Listen To Our Podcast Online.
In this inaugural episode of Upskill Talks, host Michel Shah shares the most transformative experience of her career that forever changed her professional trajectory.
Yes, as leaders, we are measured by our Results. But when we focus solely on the metrics and the measurements that determine success, we lose sight of the personal Stories that shape the human experience of our employees and team members.
As shared in this first episode of Upskill Talks, when we begin with the Stories(before we focus on the Results), the outcome is a team that strives for greater heights. Plus, we help the building of a caring, more meaningful relationship between us (as leaders) and the people who “show up” for us everyday.
Thanks for listening and sharing!
In this inaugural episode of UpSkill Talks I’m Sharing how shifting your approach with people can lead to better results
Over 20 years ago I had a leadership role within a sales organization. In addition to that role, as the the top personal producer,. I was the designated person that others would come to for goal setting and accountability checkins
At that time if you shared a goal you wanted to achieve, all I wanted to hear next time we meet was that you got it done. I also had my personal goals to meet and a team to lead.
We drove results and exceeded sales targets 75% of the time
One day My sales director called me aside and said you are my most outstanding producer, I want you to continue to run up the scoreboard and teach others how to do that. And there’s one more thing I want you to do – I want you to lather before you shave
What did he just say to me?
Lather before you shave? Wow
I was born and bred in Jamaica raised by a village anchored by pack of powerful matriarchs- my mother, grandmother and aunts
Excuses were never welcome and they let you know
I wasn’t able to do it
girl cry me a river
of course you can’t – because you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth
I couldn’t finish
tough luck, I’ve got time – come back when you are done
I was raised to find ways to get things done
they always told me if you knock on one door and the answer isn’t there, keep knocking until you find the right door – all the answers you seek are on earth
In my early career this was the approach I took
As a sales leader, when someone didn’t meet their target I didn’t feel the need to waste my time with them
I used to tell my team that R comes before S- so let’s talk results before stories
I could literally feel my stomach tightening when people launched into a story, when I’m expecting to hear about the results.
So when my director suggested I latter before I shave,- I was shocked, offended, disappointed
I was getting outstanding results with that approach – so I felt justified in how I did what I did
I later learned that people were nervous to meet with me, wouldn’t tell me the whole truth and would go to great lengths to plan what they would say to me when they didn’t meet their targets
Lather before you shave- caused me to pause
On reflection I was like a bull in a China shop- focused solely on The results side of the equation.
That’s not the type of leader I thought I was – and certainly not the type I wanted to be
Yet even after becoming aware, I was hesitant to shift my approach.
I felt that lathering would waste my time
Give the perception that I’m open to excuses
It would drop the standards
Results would decline
That wouldn’t be me
People knew who I was already
Bottom line – the results were working and so I felt my system was working- so why should I change it?
My Ego and I struggled with this for a while- before
I reluctantly and slowly modified my approach,
ego in tow, I didn’t want the change to be noticed
It took a while to get my chin off the ground, lick my wounds and revisit my approach
In subsequent sessions, I dedicated time to finding out how their month went before discussing the results. I said I was experimenting with what would happen if S came before R – if we shared Stories before the results.
I shared some of my experiences over the month and they shared theirs. So many connections were made, so many strategies and tips were shared, I got a true understanding of their efforts and so much of what I’d missed all along became obvious
The immediate response to this slightly modified approach was very encouraging – people started to say they didn’t want to let me down.
I was surprised by that. Wow, this lathering thing works!, I noticed that people felt better about themselves, trusted me to tell me the real challenges they were encountering and I was able to identify root causes and provide targeted supports
Not only did I get better results, I started to feel better about my work and myself – it felt easier, less stressful, I felt like I was really helping others .
People began to open up to me- even sharing mistakes they were making. They started seeking my help to close tough deals they were working on – based on experiences we shared
and they started reaching out to celebrate successes. I especially remember Johnathon who struggled to hit 25% of his target previously. He shared that my support helped him achieve 85% of his target for the first time.
I was invited to participate in social gatherings and many of them shared personal stories with me.
The latter before you shave approach my leader recommended gave me far more in my role than I imagined:
better relationships with others for sure
My team feel better about what we were doing together
We Uncovered hidden challenges in the sales process that we were able to address at the branch level
We built momentum and improved results right across the branch
This shift to the human side of the equation has been the most impactful shift of my career and personal life
I admit that I still have to work at this every day. I have grown through several versions of myself, and it’s becoming more natural to me with practice. I still care about results – AND I care about my people
In a context defined by challenges with who we are and who we work with, it’s so important for us to go beyond broad categories and theories to learn about people – both as members of departments or groups – and as individuals. Theories are about groups and miss the details that stories tell about the individual
Get to know their individual needs.
This helps you to demonstrate an understanding of who they actually are. You will gain their trust, be better able to serve them and inspired them to produce greater results
I share this story because I know what you’re doing today maybe working really well for you – and you may have great results – You may be successful with the approach that you’re taking – and see no need for change
no need to learn about the individuals whom you serve, no need to find out what their stories are and certainly no time for any of that
what my story demonstrates is that there is a human side to the equation that has meaningful data to inform your process and results
In addition – it gives you intel that helps to address the root causes of some of the big challenges that you may be facing today and struggling to find solutions for. This is particularly critical in the current climate
I recognize that we are all at different places on this journey.
But tomorrow’s Leaders will have to lead both relationships with people, relationships with machines and interrelationships among people and machines
It’s understandable that In a world defined by this level of complexity and uncertainty, it can at times feel like you need to boil the ocean. You may feel like you want to throw your hands up.
What you need are strategies to eat this elephant one bite at a time.
One key strategy is to engage meaningfully with others to build your capacity, their capacity and the capacity of entire organizations based on your sphere of influence
And that’s why I’m passionate about UpSkill Talks
The opportunity to share relevant stories, insights and inspiration with you weekly to help you UpSkill your game
There was a problem reporting this post.
Please confirm you want to block this member.
You will no longer be able to:
Please allow a few minutes for this process to complete.