Keys to the Kingdom

By Adriana Puckett

You’re a new sales manager and before you even unpack the boxes in your corner office, you’re filled with self-doubt. How can you, with no management experience, lead your staff to sales success? Where do you plunge in? With expensive training seminars for all? With a glitzy incentive program sure to light your team’s motivational fire?

Hardly, says Robert Crittendon, author of The New Manager’s Starter Kit and a forty-year management veteran. Managing yourself is the first, and most challenging, task at hand. Crittendon asserts you must identify your personal ethics and rules before you can lead others. Not that you’ve been lacking an ideology up until now – but articulating it is an important step.

Crittendon highlights three guidelines he thinks are particularly important:

1. Just do it (right).
Of course there are caveats to this, but the basic tenant holds true: “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” Crittendon points out this is the best defense against such management snafus as sloppy project planning: a commitment to the end-result of the process, not just the here and now. If you are so busy that you can’t add up the figures right or contact all the appropriate people the first time, then “where will you find time to do it over?”

2. Reach out and touch someone.
Even ET had to phone home once in a while, and when he did, he knew how much to say and to whom. Make sure the right people receive enough information to stay in the loop and do their jobs. Have a regular meeting to fill your staff in and get important reports back. The tone of communication is equally as important as the frequency – be honest, specific and positive. Don’t think just because you are relaying data, you have to make it emotionless. Crittendon says, “Seize the opportunity to lift the spirits of others while you are delivering operational information.”

3. Variety is a necessary spice.
Are you all business, all of the time? Or, do you have a good balance between work and family life, with some hobbies thrown in the mix? It is imperative, says Crittendon, that you not only vary your routine by taking time to relax away from the office, but also that you spend time without an agenda, so you’re free to contemplate life’s larger issues. He says, “Today’s manager’s equate leisure with entertainment and think of leisure as time spend racing frantically to a theater or sports event to be entertained by someone else. That’s desperation, not quiet contemplation.”