

Imagine you are hired as a new salesperson and on your first day after a brief orientation, your Sales Manager gives you a little pep talk that goes something like this:

“The customers are out there… all you need to do is go out and find them.”

Then after he loads you up with product literature and business cards, he finishes his pep talk with,

“Go get ’em tiger.”

Sounds silly doesn’t it.

Unfortunately, many companies orientation program for new sales reps is not much different.

Sure they may spend a little time on product knowledge training. And maybe a little on how to write up and enter an order into the company’s computer system. But for many companies a formal sales training program designed to help their sales professionals succeed is not existant.

Or worse, it is so old and boring that nobody uses it.

The number one concern organizations have when investing in sales training is the cost. They think that developing a new program or revamping an existing one is going to be expensive.

What they don’t consider is the cost of having an untrained salesperson in the field.

  • The high cost of the negative marketing: The negative impression that the customer has of not only the sales representative, but your company. Untrained sales person tends to make a lot of mistakes and often a fool of themself, because they don’t know what they are doing or talking about. 
  • The high cost of turnover: Salespeople will only struggle so long, getting rejected over and over again, before they will seek out easier challenges. Turnover costs can range anywhere from 30-150% of an employees annual compensation.
  • The high cost of loss sales: The difference between winning and losing in business (especially sales) can be extreemly small, but the compensation is significant. An untrained sales person will lose out to the trained professional more often than not. This can be the difference between sales growth or sales decline. Between having a positive cash flow or going into debt. Between having a to expand, or laying off employees.

Effective sales training can be help your organization bridge that gap by:

  • Improving Credibility with your customer base: Customers love to work with professionals who are trying to help them succeed, not amateurs who are looking at them as a car payment.
  • Reducing Turnover of staff: Long-term employees have the opportunity to build a relationship and get to know what they need. This is attractive to customers who like to buy from people they trust.

Trust = Credibility  and Credibility = Sales

  • Improving Sales: Increasing the credibility of your sales professionals (and your company) will open the door for more opportunities, which will lead to more sales , which will lead to more revenue.

Just think of difference it would make to a new sales professional, when they enter the field confident that they know what they are doing, what they are talking about and how they can help their customers.

Armed with this knowledge and skills skill you will be motivated and prepared for success.

Then you really will be able to; “Go get’em tiger.”

Note: If this opening story hit a little too close to home or you want to explore how you can arm your Sales Professionals for success, email me at and together we can explore how improve your team’s sales performance.