(By Rick Fink) Don’t expect handouts, and get your butts and brains to work on time — and that goes for baby boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, and anyone else who wants to be successful!
To set the record straight, I am a baby boomer, and I have nothing against any generation. I know many from each generation who are focused, hard-working, successful individuals.
It was 23 years ago that I decided I want to be a coach (manager) instead of a player (media account rep). I figured my competition might be a little smarter than me, but I also knew they couldn’t outwork me. See, I was a farm kid, and a high school and college wrestler, which is a pretty tough combination to outwork. I was blessed because my dad, my best coaches, and my best boss/mentor all led by example.
So I started to get out of bed at 5:15 a.m., and most mornings was in the office by 6:15 or so. When my GM hired me, he asked, “So, as a sales manager, what do you think your job is?” I gave what I thought was the proper answer: “Keep the team motivated, train new reps, keep them motivated, help them with new and good ideas, prepare and plan training meetings.”
His reply was, “Nope, you’re a prison guard! These guys/ladies will try to get away with more stuff than you can imagine.”
The thing I gained the most from by showing up early was “my time.” As managers, you know you have very little of that. There are always meetings to go to, sales calls to go on, personal or professional employee problems to deal with, and deadlines and budgets to meet. That time allowed me to prepare and read, get better, and make sure I was ready for the team when they arrived. Remember, you’re a coach, and the coaches arrive for practice and games before the players.
But success doesn’t come from hard work alone. Granted, working hard will get you further, but working smart is equally important. The other musts are a good attitude, willingness to continually learn your craft, and a passion to help others and see them succeed.
It’s like Jim Rohn said, “If you motivate an idiot, you simply have a motivated idiot.” The same goes for hard workers. A hard-working idiot can be very dangerous. Those people shouldn’t be handling business owners’ precious advertising budgets! But if someone is hard-working but not trained, that responsibility falls on the shoulders of the sales manager. After all, it’s our responsibility to train them properly and provide the tools so they can succeed.
Does working hard mean 50 or 60 hours a week? Not necessarily. I know people who put in a solid 40. They manage their time, prepare, stay focused, and most importantly, when they’re at work, they are at work! I also know people who put in 40 hours but may be on task for 25 or 30 of them.
In that situation, it’s our job and responsibility as managers to manage.
To the excessive talkers around the office, pull them in and tell them, “Hey, you are not only wasting your time, you are wasting 20 minutes of Joe’s time.” If they are “hiding” out on the streets, have them detail their day, set expectations, and hold them accountable.
It’s our job to create a culture that instills hard work. If your team members have a good attitude and a desire to work hard and succeed — but it’s also OK to show up 10 minutes late, take extended lunch breaks, and cut out early — you’ll have a difficult time getting the most out of even a strong team.
If you have inherited a situation like that, it’s not too late to change the culture. But it won’t happen overnight, and you will get pushback. It’s up to you to lead by example. Start showing up early, limit the office chit-chat, include some attitude adjustments/motivation in your training/sales meetings, and be the one to turn out the lights.
Most importantly, start to change the culture! Motivate, encourage, show them step by step, day by day what the rewards of working hard and working smart can be for them and for their family. Remember, it must and should be all about them!
Why do I tell people who are self-disciplined enough to read a trade magazine to work harder? Three reasons. 1) to encourage you to continue to get better every day. Just a little extra effort can make a huge difference; 2) to remind you that when you hire new media reps, hire on attitude and effort (and honesty). You can train them on sales. But even if they’re a genius, if they are not willing to work hard, advertising sales probably isn’t for them; 3) to keep you motived and congratulate you for what you do. You’re in an honorable profession tasked with helping people succeed, so they can help businesses succeed.
The moral of the story: regardless of your age or what generation you fall into, nothing replaces hard work, a great attitude, and the willingness to learn!
Rick Fink is President of ENS Media USA and Business Partner with Wayne Ens of Ens Media Inc. Ens Media specializes in helping media companies across NorthAmerica create stronger partnerships with locally owned businesses and increase stations’ local direct sales with several proven revenue-generating programs.