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Can Do!

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body youcandoitDo you make excuses or get it done?

We run this article every year because it’s something we all need to hear and think about on a regular basis. For those not old enough to remember, "Can Do" was a popular 50's expression that articulated a nation's conviction that an individual’s will is pretty much all that’s needed to overcome life’s challenges. More than a cliché, "Can Do" is a statement of expectation. Expectation that you can rely on what I say and that I will do whatever needs to be done. Was life really so simple in times past and have we lost that expectation that anything is possible if we want it enough and are willing to work for that goal?

Managers assign work to their associates with an ever-increasing concern as to whether the assigned task will be completed without problems. More and more, people assigned tasks are not performing them in either a timely manner or to completion. This is even more of a problem when that person is also independent. If your company has this problem, whose fault is it, what can you do about it and what are reasonable expectations? Answers to these questions and others are vital to your sales success.

No manager should have to worry that his sales staff, salaried or commissioned, won’t follow clearly articulated instructions; but, they do. Certainly, you must be reasonable in your assignment of tasks in direct proportion to how you compensate an individual. I have no problem assigning tasks to even a fully commissioned individual when it is tied directly to his/her success. Communicating this importance of your expectations is fundamental. Consistency is a key issue for managers to keep in mind. When training new hires, clearly articulate the ground rules…and in writing. Establish the basis for the relationship including goals and expectations, putting all significant issues on the table before problems crop up. Keep surprises to a minimum. Do one more thing—tell the individual, face to face, that you will expect specific performance of agreed upon goals. Next, demonstrate your resolve through your actions. It does no good to state what you expect from the relationship up-front and then never actually hold anybody accountable.

Correcting long-ignored problems can be difficult if not impossible to fix for two reasons:

  1. Associates can’t understand why things that were OK in the past aren’t anymore. There might even be a sense of betrayal!
  2. The Manager is in a no win situation. He looks bad for letting a situation go on too long, plus he loses credibility.

Keep in mind that people perform best when expectations are high, not low. Job satisfaction is highest among persons in high-energy environments that require performance. A manager that does not make sufficient demands of his staff is hoping things will work out and that improvements will magically occur without their intervention. This degree of wishful thinking inevitably leads to poor end-results and eventual employee turnover that might not have happened under stronger leadership.

Mangers are responsible for their department’s results. Given adequate authority and time in their position who else is there to hold accountable? For your own survival, keep in mind that your superiors may be sympathetic for a time, but if you always blame your staff, ultimately, someone is going to figure out that maybe you are the problem. It’s not hard to guess the likely result!

Your advancement and your company's wellbeing are inexorably linked to your ability to get things done on a timely basis. If you have others working for you, delegation is essential. With delegation comes the necessity of requiring performance. If an individual within your group resists taking responsibility it then becomes your job to educate this individual. If you are unsuccessful you then must decide if this person's positive qualities outweigh his negative ones. This is often very difficult for people to do, but necessary nonetheless. Never forget that almost by definition, a manager of people must deal with confrontation. If there is no confrontation, you don’t need the manager! And, don’t make excuses for people who fail to do what is reasonably required of them.

The general lack of a "Can Do" attitude among most people today is truly sad. It is difficult to decide where to lay blame. All that can be said or that needs to be understood is that you hold the key to motivating your own small portion of this world. Therefore, say “Can Do” and get on with it. Good Selling!

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