Ten Commandments for Managers

By Heather Baldwin

In 1994 T. Scott Gross published Positively Outrageous Service: How to Delight and Astound Your Customers and Win Them for Life (Dearborn Trade Publishing). Subsequently, he was brought in to motivate the troops at countless sales meetings worldwide. Now, 10 years later, the founder of Positively Outrageous Service has published a second edition of the book, incorporating many of the stories and new ideas he gathered over the past decade. In his new book, Gross lists these 10 commandments for managers.

1. Always try to say yes to customers. Say no when it’s for their own good. Even when customers seem to ask for the impossible, consider their request and find a way to meet at least part of it or to meet them in the middle. Change your thinking to yes when dealing with customers and you’ll find your interactions become more positive, even if you can’t accommodate their entire request.

2. Give employees the freedom to make decisions – and mistakes. Let your sales reps make mistakes now and then if they aren’t too costly. The confidence and competence that come from decision making and the lessons learned from experiencing mistakes builds high performers.

3. Ask yourself: Is what I am doing now improving our sales? There are thousands of things to be done on any business day. Most of them count, but some do not. Make sure you’re spending your time on the things that really matter.

4. Be a list master. If people ask you what’s on your to-do list today, make sure you have one to show them. Always work with a plan – and stick to it. Too often a single phone call can derail a manager’s entire day. Don’t get distracted by small emergencies. Refer to your list often.

5. Write down every idea and promise. “Ideas not recorded are ideas destined to be lost,” says Gross. One way to record everything is to carry a miniature tape recorder with you at all times. When you make a promise to a rep, or an idea strikes you while in line at the grocery store, pull out the recorder and save it.

6. Keep all agreements completely. If you intend to keep an agreement, write it down or record it so you don’t forget. Then follow up and keep that agreement. If you do not intend to keep an agreement, don’t make it in the first place.

7. Manage (think) first; labor second. Make sure you’re managing, not being another sales rep. If your time is spent doing work that could be handled easily by a junior employee, you’re not serving your reps effectively. The value of a manager lies in leadership, training and decision making.

8. Be a product, service and cleanliness fanatic. Don’t just be interested in these areas, adopt an attitude of fanaticism. As the founder of Mrs. Fields’ Cookies once said: Good enough seldom is.

9. Do not say: I don’t know; say: I’ll find out. Saying you don’t know ranks right up there with saying it’s not my job, says Gross. People don’t grow when they are allowed to sit on their ignorance. It’s okay not to know; it’s not okay not to find out.

10. Do not say: I can’t; say: I’ll learn. Adopt the attitude that your people can do anything. Expect them to do it and then stand by to be surprised at how resourceful and intelligent they prove to be.