Tag Archive | retail sales

Gotta Be Coached

Just when I thought things were picking up, I learned there was an emphasis on the word “temp” in the phrase “temp agency.” I was hoping for a longer run, but the work dried up and the need for me was no more.

A lot of good came from having a job again. Probably the most important thing was being able to pay off one of the smaller creditors. Unfortunately I also had a $500 car repair bill, which would have helped to pay off more of my debts if I didn’t need the repair. It is what it is.

Before I left New Jersey, when I had just started with an insurance job, there was one day during training when one of the owners of the agency came in to our class and spoke to us. He gave us four things to remember to do:

  1. Write down your dreams
  2. Be coachable
  3. Have a good attitude
  4. Let go of fears

At the time, I wasn’t writing down my dreams even though the idea of going to Japan was at the forefront. I did have a good attitude, as I was convinced, even while I was watching everything fall apart, that I was doing just fine and that my problems at the time were starting to turn around. I didn’t even think of my fears, so how could I let them go? What was I even afraid of at that time? As for being coachable, I wasn’t in a position to be coached, so I didn’t have to worry about that at the time.

I was coached once in this past month. When I was told I would be coached at some point during that day, it felt like the equivalent of saying to me, “wait until your father gets home.” I was a bit nervous, wondering what I had done wrong in my calls and everything else.

It wasn’t as terrible as I had anticipated, though. To begin, one of my calls was audited and I scored a 92 out of 100. That came later during the coaching session. The coaching actually started with trying to overcome rejections, people telling me they weren’t interested and me accepting that as an answer. I was also asked to change the tone I used for the introduction script, as I was far too cheerful and also sounded like a recording. My boss played one of my calls, and it was one where some woman answered the phone with a curt, “What do you want?” I went into the introduction, completely broken out of the tone I had been using.

“You were talking so naturally,” my boss remarked.

“Yeah, because I was scared of her!”

My boss talked about how I could carry on conversations rather well, as he had asked about my umbrella earlier in the day and I was telling him that no, it wasn’t actually a sword even though the handle looked like a katana. I love that umbrella because it always sparks a conversation or at least catches someone’s glance.

But the meeting wasn’t entirely me being told what to do or what I was doing wrong. If I had questions, I asked them. Sometimes I asked if I was doing something right, or if it was acceptable at all. Sometimes if I was given advice, I would slightly question that advice or explain why I was doing things my way, because I was looking to understand the methods used instead of just blindly doing things a certain way.

I walked out of that coaching session feeling pretty good about things. Better still, I applied some of the advice I had been given, and I noticed an improvement in my metrics, my number of completed surveys per hour.

So understandably, I was sad when work dried up because I’m not working there now. I feel like things had just begun, you know? I was honing my skills, and now I have to see where I’ll be going next.

But I was coachable. And it worked out well.

There is another side to this. Not that there was a time when I wasn’t coachable, although I’m sure I’ve had stubborn moments when I just didn’t understand what I should have done and then didn’t change.

I had one job where my immediate supervisor actually refused to talk to me.

I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting a uniform shirt. Someone said I had to “earn” the shirt, but no one told me what I needed to do to earn it. My first shirt was a pink shirt, for breast cancer awareness month, which meant I still needed the regular blue shirt by the end of the month, but it was a start and I wouldn’t need to wear my own shirt anymore. When I got my name tag, my first name was split, and below that it said “Media” while everyone else in my department had a name tag that said “Media Specialist.” After a year, I was no longer on the schedule, despite my willingness to pick up extra shifts when people couldn’t work when they were scheduled. I knew exactly who my immediate supervisor was, and we were rarely scheduled at the same time, but when I did see him, he was always too busy to talk to me. So I never knew what, if anything, I was doing wrong. All I knew was I wasn’t getting the best treatment, but I stuck with it because I thought things could improve or that I could show that I’m actually a decent employee.

Of the four points I mentioned, while I agree with all of them, I think being coachable is so often overlooked and forgotten. I think people get into this mindset of doing things how they want to do them, or they might do their own research to see how to improve, but I don’t think people actually invest the time to talk to others who could point out their flaws and how to change. Even if a person allows someone else to tell them what needs to change, I don’t think enough people actually try to understand what’s being said, they might think they know the advice they’re being given but they don’t know how to apply it or how to change.

And also, write down your dreams. I think I’m going to go do that now. Oh wait, isn’t that why I have a blog?

Workplace Awards

I feel like I’ve filled out more job applications in the past two years than I ever have before, and that’s despite the fact that I’ve actually been employed twice in that time. I’m at the point where I dread having to fill out an application by hand because there’s no way to populate the fields from my résumé or from another website where I’ve entered all of my career information. It’s about as redundant to me as small talk on a dating website, but at least there’s the promise of being paid if the job application leads somewhere.

One of my biggest peeves is when there’s a space to fill in any awards or accomplishments while at a particular job.

I realize there are jobs out there that actually celebrate good performances, so being a hard-worker sometimes pays off and sometimes it’s good luck. If you put in more time and effort than your peers who skip out five minutes early every day, you deserve an award. If you manage to get the most sales, you deserve an award. If you’re the reason why people keep coming back and it’s not because you did something wrong, you deserve an award.

However, if you got the most sales, it’s not always because you were skillful at closing a sale. It’s possible to be fortunate enough to get people who weren’t going to refuse your service and needed what your company offers. It’s possible that the ones on the low end keep getting customers who are on the fence and wouldn’t have closed a sale even if the best salesperson was speaking with them. The people with the fewest sales might just need to understand that they are doing something wrong, and what it is, and sometimes it takes the right person using the right words to get that message through to the struggling salesperson.

And then you have managers. Not all managers are blessed with a skilled team, and some can’t see the faults of their subordinates or know how to properly educate them to do better. Some businesses congratulate a well-performing team from time to time, but I haven’t heard of any company that evaluates why other teams were underperforming.

I don’t have any awards that I can put on a résumé. I could probably brag about getting a “kudos” when a customer said I did a good job back in 2005. However, that’s one customer out of hundreds that I’ve dealt with in the past 12 years. That’s not to say that I don’t have a few more satisfied customers, just that only one has spoken to a supervisor about me and it’s been put in writing that I was awesome. One customer isn’t much to write home about, so I don’t mention it.

I don’t even try to get awards. If I’m good, I’ll achieve something, but if I try, I’ll stress myself out and disappoint myself when I fail. So I go to work, I clock in, I do what I must, and then I go home.

What about the days when I’m not even up to my regular standards? I’ve gone to work while ill, when I had a bacterial infection in my respiratory system and couldn’t walk to the back of the store without being out of breath by the time I got there. I’ve gone to work with bronchitis, when my bosses wouldn’t let me take any more days off and I have to take phone calls in a call center when I don’t even have a voice. I’ve worked while I’ve had a parent in the hospital on their death bed, when a part of me has wanted to be by their side but another part reminded me that I needed the money and I convinced myself that I might be able to get my mind off of things if I kept busy. Of course, there’s no awards for going to work when you’re not up to snuff, when you’re physically and emotionally drained. The Center for Disease Control would love it if you avoided people while you’re ill, but your bosses always want to keep your seat warm and will be willing to replace you. And no one cares if your parents are dying, but you can get time off once they’ve passed.

So my job application probably looks like most of the other applications being submitted. Then again, maybe I’m the only one without any awards to her name. I don’t actually mind, because maybe I wasn’t in the right place to get an award, or on the right team to develop my skills to one day achieve something great. That’s not to say I don’t already have the right skills, just that I wasn’t in the right place or had the perfect opportunity to use what skills I do have. While I’m looking for that perfect opportunity, I’m definitely building my job application skills. It’s a shame that those skills only pay off when I land a job.