Inside Sales Manager

About a month ago, I talked about the challenges I’ve faced when managing conflict and I offered a couple of ways to address these obstacles that I’ve learned over the years. Since then, I’ve really made a point to consider alternatives to proactively manage conflict.

However, maybe “conflict” doesn’t have to be such a dirty word. It’s all in the tone with which we choose to approach a potentially contentious situation. Being assertive doesn’t have to be ugly if we come at it from the right angle.

I considered AG Salesworks to be a very accommodating environment the day I walked in the door. This of course suited me well, since I’ve always found it easier to go with the flow as opposed to being an agitator. This approach works well when all you have to worry about is yourself, but certainly isn’t effective when you’re tasked with managing others. While I did prefer to be managed in a laid-back manner, I noticed that my COO made a specific point to challenge our thinking when necessary.

Rather than going the safer and more comfortable route, it is periodically appropriate to challenge our conventional thinking. Innovate or die, right?

So recently, I’ve made a specific effort to balance both my assertiveness and my accommodation as an inside sales manager. A professional coach recently introduced me to an interesting model that frames my challenges in this area rather nicely. The model is referred to as the Thomas Kilman Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI). Here is a sample report of what a typical evaluation would look like.

This was an excellent resource for me as an inside sales manager. I was able to narrow down my leadership efforts. I noticed that, through the years, I typically have fallen into the “compromising” category. That was my comfort zone. Ideally, I would prefer to consistently land in the “collaboration” category, but according to the TKI, I need to increase my level of assertiveness.

So, with my goal of moving out of my comfort zone, I plan to be more purposeful in my attempt to try out the new me. I’m not talking about a huge departure, but with the TKI in mind, I’ve seen a slight change in my approach. This is all for the sake of collaboration of course.

Beyond the TKI model, my coach made the suggestion that purposely announcing your intentions (in my case, being more assertive) really helps to eliminate the noise. Say something like, “Guys, I’m trying something new out here. I’m not trying in any way to be contentious, since this isn’t what you’re used to from me, but in the long run, I think it will make us better as a team.” Once your inside sales team understands your intentions and the fact that your experimental managing strategies are for the greater good, it helps to eliminate the feeling that they’re being yelled at.

We all have the tendency to waste time and emotional energy talking about a situation or a person that is an issue for us, rather than just addressing said situation or person directly.

My plan is to task my team with applying the TKI to their daily interactions as well. I’m going to fully savor this collaboration. Bring it on!