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Implementing changes in the sales department. Part 10/12. Stage VIII – Establishing a hierarchy and structure of responsibility.

Managerial activities in determining the hierarchy of positions in the sales department should be implemented based on three main premises.

  1. Distribution model.
  2. Employee competences.
  3. Customer relations.

An important element of organizational changes is the division of the sales department into employees responsible for sales and customer contact (the so-called Front Office) and employees performing administrative tasks in the field of customer service (the so-called Back Office).

When making organizational changes in the sales department, the following premises can be taken into account:

  • The Sales Department manager should be relieved of direct supervision of operational activities in the field of administrative customer service and delegate some control functions in this area reporting directly to specialist / sales managers (more time for preparation and implementation of strategic tasks),
  • Specialized functions should be taken over by experienced and effective employees who will be promoted (motivation),
  • Customers should be informed about the new organizational structure,
  • New employees should be introduced to work and develop their skills under the guidance of experienced colleagues,
  • Managers / sales specialists should be given greater opportunity for business trips by securing administrative work in the office by their subordinates,
  • As a result of changes, there should be the possibility of exchanging functions and replacing employees (eg greater freedom when planning holidays).

The new organizational chart should also be the basis for developing a payroll throughout the entire commercial division. Based on the pay scale, pay adjustments should be made taking into account employee experience, development prospects and the labor market situation.

Implementing changes in the sales department. Part 9/12. Stage VII – Staff changes.

The consistent implementation of the process of implementing changes and the motivation system presented in previous stages was aimed at assessing the team’s potential and raising the competence of its individual members. The openness of individual employees to changes and the introduction of a work model was also examined. As a result of the implementation of these stages, the quality of staff will be verified in the context of meeting the criteria of the competency model adopted as the expected ‘model’ of the employee. As a result of this analysis, it may be necessary to end cooperation with some team members. The reason for this decision will most often be the individual attitude of employees throughout the entire cooperation. From the point of view of further cooperation, disqualifying features and behaviors are:

  • Reluctance to change,
  • Open, unobjective and emotional critique of superiors and proposed new solutions,
  • Not taking action as a result of official orders or apparently carrying them out,
  • Inciting other team members to protest against implemented changes,
  • Reluctance to develop further,
  • Exorbitant and non-objective assessment of one’s own competences.

When assessing such decisions in retrospect, it should be emphasized that they are necessary and have a positive impact on changing the attitude of other employees. Thus, negative factors affecting relationships within the team are eliminated. From a managerial point of view, the decision to terminate cooperation should be transparent for the entire team. The manager should also show that he is not hostage of his own employees.

Implementing changes in the sales department. Part 8/12. Stage VI – Determining the employee’s competence profile.

Employees of customer service and sales should be people who understand customers from the emotional side and be able to reach their shopping motivations. In addition, they should have a key feature which is the ability to be entrepreneurial when working with clients. This is due to the complexity of the tasks performed and many factors affecting the sales result. Optimal use of all commercial opportunities (e.g. speed of order processing, selection of appropriate transport, quick establishment of internal production plans, organization of meetings with clients) allows for better economic results. This means that the priority is to instill in employees an economical approach to sales and customer service – “work as if it was your company!”.

It is therefore crucial to create an appropriate organizational culture in the entire department, which would be transferred to employees of other departments during their daily relations. This culture is also to be a showcase for customers who quickly understand its features:

  • Flexibility for customer needs,
  • Quick response to customer inquiries,
  • Precise answers,
  • Openness to new projects and challenges.

The above list is a manifestation of the implemented organizational culture noticed by customers. From an internal point of view, sought candidates and current employees should have the following competences:

  • Self-discipline – the ability to perform tasks on time and in good quality without the need for continuous managerial supervision,
  • Readiness to achieve goals within the team – the ability to cooperate with team members regardless of their role,
  • Openness to new ideas,
  • Honesty,
  • Regularity and good organization of own work.

The above-mentioned features are the foundation of the employee’s competency model from the interpersonal side.

Implementing changes in the sales department. Part 7/12. Stage V – Identification of motivators and demotivators in teamwork.

The team’s work efficiency is influenced by many factors that can strengthen or weaken employees’ attitudes. At the same time, one should not be limited to motivation theories and the tools created on their basis. The managerial task is to eliminate negative factors that reduce employee motivation. From a strategic point of view, i.e. the goal of strengthening the positive attitudes of employees, it is necessary to quickly implement changes.

Common factors that have a negative impact on employee attitudes can be:

  1. Disordered pay grid (too wide pay gap in similar positions).
  2. Unclear organizational structure (no division of tasks and responsibilities) and thus chaos and frequent conflicts.
  3. Unaesthetic appearance of the rooms constituting the workplace.
  4. Lack of appropriate work tools (too few devices, frequent failures).
  5. Wrong location of the workplace.
  6. Task overload due to staff shortages and / or poor work organization.
  7. Lack of bonus system for achieved goals and above average results.

The fastest possible action to implement is to improve social working conditions. Symptoms of poor social conditions can be (examples):

  • Damaged walls,
  • Old furniture,
  • Frequent failure of printers,
  • Dirty armchairs at desks,
  • Poor distribution of the work space, which does not emphasize the managerial functions of some people and introduces confusion for clients,
  • Difficult working conditions during the summer – no air conditioning of the rooms,
  • Lack of a coffee maker and fridge in the kitchen for storing meals.

Few managers pay no attention to this area of work, but from the point of view of the quality of work and team motivation it is crucial.

Implementing changes in the sales department. Part 6/12. Stage IV – Defining the team roles of individual employees.

This stage of team potential analysis is an activity that should be combined with broadly understood managerial intuition. This is associated with a certain vision of team building, and in particular the design of appropriate relationships in the team that will create the right conditions for the group to achieve better results at work. In short, the point is that relationships in a team be a positive motivation factor.

Team roles can be determined based on the following tools:

  • Observation of work,
  • Individual interview with employees,
  • Interviews with direct supervisor and close associates.

As a result of this analysis, which can take up to several months, the roles of individual team members will be determined. The classification proposed by Meredith Belbin is best used to classify these roles. Not all roles proposed by M. Belbin will suit every team. Some roles will also be dysfunctional from the point of view of further cooperation opportunities and, as a result, will affect personnel decisions.

The biggest dysfunction are team roles consisting in non-objective criticism of proposed changes and expressing disapproval in the team forum. The effect of such behavior is an unfavorable internal atmosphere, increasing distrust and dissatisfaction. Changing these attitudes, based on contesting everything, despite many attempts and tools used, may prove impossible.

At this stage, the most important thing is to identify the core of the team, giving prospects for further development and building an efficient sales department. Personnel dysfunctions arising from the attitudes of individual employees towards colleagues and superiors, as well as towards clients should also be determined. As a result, the manager will obtain a clear picture of the team and a vision of its development from the interpersonal side in internal and, above all, external relations – cooperation with clients.

Implementing changes in the sales department. Part 5/12. Stage III – Analysis of employees’ competences and division of tasks.

Managerial analysis of employee competences can be implemented based on the following data sources:

  • Periodic severance pay – observation of team behavior,
  • Delegation of special tasks – checking individual managerial competences and potential,
  • Coaching during remote work with clients and visits to recipients,
  • Analysis of developed documents,
  • Periodic interviews regarding job evaluation,
  • Opinions of the direct superior,
  • Analysis of measurable work results,
  • Customer reviews (informal)
  • Customer satisfaction survey, which mainly concerned sales department employees,
  • Evaluation of the quality of cooperation between heads of other organizational units.

Based on the conclusions saved in the form of a checklist resulting from the determination of the team position of individual employees, their competences and the probable source of motivation, it is possible to create a competency model of employees at individual positions in the subordinate division. This model will not result from the system of the entire corporation (if it has not been implemented) but will serve primarily to build a real employee team that can achieve ambitious goals.

The information gathered in previous stages will allow to make further managerial decisions in the field of team development, verification of its members, change of the organizational structure of the division, new division of tasks, and creation of a motivation system.

Implementing changes in the sales department. Part 4/12. Stage II – Understanding the characteristics of employees.

This element of implementing changes cannot be treated as closed in time. Throughout the cooperation period, the manager gets to know his employees during various professional and sometimes private situations. Getting to know employees, their expectations and preferences requires building appropriate relationships. To gain employees’ openness is to gain and maintain their trust. This can be achieved by the manager’s openness to various opinions and by enabling employees to express their tasks during conversations. As a result, an atmosphere of trust will be built and employees will openly inform about their problems and errors, allowing them to be quickly repaired and corrected.

An opportunity to understand employees’ attitudes are:

  • Training (desire for further development, position in the group, commitment)
  • Joint business trips (observation of field work, opportunity to learn about the private situation during informal conversations),
  • Talks with employees and heads of other departments about the quality of cooperation between organizational units and individual persons,
  • Individual meetings.

Each manager should get to know his employees in a different way than in professional situations. Often, living outside work affects decisions taken in professional life. Lack of knowledge of the private sphere of employees may in some cases lead to non-objective assessments of their work. On the other hand, care should be taken that excessive intimacy and empathy do not cause decision-making paralysis of the manager in difficult professional situations.