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Building Your Support Network
Everyone Needs Their Own Cheerleaders
Everyone is motivated by something. Maybe the picture I chose for this hub motivated you to take a look, I'll keep that in mind. But first, I had a boss one time that figured out early on that he could get a lot more out of me with a kind word of encouragement than a half hour of berating me over late reports or lost sales. Of course, it wasn't long and I was his greatest cheerleader to anyone who would listen or ask me about him. I also became, for him, a great protector, providing him information on things I would hear that I thought might be important to him to make other important decisions from. He kept me feeling important by knowing what I was doing and gently guiding me forward down the best path. Sometimes I felt like a slow rolling bowling ball on an alley with bumpers in the gutters!
It was a great learning process. I saw him "work" others according to how they responded to his direction. Some folks really need a swift kick in the shorts to get off their duff and others, simply a word of support. One of my other bosses actually told me one time, "I use a ratio of 3 positive comments to one swift kick to keep most of my salesmen rocking!"
Building The Squad
What these two bosses were doing in part was motivating their sales forces. They had analyzed the salespeople, each for their own need for support, to find the right way to keep the salesperson motivated and moving in the best possible direction. What they were also doing was building their own support squad. There wasn't a person in either of our groups, save one later on, that didn't love working their or want to do whatever they could to support their respective boss.
One of the best Sales Managers I ever knew, and most successful, was never more than a Sales Manager within the company. However, what Carl did was very special. Carl, over time, was very much like the other two I mentioned above - but went a step further on a regular basis. Carl went out of his way to be sure his very best and very brightest were promoted up through the ranks. He had a network of people in our company - and outside of our company with many of our competitors - that he had trained, motivated, promoted and supported to get to their highest possible levels. In doing so, Karl retired a very satisfied, very happy, and very wealthy man. Most of his understudies ran businesses that he was a part owner of later in life. He was brought in on boards as a paid adviser and did quite well on IPOs.
How To Choose
The who, what, when, why and how are really pretty simple and all start today. It doesn't matter to a great extent that you haven't already started. The important part is that you get started. Do an analysis of your situation and what it is you do. Also, let's think about where you want to go and of course, how you see yourself getting there. Let's think about who you know, who you know that either has made it where you want to go - or a similar position in a different industry. Who do you know that likes or emulates you to any degree? Who sees you as a doer, a shaker, someone who makes things happen?
The why you go through these questions is to outline a map for yourself. Eventually you will recognize how you evaluate prospects for your cheer-leading squad without thinking. But you also need to develop some ground rules.
What is the purpose of the support team? It has been my experience that the most consistently successful people in business have those folks around them that can provide support. I'm not talking about suck-ups, at least not in the most obvious sense. We are talking about people who may even see it somewhat self-serving but want to help you so you may eventually help them. Not necessarily a stated quid pro quot but certainly it can be implied. It will vary with the individual. I've known school principals that had great relationships with janitors to their mutual benefit, for example.
How you choose your support team also depends on the situation. The type of support you get can come in many forms. I know a real estate magnate that has a hold on LinkedIn, the business social network product, like no one else. From doctors to lawyers to candlestick makers, Frank has made his association with all of these important people. Through that social network, he can disseminate information to his associates which make him valuable to them - and they then recognize his expertise and expound on it to their friends. Another associate of mine is finding a connection within the "New American" group of India/Pakistani immigrants. He has learned the immigrants have a communication network that acts as a support group between the individuals. This allows those needing jobs, employment, or those needing an investment opportunity direction and connections to get funding and other support.
The most difficult scenario is in small office situations. Obvious butt kissing isn't acceptable or suggested. Developing policy is always a role of a leader. Even within your own cubicle group, you can develop policy as to how you are to be approached. It is amazing how people will honor these requests and if handled properly, you can actually improve your position in the office due to your making your space your own.
In larger offices, it is always great to work with the mail-room person, the receptionist, the janitor, all of the peripheral support staff that no one else pays a minutes time. These people are often very good people and often good observers of what is really going on. I'm not talking gossips, I'm talking about relationships and evidence of coming change. Often, support persons are informed of coming change before staff gets the word because they are needed to enforce the change. Keep this in mind.
The take-away I hope you found within these few words are to build your support team - with a plan on how you are going to do it - and why! Be like my friend and mentor Karl and build your network with the intent of seeing everyone be promoted to their greatest potential.