How do you go about your business when the guys and gals at the top talk Team and then make you feel like you are out there Solo? With so many sales and engineering organizations thrashing away at making their numbers each quarter, is there really a Playbook for you to follow?
Do you have days when you don’t even know whose team you are on? Not even your own team? Because the rules appear to be: (a) constantly shifting; (b) only applicable to some; (c) only obvious to those in the “inner circle;” or (d) completely nonexistent?
So you retreat to your cubicle waiting for the dust to clear and for Someone to give you clarity. Or worse, you retreat under the desk in your cubicle with your head in your hands waiting for A Sign.
There is no room for siloed thinking in the new economic business paradigm. It simply makes everyone circle the wagons when the going gets tough. At that rate, the tough don’t even have to think about getting going. And a lot of finger pointing usually is directed at either the sales force or the engineering department. Which is really a good strategy since those two disciplines have trouble enough communicating with each other.
Divide and conquer is a “familiar” organizational dynamic. This strategy keeps everyone silo-ed within their own discipline or job function. It keeps the sales and engineering folks thousands of conceptual miles apart. And it keeps people from comparing notes and realizing how crippling and systemic this strategy can be.
Anthony Parinello’s “Think & Sell Like a CEO” is based on interviews with real live CEOs – and particularly those involved in the sales process. Parinello analyzes the mindset of the CEO and what makes the CEO capable of running his or her organization.
Parinello articulates that one of the main attributes common to the CEO is “having the ability to articulate problem-solving ideas in such a way that anyone of any title can easily understand” what is being communicated. Which goes into an overriding mission of horizontal corporate communication and a desire to unite the troops, not divide them.
You are the CEO of your job function. So think like one. Even if your organization is siloed.
What are the rules of Your Playbook? Not theirs. Yours. Try these on for size.
1.Every sale and every project has a boomerang factor. The sale doesn’t end when the contract is signed. The engineering project isn’t finished when you complete the part that is your responsibility and hand it off to the next guys in line to implement their part. Dotting “i’s” and crossing “t’s” does not indicate the end of your responsibility or accountability for that outcome. If you think you’ll never see the project again, well, go back under your desk in your cubicle.
2.Run your business like a 4 x 100 m relay. You’re going to receive incoming and you’ll have to deliver outgoing. Understand the dynamics of the entire race course. Because it’s not all a flat surface. And when I say “run your business,” I mean “run your job function.” You are the CEO of your job. You run an entire business out of that cubicle or your vehicle or your cell phone or your email or your interactive Internet platform. Isn’t it time to think about what you bring to the table?
3.If you are articulate, you will be anticipatory. If you are anticipatory, you will be accountable. And your accountability extends up and down that race course. Understanding the dynamics of your organization from the folks answering the phones to the guys delivering the mail provides critical insight as to why you are accountable and can’t hide behind your job function. You are the CEO. No more cubicle-thinking.
4.Form your Team within your job function. I am not suggesting anarchy or Machiavellian politics or end runs. Your job function depends on a number of individuals in your organization understanding the importance of their roles. Communicate each individual’s role and value to your team. They work with you (and for you) towards delivering an outcome that wins new customers and retains them, thus driving revenue for your organization. Yeah, YOU are the fulcrum of those horizontal organizational dynamics. Even if your organization is siloed.
5.The buck should always stop with you. If you go to work each day and do the minimum, minimally well, and focus on who you can blame if the job comes back to haunt you, I sure don’t want you flipping burgers for me at a fast food restaurant. How many times would the burger have landed on the floor before it landed on my plate? (Forget the 5-second rule). Ask yourself this question: would YOU want YOU working for YOU?
6.There is value in accountability, not safety. In a silo-ed organizational structure, everyone is hoping that the guys and gals at the top (a) recognize risk; (b) are willing to assume it on behalf of the longevity of the company; and (c) won’t sacrifice valuable employees in the process. News flash: playing it safe is just as risky as being accountable. It’s just that CEOs have a greater capacity for understanding risk and assessing its impact on their organization. As your own CEO, grow some antenna and learn to recognize and identify risk (not to be equated with job paranoia). Those antenna are valuable to you and your organization.
How will thinking like a CEO change the accountability you bring to the table, instead of the cubicle?
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools.