Let’s make it clear from the beginning. Well-being at work is not a soft issue, but a key success factor of sustainable performance in business! Or have you ever heard about successful leader or sales person whose attitude towards everything new is cynical and negative, whose professional self-esteem has collapsed or who feel so exhausted that even sleeping around the clock throughout the weekend won’t remove the two black donuts around their eyes?
There are two similar elements that are crucial in the sales and leadership professions.
Firstly, both of these professions are in touch with delivering transformation, change and new ways of operating that affect people. It calls for hard work to get the team to understand and get enthusiastic about recently introduced strategic targets that require new types of behaviour from individuals.
Or how to get the customer encouraged to take a leap of faith in order to begin a test run with your company’s new product which will save X% of lead time plus enable savings in energy cost, but which is totally new and therefore a solution with no guarantee of success.
Secondly, leaders and sales people receive multi-layered feedback, observations and signals about the reality the company and its top management are not yet aware of, or even interested in to begin with. The crucial feedback they receive is not neutral and well constructed, but often fragmented information filled with emotions. This is because the customer or employee experience is most often linked to emotions, and emotions are transferred in communication.
Sometimes the experience may not be so positive, and we can just guess how the feedback is given then. However, all information should be collected, and if one loses the professional balance and openness for it, these valuable signals may be lost due to the defensive behaviour of the leader or sales person.
Therefore, the challenge for leaders and sales people is twofold. Your task is to help your customers and/or employees to create something valuable and new, often in uncertain conditions, and then you need to be prepared to receive feedback and signals in all forms, and deliver them as a package of well-grounded suggestions to your company.
This requires high emotional intelligence and capacity, a systematic professional way of working and multiple ways to ensure the recovery and renewal of your own resources to cope and enjoy working.
In the programme of occupational well-being at Kiilto, we have set up the metrics to follow and run concrete actions to make them alive. Even if we have received several public recognitions during the last years (e.g. the most active workplace in Finland by the Finnish Olympic Committee), we still have a lot of work to do. There is no magic formula, but there are five focus areas that call for concrete day-to-day actions and continuous improvements.
These are 1) well performed leadership, 2) continuously developing professional competence, 3) appreciation of sporting lifestyle, 4) support for taking care of one’s own health, and 5) safe and healthy work environment.
If you work as a leader or sales professional, I hope you get all the possible support to your valuable work from your company. But if you don’t really feel that way, try to find some reliable and experienced peers to share your reflections about work or join in to the professional development programmes to get encouraged and keep yourself going forward professionally. Never forget that through your positive attitude, open and curious mindset and your systematic way of working, it is possible to create value for the people around you, whether they are team members, colleagues or customers.
Article by Antti Uski, HR Director at Kiilto