I’ve spent a lot of time this year sitting with executives in corporate meetings, and one thing that never fails to amaze me is the amount of time spent discussing numbers, but little if any time talking about the talent that drives those numbers.
“Our results last month were up due to our marketing campaign, and we expect we can get even greater results if we ramp up the campaign with some new offers next week. With sales of $2.4 million this month, if we can get those numbers to $3.2 next month it will offset our loss leaders.”
Apparently that campaign sold products without one person mentioning a product or talking to a client. Granted, there are internet opportunities where customers can buy without human contact, but there are still people creating campaigns, making sure orders are fulfilled, and delivering the final product.
Focus on behaviors, connect with people, and leaders can create proactive results that create the numbers they will stare at in their leadership meeting a year from now. They could actually drive the results rather than react to them and try to get them fixed.
I’ve worked in branches where we’ve gone from hit list to award winners in less than a year by focusing on 2-3 behaviors. We didn’t plan the numerical results because we knew they would come. We drove the behaviors and watched those numbers rise.
Why do leaders prefer numbers over names?
1. Numbers don’t require leadership. You can re-cut numbers, move them around, and they look pretty. You don’t have to inspire them, communicate with them, or meet a need.
2. Numbers are an introvert’s dream. Leaders who are introverted can use spreadsheets as an excuse for shutting their door and staying in their office until the next meeting. They don’t go out amidst their employees, they don’t observe. Instead, they delegate the “people stuff” to others and tend to their numerical mistresses.
3. Numbers can be manipulated. Most of us know that you can move numbers around until you get what you need. People can be manipulated, but you’ll pay a price. Numbers don’t mind.
Now, here are three ways leaders can drive numbers through people:
1. Learn the names of the people that work for you. If you have to keep a notebook and write down names and descriptions, do it. Just greeting “Bob” the Security Guard by name means Bob will work ten times harder to make sure you’re safe.
2. Ensure that 1/3rd of every meeting is about behaviors. As other leaders are talking about their numerical results, ask them why those numbers are what they are. Ask them about the behaviors behind those numbers. What are coaches doing to help deliver and reinforce the skills needed to get the results each day?
3. Tell people how they impact results. Too many employees sit in cubicles, wanting to help the company succeed, but they never really understand how they drive the profitability of the company. Tell them.
I challenge all leaders to look up from their spreadsheets right now. Go shake an employee’s hand and learn their name. People require extra effort every day, but they are your only real competitive advantage. Build behaviors and the results will come!
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