“Okay team, even though we didn’t make our quota last month, we have a new month to start fresh and turn things around, ” I would say encouragingly to the 10 computer sales people on my team. But every month, we slipped further behind and my pep talk was sounding very tired.
As a recently promoted manager, I had such high hopes that our team could move mountains. Instead, things got worse. This was a real disappointment, because not only did this reflect on the team as a whole, and me as their manager, but also everyone’s job security was jeopardized.
Our company was very big on management training. I eagerly tried all the sure-fire methods I had read about in management books, and heard about at seminars and conferences. I applied helpful suggestions from my colleagues. I gave out incentive awards, held contests, found leads for the team, and offered suggestions on how to more effectively close business. But, nothing in the long term, seemed to work. In fact, at the end of several months not only was everyone frustrated, but the team also thought I was micromanaging themand they were right.
Finally, with team morale at an all-time low and me feeling like I had hit the wall with this job, I decided I really needed to change my methods. I had to do more than just implement another new management incentive. I needed to go back to basics, spiritual basics. I was used to finding spiritual solutions when I had troubles personally, but it had taken me this long for it to occur to me to look there now.
So I prayed. I got still and listened for divine direction. Answers didn’t come all at once, but they did come. It occurred to me that I had been trying, all this time, to change the team, when maybe I was the one who needed changing. Secretly, I had been self-righteously seeing them as unprofessional and not as hard working as they could be.
In Science and Health, a book I turn to often, the author Mary Baker Eddy writes, “As mortals gain more correct views of God and man, multitudinous objects of creation, which before were invisible, will become visible.” So I prayed to gain a more spiritual view of my colleaguesto see them as part of God’s creation and given all the ability, talent, desire, and wherewithal to do whatever needed to be done. There was a divine law operating through them to bring out their full potential, and I could trust that law to govern them. It was their divine right and joy to use their talents to the best of their ability, and I decided to look for and value that.
Not only did I strive to improve my view of them, but the team got involved in this new way of thinking as well. We began a contest I’d read about called, “Caught ya!” Every time someone was caught in the act of doing something goodbeing on time, helping a co-worker, making a sale, showing leadershipthey would receive points and the one with the most points won for that week.
“Okay,” you may be thinking, “there she goes again with another contest.” In fact, we had actually tried it before and it hadn’t helped. But this time, it wasnt just some new gimmick. This time I was spiritually motivated to bring out the good in everyone. And it occurred to me that any of those other management techniques would have worked better with this new way of thinking, too.
Caught ya! was a simple thing but everyone loved it. It helped us appreciate one another and put on record the good we were all accomplishing. We also formed a buddy system, where the more experienced helped the less technical and the more outgoing helped the more reserved. In fact, with this newly inspired vision, the contest seemed to work on a much deeper level. Friendships among colleagues strengthened and team loyalty got stronger.
Although there was no immediate turnaround in sales goals, there was a growing sense of harmony and respect. But then, after two months or so, sales began improving. Slowly more team members began to make their goals. What a joy it was when the whole team met their quota!
They continued to meet their goals in the forthcoming months in spite of company restructuring. The month I left the company, I got a phone message from someone in the group. Out of about 25-30 teams, ours was one of only three to meet their quota. The excited voice rang out, “We did it for you!” My heart sang as I mentally gave thanks for the turnaround not only in the group but their relationship with me.
The big lesson I learned was that managing my own views of the team was the best management technique available. It helped me to witness the full potential that was already in each team member, and that turned everything around.
Reprint permission from Spirituality.com