I wanted to at least get started with this blog today to discuss a change in my business over the last 2 months that has changed the nature of my work.
Up until 2 months ago – the oldest person in my business was our Managing Director and he’s maybe 1-2 years older than me at 37 (I think) and very young at heart with young children.
Our relationship is as equals in terms of how we manage things and discuss the business.
However, over the last year several things have changed:
- Salim (33) is my co-founder at Plant Sumo
- Sabelo (40) is my co-founder at Omnireach
- Ian (45) is our head of sales at Plant Sumo
- Matthew (49) is our head of sales at Kemistri and Pearl Lemon Properties
- Thando (31) sales director at Pearl Lemon
- Jude (28) sales director at Pearl Lemon
So..as you can see – the simple age of the team I’m working with has changed. They’re getting older.
And correspondingly I’m in a world where I’m having to ‘manage up’ or at least sideways
This became apparent several times over the course of the last week –
This is Ian’s bio I’ve just nicked from Commission Crowd – ‘I am a dynamic entrepreneurial sales professional with other 19 years sales experience, and 6 self-employed’.
I’ve only just read this now and didn’t appreciate the level of experience he has.
One of the things I’ve asked for is an end of day update from each of the sales team – interestingly – in the end, the only person doing it is Daniel (21 years old) and Matthew (49 years old).
Ian said he didn’t want to ‘have’ to do it because it felt too oppressive – this became clear once I asked him explicitly several times. I’ve only seen two of the group of several sales guys do it – Jude (28) hasn’t done it either.
It’s difficult to understand then if this is an ‘age’ thing or a ‘sales’ thing – likely a combination of both.
In any event however, this was the first instance (in my conversation with Ian) that I recognised my approach would likely need to adjust.
The second time this came up has been with Matthew when we were discussing sales and I was walking him through a couple of things.
I don’t even remember exactly what the discussion was about – I just distinctly remember Matthew saying ‘I appreciate you’re used to dealing with people younger than yourself’.
Clearly – there was something within what I said that he already knew very well.
I think the next several months are going to be a journey to understand how to effectively work with and manage people older than myself.
With this in mind – I thought I’d share w/you my next planned steps:
I’m going to focus on results – not the process
A noticeable difference with working with someone whose younger than myself is that I can define a process for them – because often time this is the first professional environment they’ve been in (this is for those on my placement programme)
However, when it comes to the elder folk – Ian, Ion, Jude, Matthew – these guys have been around and have learned and experienced.
With this in mind, I’m going to give them some ideas from my perspective, but outside of this am going to make a focus on the results more than anything else – and give them the freedom to determine how they will work.
Trying to straightjacket the team into my way of working – I’ve seen doesn’t really work for the more experienced guys. I’ve got to give them my hopes, give them some minimal expectations and then go from there.
It’s best to have mutual respect
This, I think is critical to the success of relationships where you’re working with people older than yourself.
When there is mutual respect for one another then it’s a strong foundation for how you can drive forward.
So this is about understanding they have their own style and strategy – and it’s best to show them a couple of things they might find useful here and there – but otherwise let them get on with their way of working…
What happens though when you need to change things?
This is actually where one of the challenges I’m having lies.
Recently I saw fragments of a sales pitch run by one of my team and realised it had gone in a strange direction.
With that in mind, it made me recognise I didn’t have a complete sales process baked down – and for that reason, I didn’t provide enough data as to how these calls should be run.
Consequently, I’m having to ask someone whose got a decent amount of sales experience to have a call together – which I can tell he’s not a fan of.
Mutual Learning Experience
One of the things many of us don’t do is recognise that you can learn from the people you bring in as well.
Pearl Lemon does a lot of selling, and with this in mind – it pays for me to be able to sell effectively.
So getting some training or at least some advice from the more experienced people in the sales team would be of ultimate benefit to my future.
Keep this in mind when considering the value that people with more experience than yourself can bring to the table
Make Sure You Have A Solid Offering
There needs to be a promising path that’s mapped out for an experienced hire. Remember they’re more settled than younger hires and are looking for signs your company has solid foundations and is progressing in a manner that can ultimately support them.
This can be demonstrated in many ways.
In my instance – demonstrating ultimately the number of leads that Pearl Lemon can generate is the critical distinction here.
And this is what the lure is for the sales team I’m working with.
See It As A Partnership
I think this is actually true for all of the leaders and even people within your team. At no point do you want to make people feel like employees.
The feeling older people need to have – is a valued contribution.
That the work they’re doing matters to you and to the business.
I’m still really figuring this process out.
But it’s novel to me and a really reassuring sign that clearly there’s a lot of value within Pearl Lemon to be attracting experienced hires who are interested in aligning with the group.
And I’m sure that the learning I’ll get from the older members of my team will help drive me forward further still
In any event, it’s an exciting time for Pearl Lemon as we continue to evolve as does our team alongside us.
Let’s see what the future brings!