During the past 20 months I have had the chance to experience the Grecian work environment. The Greeks are known for partying hard (see My Big Fat Greek Wedding) and working a balanced schedule. On my travels abroad, I hear many complaints from Europeans that Americans only think about the 3Ms - moneymaking, music, and movies (in that order). Well, it's hard to argue with a country (United States) that produces the highest gross domestic product in the world, but we can utilize some ideas from the Europeans when it comes to managing stress and relieving the workplace of "toxic fumes" (aka "bad office environment").
David Lewis, a workplace psychologist, conducted a recent online survey of 2,544 office workers over age 18 in the U.S. and five European countries. The results concluded that long office hours and a "result-driven" working culture are causing stress, anxiety, and depression at more severe levels for Americans than for their foreign counterparts. This leads to increased potential health risks for ulcers, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. U.S. workers were more likely to be concerned with keeping the boss happy, while this was the lowest priority in Italy.
In Greece, the workday normally starts at 10 a.m. and ends between 6 and 7 p.m. This schedule seems to be
based more on the country's culture than the requirements of radio station management; it also appears healthy and offers more flexibility to station personnel.
So how do we clear out the toxic fumes from the office and get a more organized sales department? Here are some notes worth taking:
From management's perspective:
1. Training: People feel more confident and experience less stress if they are well prepared to do their jobs. Do you have your first quarter's training agenda ready? Do your sales reps know what to expect? Are they involved in the training effort either on the streets with new reps or participating in sales meetings?
2. Communication: Sharing information with employees/ reps means they can work to influence productivity before a problem becomes a crisis for the company.
3. Assistance: A workplace culture that provides access to fitness and wellness programs can eliminate stress and toxicity. From a sales reps perspective:
1. Have a master "to do" list. It's amazing that some reps don't have a basic "to do" list to help them stay organized. The list can be maintained with a computer program such as Act or Goldmine.
2. Presort mail. Use headers such as "To File," "To Read," and "To Contact" (write or call).
3. Take end-of-the-day notes. Just before leaving each day, jot down unfinished business: calls not returned, projects that are incomplete, meetings to schedule. Don't waste time figuring out what needs to be done tomorrow.
4. Aim for effectiveness, not neatness. Neatness alone can lead to wasted time if you put things away just to clear your desk. If you're like me, sometimes you put things away and forget where you put them.This might also have something to do with aging (see any survey on the aging process).
5. Track your accounts. Do you have an accurate tracking system with projected numbers on all active clients for the upcoming year? Do you ensure that nothing falls through the cracks?
6. Top 5. In our annual planning meetings, each sales rep is required to list the Top 5 things they need help with for the first six months of the year. This list later is updated during bi-annual meetings.Example:
- Product knowledge
- Spec spots: Specific number per week/month
- Selling entire inventory including nights, weekends, overnights, specials, and sponsorships
- Good call mix: Prospecting, customer marketing profiles, presentations, etc.
- Account list management: Segmenting your account lists
If you're stressed out and overwhelmed working for a company with unrealistic productivity targets or unattainable top-down sales goals, try the above suggestions and clean out the toxicity in your workplace.