Bad Managers, Great Managers.  What makes us one or the other?   Many things differentiate the bad from the great.  One foundational element is effective communication skills.  Tone and Word Choice DO Matter.

Sometimes we learn SO much more from a bad manager’s example than we can from our own experiences.  Case in point:  Doyle Slayton at SalesBlogcast posted an entry with a letter written by a sales manager to his team.  The letter seems to be intended to get everyone fired up for a new year of success. Whether you manage sales people or not, there are some lessons in this.

This sales manager starts by saying that they need to start the first day back 30 minutes earlier than usual.  And here are a couple of excerpts:

  • Please do not be late. Going forward, I do not want to have to wait for anyone to begin our meeting.
  • Expectations for 2009:
    • Dress Code:  Is it comfortable to cold call in jeans…yes, but what sort of attitude does it promote in our office setting? Casualness. 
    • Working from Home: I have never believed in working from home, except when you’re the only rep for a company and you must work from a home office. Each of you is reimbursed every pay period for travel.  When you don’t have an appointment, the company is essentially paying you to drive to work…so, I expect you to be here no later than 8:30 unless you call me first.
    • Vacation/PTO:  When you request a vacation day, I need to know at least two days in advance.  Also, when you request it, do so in the form of a request.
    • Attitude:  This is the most important.  I think we have a team of Winners, not losers. This being said, I know we will lose some deals, but we will win more than we lose. Please keep and maintain a positive attitude..its’ 100% mental!  If you have the will and the drive to win…then you will!  Do we get stressed out?  Of course, but that’s when it’s time to talk to me and take a step back…I will help to bring you back in the game.  I take care of myself in this respect … and I will sometimes demand you do the same…you need to stay healthy and mentally fit so that you can be the best you can be.

What is your reaction? To the tone? Word choices like –  Demand, I, I, I?  Sending a message over a holiday with new demands and to start early?  How does that impact the precious time these folks have away from work?  Do you want to work for this manager?  Yes, leaders need to set expectations, share vision and get results.  And there are many ways to accomplish this.  How motivated do you think this team is?  What energy are they going to bring to Monday morning?

What better words and tone could have been used?  How about some simple ones:  “We” and “this will help you by…”

A great reminder that how we deliver our messages can make the difference in whether we are a GREAT or BAD manager.  Who do you think has the more successful team?

Want to read the full letter?  Click here.  This is a great blog and you can register while you are there!