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Sandler Training | Chattanooga, TN | (423) 702-5579

Many of our clients have heard me tell the story of one of the great mentors I’ve had in my career.  I still talk to him several times a year… and have for the last 40+ years! He had such a deep and profound effect on me that it would be impossible to overestimate his value in my life…professionally and personally.

I was young, very young  I’d had many jobs growing up through my school years. However, this was my first “big boy” career job. I was in the media, hired to sell advertising. He was my sales manager…and frankly not that much older than me in years but infinitely older and wiser in experience.

I’ve learned many things over the course of a long career.  And I will confess sometimes I think I’ve learned more from the very poor leaders I’ve worked with.  Things like what it feels like and how unproductive it is to not have clarity about how to do my job well, what the expectations were, sudden and constant shifting of priorities, poor communications skills, being a taskmaster but never a coach, always critical.

I’ve told clients for years that I would have run through the wall for my mentor…and still would. Why? What made him so different? What engenders that kind of blind loyalty, trust, willingness to follow?

Most leaders point out the mistakes we make. Get us hyper-focused on those things that we don’t do well in order to improve.  Let’s not diminish the importance of constant growth and improvement…but who likes doing things we aren’t good at?  My mentor was incredibly good at recognizing a ‘natural ability’ good fit for specific roles & putting people in a position to be successful.

Then he watched you like a hawk…to catch you doing right! That’s correct, he focused on what I did right and pointed it out…repeatedly!  We’ve all seen the research that clearly defines how much more successful positive reinforcement is than negative…every time he pointed out “what I did right”, I got that shot of dopamine in my brain that made me feel so good.  All I wanted to do was repeat whatever it was that got me that compliment! He was reinforcing positive behavior by rewarding me for it.

Oh, he didn’t ignore my mistakes…and I made plenty.  But because he had built belief in me and focused on what I did correctly, I was open to his constructive criticism. He had earned that by creating an environment where I was completely convinced of his interest in helping me be successful.

People often leave for one of two reasons: either they do not feel appreciated & respected, or they aren’t being challenged to reach new levels of achievement.  Salespeople, operations, real estate developers, installers, etc. are all valuable in making our companies successful. You will be making yourself vulnerable to losing those people you have recruited, supervised, trained, mentored, and coached if you don’t commit to making them feel appreciated.  Feel challenged to reach new levels of success.

Be honest, are you…

· Making time for regular one-on-one’s with each of your direct reports to know them and understand what is important to them?

· Actively working to help them grow professionally?

· Focused on “catching them doing right”?

· Expressing gratitude for their talents and who they are as a person?

If you aren’t, and they are lucky, maybe their next leader will.

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