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Pointing The Wrong Finger

Pointing the Wrong Finger

After a quiet few minutes of contemplation, Rob said, “We just need to let Steve go.  He’s just not pulling his weight.”  A few heads nodded, but Joe spoke up.  “Steve isn’t the issue.  Our sales process is unpredictable, impossible to scale, inconsistent, and unprofitable.  In other words, it’s broken.  How can we blame Steve for failing inside a bad system?”

We’ve all been there before; frustrated when the folks we’ve invested time and money into are not meeting expectation.  There are certainly times when we clearly don’t have the right people, but it’s much easier to blame a person than it is to look in the mirror and admit we’ve shunned the accountability and effort required to develop a process that works.  Robert Pryor, author of Lean Selling, says it well:

“Far too often, when things don’t go as planned, the first place we as managers look to find problems is with the people responsible for delivering the goods.  This occurs even though these same people seemed to be performing just fine in the past.  And why is it that so many of them have gone bad all at the same time?  This management tendency is particularly prevalent when it comes to sales.

In my experience, more often than not the problem is not primarily with the people, but with the process (or lack of one).  Most business outputs, including sales, are the result of a process.  A defective or poorly designed process will yield less-than-satisfactory results, even if you have great people.”

Much of that shunning stems from our perspective that developing “process” is a pain in the… but it doesn’t have to be.  There is a very simple and effective way to develop process if we’re willing to practice “less is more.”

Here’s a 6-step process for developing process:

  1. Choose one of your 6-10 core processes that takes place daily in your business
  2. Gather the folks who are directly responsible for executing on that particular process and schedule a 60 minute meeting with them
  3. In that meeting, Identify the three primary steps in the process
  4. In that meeting, Identify three secondary steps within each of the three primary steps
  5. In that meeting, get it printed on one page of paper
  6. Immediately following that meeting, distribute it to everyone who is accountable for using that process

You just completed in 60 minutes what you’ve been avoiding for months, if not years.  Don’t worry… I’ve avoided it in my business too, but now you have a process documented and on track to be followed by all.  Consider doing this once a month for each process you have.  Within a year, every core process will be defined and documented. 

The real value of this exercise is you now have a clear, communicated process that will guide those who use it and allow you to measure how effective folks are in their roles. 

When the next people issue arises, you can clearly define it as a people issue instead of an underlying process issue, and work to coach your team member into the process or move him/her to a different seat.

To learn more about how effective you feel the process component of your business is, complete our Organizational Checkup.

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