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Management, Business












Failure causes us to recognise that we need to change and do something differently. | Source: Freepik
Failure causes us to recognise that we need to change and do something differently. | Source: Freepik

In business, what does it really mean to ‘fail'?

When something goes wrong, our first move is usually to assign blame. DAVID BROCK urges you to reconsider how you view failure as it relates to your jewellery store.

There is a significant benefit to empowering your employees to break the rules for their customers.

My social media feeds are constantly filled with data and stories about sales ‘failures’.

“Our staff aren’t productive enough! They aren’t winning enough sales! They aren’t using the tools! They aren’t making quota!”

These are some of the more common complaints we hear. It’s easy to blame our staff for poor sales performance; however, are we assigning the responsibility correctly? Is the failure because of them, or are they failing for another reason?

Our staff are directly accountable for producing results; when they don’t, it’s easy to point the finger at them.

It’s human nature to try to assign blame; however, assigning blame doesn’t solve the problem. With that said, rarely the responsibility can ever be attributed to a single individual. Just like it takes a team to win, it takes a team to fail.

There are many types of failure, so allow me to focus on the two that tend to dominate sales performance.

Performance expectations
"Employees will make mistakes - they need coaching and support to understand and correct those mistakes. Without that, they will continue to fail."

The first, and I suspect the smallest category, is the failure of individuals to meet performance expectations.

There are many reasons an individual might fail. Someone other than them may be the right person for the job, which is a failure in the hiring process. They may need to gain the skills to perform as expected.

When we encounter this, both managers and the front-line sales staff need to coach and help that individual improve their performance.

If they can’t improve and meet performance objectives, we need to move them into roles where they can meet performance expectations, sometimes in roles outside the company.

The more common failures are systemic failures. These are failures not of a few individuals. Instead, it’s a collapse within the majority of the organisation, which leads to missed objectives.

These are crippling to any business, and too often, how we deal with systemic failure aggravates or prolongs the issue.

Systemic failures are not failures of individuals. They are doing what we have told, trained, equipped, and hopefully coached them to do. For so many employees to be failing means something other than their performance is the deciding factor.

We need the right strategies, the suitable approaches to the market, and we need to avoid non-competitive offerings. Employees need the proper training, tools, support, or coaching to perform as expected. We may have unrealistic expectations of performance.

"Failure to understand why our employees and businesses fail and what we must do to correct performance is a leadership issue – more specifically, a leadership failure."

Replacing the staff, in this case, does not solve the performance problem – yet, too often, that’s just what we do. We bring in new employees, outsource tasks, or ask others to ‘pick up the slack’.

With that said, if whoever replaces these employees is performing the ame practices as before, the failure will continue.

We need to drill down and try to understand why so many people consistently cannot achieve their goals. If we can’t determine and correct the root causes, nothing we do will change the outcomes.

Failure to understand why our employees and businesses fail and what we must do to correct performance is a leadership issue – more specifically, a leadership failure.

Change your thinking

While I’m on the topic of failure, we must re-assess our mindsets about failure. While we shouldn’t purposefully set out to fail (if we do, we are likely to succeed in that endeavour); however, we shouldn’t avoid failure.

We learn and develop more through our failures than through our successes. When we succeed, we tend to do more of the same, never recognising we might do better by doing things differently.

Failure causes us to recognise that we need to change and do something differently.

Furthermore, we often underperform relative to our potential because we are ‘succeeding.’ I often speak to business managers who tell me that: “We’re hitting our numbers; why change?”

When you look at how they achieve their numbers, we discover low win rates, low average deal values, and customers buying despite what retailers do.

Then there’s the wasted and unproductive efforts, excessive spending, and, I’m sure, a wide range of other matters. As long as the sole metric of success is hitting the number and businesses are hitting them, most of the time, we fail to recognise that we could do much better.

Finally, failure is very seldom the result of the action or inaction of a single person rather than the collected error of many.

Employees will make mistakes - they need coaching and support to understand and correct them. Without that, they will continue to fail.

We all want to succeed and outperform; sometimes, the best way is through our failures.

More reading:
13 reasons why retailers are failing
Understanding Uncertainty
Simple ways to improve your selling mindset when you're swimming against the tide
The 10 most important management lessons taught by a business master
Why taking risks is critically important

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Brock

Contributor • Partners In Excellence


David Brock is CEO of Partners In Excellence, a global consultancy focused on helping organisations engage customers more effectively. He writes at: partnersinexcellenceblog.com

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