Do you have a nimble sales culture?

As we move further into the year, it is evident that our industry continues to face significant challenges to success. To be sure, the remainder of 2014 promises to be no cakewalk. Sales organizations that win in 2014 will have sales cultures that are flexible, efficient and passionate. When discussing how to establish an effective culture, the conversation can turn pretty quickly into platitudes and generalities. But all managers can agree that certain things, if done well, have a larger impact than others. In his book Quick and Nimble, Adam Bryant identifies six key drivers that every organization needs to have a successful culture, regardless of the company’s size.

According to Bryant, the first issue is for leaders to boil down an organization’s many priorities and strategies into a simple plan so all employees can remember it, internalize it and act on it. With clear goals and metrics, everyone can pull in the same direction. Both sales and operations must have the same focus.

The second driver of a successful culture is that all employees know what the rules of the road are for their behavior. Behavioral guidelines are important according to Bryant because when it is not clear what is acceptable, politics take over and the culture deteriorates.

The third driver is cultivating mutual respect when employees interact with each other and a zero-tolerance policy for disrespectable behavior. When a company allows disrespect for a superior, subordinate or peer, safety goes out the window and employees revert to an “every man for himself” mentality.

The fourth driver is that employees not only understand their specific roles but are held accountable for their performance. Employee underperformance is not tolerated or rationalized but addressed quickly with a structured approach. Waiting for employees to quit is a sign of poor leadership.

According to Bryant, the fifth driver is managers having “adult” conversations to work through inevitable disagreements and misunderstandings. Bryant says that when managers are afraid to offer frank feedback, problems are swept under the rug, tensions simmer and talks that should have happened in the moment are delayed or never occur which can be detrimental to the organization or team.

Finally, the hazards of email can ruin a company because conversations that should take place in person (especially if there is conflict) don’t happen. By talking over the phone or in person, a manager has a better chance to avoid dangerous misunderstandings and actually improve and develop employee relationships with a sense of trust.

Is your sales culture ready for this challenging year? If not, what are you doing to change it?