Tips and Techniques to Manage Difficult People

Keep the Team Focussed on Outcomes

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It’s very important to focus on outcomes as far as your team are concerned.  Sometimes the people in your team will beMulti-ethnic business group


only too happy to do other little jobs and tasks that distract them from their outcomes.


I’ve had salespeople say – ‘Oh, I’ll deliver that to the customer, it’s on my way.’


Customer service people will say – ‘I’ll go and talk to distribution or finance department about that.’


You have to keep asking yourself the question: ‘Is what they’re doing helping me to achieve my outcomes?’ If the answer is ‘no’ then don’t let them do it. If the answer is yes, then let them continue.


Make it clear to your team what the outcomes are, but don’t concern yourself too much about how they get there.


Now that doesn’t mean that you encourage a salesman to get a sale at any cost, or a chef to use inferior ingredients. And you obviously don’t want a maintenance engineer cutting corners that could jeopardize safety.


However it does mean using the thinking part of your brain, and listening to your inbuilt programs. Your people may not do a job the way you would do it but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong.


I’ve often listened to a salesperson speaking to a customer and found myself thinking – ‘That’s not the way I’d do it.’ The temptation then, is to jump into the conversation or speak to the salesperson afterwards.


However I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut, because many times the salesperson closed the business, the customer was happy and it probably was better than I would do it.


I checked into a hotel recently and as I signed the paperwork the bubbly receptionist complimented me on my cologne. She asked what kind it was so that she might buy some for her boyfriend.


Now I know this hotel chain and this isn’t part of the welcoming speech. I also know that some managers would discourage this level of familiarity between staff and customers.


But I’ll tell you something as a customer – I loved it, she certainly brightened my day! Her response was far better than some of the stuffy robotic greetings you get from most receptionists at the major hotel chains.


This receptionist had made me a happy customer and if I owned this hotel that’s an outcome I would want.


Southwest Airlines has consistently won awards for the fewest complaints, best baggage handling, and best on-time performance. However everything at Southwest is focused on fun.


Obviously safety is important and all employees follow FAA regulations. However the whole purpose of the company is to have fun.


I’ve flown with airlines who continually tell you that their focus is my safety, I don’t really want to know that; I take it as a given.


Stop telling me how safe I am, you’re scaring me – I want fun.


Southwest issue guidelines to flight attendants in their training courses. They hand out joke books and give them ideas and tools for having fun. They then leave it up to the individual flight attendant to create fun for the customer, as they say – ‘They don’t want clones.’


The successful manager defines the outcomes to the team members and then lets each person find their way of getting there. That doesn’t mean you walk away or have no idea what’s going on. You are constantly getting out there with the team, watching and listening and supporting what they’re doing.


There are two characteristics of successful business owners and managers:


  1. They get the job done and
  2. They do it in the easiest and least stressful way.


I’m just reminding you of that because to try and control your team’s activities and get them to do things the way you want them done, is extremely stressful. It can also mean that you de-motivate the team, and then it’ll be much harder to achieve your outcomes.




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Posted in: Leadership, Management, Sales

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