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Moving Forward Beats Moving Backwards

One of our corporate goals during a recent campaign was to keep moving forward; everyday getting better, and making our teams stronger.  The idea may sound simple, but those who have participated in a campaign that spreads over multiple markets know how far from simple this concept really is.  Two areas that really made a difference in moving our teams forward were training and communication.

A high energy training session allowed us to grab the attention of our University Reps.  With a lot of material to cover in a short amount of time we relied on mid training question sessions.  This allowed for those who were falling behind to catch up before it was too late.  It also allowed for those who caught on quickly to test out their knowledge and step up to answer the questions.  Peer to peer education seems to stick more effectively compared to a normal training forum.  During training, our teams were presented with every odd situation we could think of and then some.  They were grateful for this training when a week into their campaigns a situation would arise and they knew exactly how to handle it!  Instead of phone calls of distress, we received phone calls telling us how they conquered the obstacle.  Our employees were able to move forward successfully and gain confidence at the same time.  Hands down, moving forward sure beats moving backwards.

As for those phone calls of distress…they are going to come.  When all is said and done you want them to come.  Our communication lines were open 24/7.  When calls were received at the worst possible moments, our team swallowed its pride and got to work.  A mean tone in conversation can sever those lines quickly and a cut cord of communication can be extremely hard to repair.  Reassuring team members that over communicating is better than not asking the hard questions helped move even the longest days of work forward.  Hands down, moving forward sure beats moving backwards.

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Managing the Masses

When covering an area the size of the United States you start to understand how it is to feel small.  One of our first planning meetings for a national campaign focused on distributing specific areas to each of the Field Managers.  Our Project Manager must have recognized how young and eager I was to work, because he assigned me to the East Coast knowing that our company is headquartered in Arizona.  Here are the do’s and don’ts I’ve learned from managing the masses in the city and from the office.

Reach out and try to make personal connections with each employee because it is just that…they are people too!  Just because the number of people I had to oversee was massive, and they were separated by hundreds and thousands of miles didn’t make the individual any less important to me.  I tried the best I could to find something each person was interested in and remember it.  Emails, phone calls and video conferences were really all about the nitty gritty work details, but ended or started with personalized questions. This tactic went a long way and paid off because I knew I cared about them and in return they cared about me and the company.  The strong relationship was built, not overnight, but throughout our campaign.  And in all, the results were amazing, and relationship building is something I will continue to do in all future projects.

Be quick to judge.  A wise man once told me that there are two sides to every slice of cheese.  Now that you are hungry…I think he meant that every story has two sides.  Forming a rational judgment before getting all the facts or hearing both sides is not fair to the people involved nor yourself.  Problems will arise when managing a large number, fixing them correctly will directly correlate to your overall success.  Getting both sides of the story takes more time, but it is time well spent.  Most of the time, the two sides will respect you more no matter the outcome because they know you adequately looked into the situation.  This earned respect leads to a stronger campaign, and fingers crossed, less problems along the way.

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Preparing for the Unexpected

The old saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  But what happens when you plan and plan until all is planned?  Well that is when you need to plan for the unexpected.  If you google, “planning for the unexpected” over 8.6 million results in .15 seconds pop up at your fingertips.  Most of the pages are aimed at personal financial security or national disasters.  Instead of filtering through all those pages we have highlighted 3 things that need to happen when you think you are completely done planning.

1. Confirm that everyone knows and understands the plan-

It is one thing for you to plan and prepare for a national word of mouth marketing campaign, but if you don’t have everyone up to speed the planning is useless.  Hours of preparation can go down the drain if the staff doesn’t know what to say when someone asks a simple question about the product or company.

We were able to insure everyone is on the same page by simple, consistent communications to team/area leaders.  Spot checking encourages many to speak up if there are any questions or concerns about the overall plan.

2. Adjusting the plan for different cities

We quickly learned that Santa Barbara and Atlanta have very few things in common.  Don’t expect the same plan to work for both cities.  Spending the extra time to get to know your different markets will decrease the possibility of the unexpected.

3. Respond clearly and quickly to the unexpected

The ability to give quick and clear instruction to the unexpected problem will help those involved resolve issues faster and easier.  The tone of  your voice verbally or in email will go a long way.  Typically the unexpected problems make employees feel less capable.  Meanwhile, senses are heightened so teaching moments should not be done right as the problem unfolds.  Rather, help the employee through the issue, then teach them how things could have  been prevented or what should be done if the issue presents itself again.

Overall, planning is absolutely is the 1st step to any businesses‘ success. Be prepared for plans to change and you will be able to work through the unexpected.

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