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Management Guru Says Agents Must Trust Their Lieutenants

A lesson in leadership.

That’s what Chuck Mache, founder and principal at Chuck Mache Communications, a sales and leadership consultancy based in Santa Rosa, California, says most agents need.

Speaking at the Intelisys 2014 Channel Connect Channel Connect conference in Napa, California, Mache told attendees at a keynote session that organizational effectiveness starts with leaders and cascades down through every employee in an organization.

The pratfall that trips up too many companies? Failure to look beyond that immediacy of the task at hand, whether it’s answering a phone call or preparing a bid. Managers get tied up in their world and fail to look beyond “reacting” to what they really should be doing, he said. This includes investing in people, honing processes and refining strategy.

“Poor management will kill a company, even a robust one,” he said in an interview after speaking on stage. “[Too many agents] manage with an egocentric point of view,” he added. “When I speak with principals and every word is ‘I, I, I’ I know that’s a company headed in the wrong direction.”

In a main-stage panel discussion with VARs and solutions providers, Mache showcased how companies can shift their perspective. His main advice when it comes to hiring and leadership: Take the emotion out of key decisions.

“Put numbers between you and every decision you make. This includes hiring. If you are dealing with a subpar team, it’s your fault. And when you have a good team in place, let them know it. Treat your inside team like you would a customer,” he advised.

The advice sounds simple, but is not always easy to implement, said Mike Oliver, founder of SOLUS Network Solutions, a telecommunications agency based in Sacramento, California. He, for example, has learned to look past his own instincts and opinions and vet job candidates more thoroughly. When it came time to hiring a sales leaders three years ago, for example, he had his lieutenants interview a prospective candidate, his distribution partner Intelisys, and finally his wife. Doing so helped take emotion out of the process. Oliver also created a spreadsheet and meticulously reviewed the numbers.

Angie Tocco, the co-founder and owner of LanYap Networks, a Phoenix-based telecommunications agency, spoke in terms of developing a “robo-process” that also adhered to strict financial guidelines. On stage, she shared with fellow agents a story about implementing stricter internal metrics and the outcome it had on her talent pool. After reviewing the company’s finances, she decided to let go of two, long-term employees that were not living up to expectations. Though well-liked, they were kept on board largely for sentimental reasons, she realized. So the company replaced them employees with hungrier and more aggressive workers right out of college. The company is stronger for the change, Tocco said.

“You have to learn to get over yourself,” she advised her peers. “We worried about the dumbest things, the bulls**t that goes through your head,” she said. When her organization let go of the two senior employees, she worried about the “blowback” that might happen throughout the rest of the industry. In retrospect, she realized that that was silly. The industry barely noticed and her company moved on, she said.

“A lot of us are control freaks. If you hire someone, don’t stand over them and micromanage. Give them the power to do their job. You have to give them clear-cut job description, especially when you live in a lean environment,” said Tocco.

Daniel Passacantilli, the owner of the Blue Front Telecom Group agency of Boston, echoed Tocco’s sentiments. He said listening to Mache and others like him helped him trust in others more and not feel the pressure to carry his company “on his back.”

“When you work in a barn all day, you forget what it smells like after a period,” he said. “So you have to step back and trust that others can take you places where you alone cannot go.”


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