By Wayne R. Bodie, MBA, SPHR
Several years ago, a former colleague and close friend launched a financial services company. He’s the “It Guy” with a stream of profitable ventures in his wake, so it was no surprise when his latest start-up took off. While I watched from the sidelines, his upwardly mobile trappings multiplied. Rolex timepieces, flashy supercars then a multi-million dollar home and frequent international vacations.
The day the invitation arrived to personally tour his new business enterprise, I jumped at the chance. Onsite was just as impressive as I imagined with expansive views, trendy offices, an open workspace sales floor, and an inviting break room. I patted him on the shoulder saying, Wow, nice job!” That moment, he gets a call from down the hall. “I have to take this,” he says to me, “feel free to show yourself around.”
Drawing on my own sales background, I can’t help making a beeline straight into the sales department. For sure, my blatant enthusiasm about shadowing for a while is plastered all over my face, because without hesitation, one of the sales agents thrusts a headset into my palm. I listen in, realizing this guy is good! Guys and gals, they were all good! That conclusion wasn’t a bolt out of the blue though, given that my buddy had strategically recruited each team member from top national firms.
Besides their exceptional talent, one other thing became glaringly apparent: The turbulence. A war raged. Between calls on the floor, they grumbled, clearly upset with management while the sales manager cracked “a whip over their heads”.
I was shocked! I thought, given inexperience and/or incompetence, this sales manager doesn’t know how to run a sales floor. Mindful that my buddy may not be fully aware, I contemplated working my observations into casual conversation, as I headed head back to my friend’s corner office.
Since chief executives are expected to grow sales, I wondered whether this CEO would blow up the fire or put out the flames. My answer surfaced in a private conversation where my buddy said, “The number one way I increase my sales team’s efficiency and productivity is to get them excited.” He added, “The more noise and drama the better.”
What struck me was not so much the sales team maelstrom, but that my friend would allow it to exist. Long story very short, he was aware but preferred it that way. He explained, “I prefer a thumbs down approach to management, and my commission structure keeps staff onboard.” No way would I let our differences in organizational philosophies affect our friendship. Rather we agreed to disagree.
Unfortunately a missed opportunity for my friend, but in the spirit of wishing every company progress and profitability, here’s a free lesson for every operations manager. Happy workers are not only more productive, but they also sell better. How much better you may ask? Excellent question! Let’s explore some statistics:
- Companies with happy employees outperform their competition by 20%
- Happy employees are 12% more productive
- A Happy Sales Force will yield 37% greater sales
- Happy Employees take 10x less sick days
I’m just an HR guy. But, I have a sneaky suspicion that if I walked into your company and offered to increase your sales by 37% your operations guy might listen. Now, you may be asking, “OK, how do I make people happy?” This article doesn’t give you the full cookbook of secret recipes for happy employees, that’s for another day entirely. But, fostering an organizational atmosphere of trust, dignity, and respect is a good place to start.