Make a Measurable Change in 2018

give gift coachingWith the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays fast approaching, the new year will soon be knocking at our doorsteps.  What I love about a New Year’s Eve Toast is that it represents a new beginning—a fresh start to new possibilities.  Whether a formal declaration is made in the form of a New Year’s resolution or not, I believe the ball drop in New York Times Square causes each of us to reflect on some change we want to make in the coming year that would improve our lives.

Other pressing priorities, diminished willpower, and “good” excuses typically result in us not following through with our good intentions.  The lack of a detailed plan, poor definition of measurable milestones, and no accountability partner reduce the chance that you will meet your stated goals.  Most people benefit from a coach—a partner—someone who helps you develop a plan and set milestone targets, who challenges you, and who holds you accountable. Coaches also help you strategize on ways to overcome obstacles that are standing in the way of achieving your goal.

You may be suffering in your job, struggling to have influence at work and in personal relationships, or needing an overhaul with your personal finances.  Making measurable changes in behavior is a doable yet difficult task.  You may be successful in making these changes through your own education and determination; however, I’d suggest you might improve your success by choosing to engage a coach as your partner.

Is 2018 the year you’ll commit to make a positive permanent change in your life? If so, I’d like to suggest you consider hiring a coach. If you’d like to give the gift of coaching to yourself or a friend, you can take me up on a special offer I would love to discuss with you.  Reach out for a conversation so we can understand what you want to achieve. You have nothing to lose.  The conversation is free!

You can reach me at 281.793.3741 or sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and personal growth.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

The Immeasurable Gift of a Simple Thank-You Letter

As the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays approach, people start to rack their brains, scour the web, and sometimes agonize over what gifts, no matter how large or small, to give their family, friends, colleagues, and business associates.  Although I would wager that no one will completely eliminate this annual tradition of pre-holiday preparation, I can suggest a new tradition that might make it easier to “buy” for at least three people on your list.pen and paper 2

How many descriptively, meaningful hand-written thank you notes have you received? Usually the answers range from never to less than a handful. This year I hope to change that by suggesting a tradition that I started in 2011.  On a Thanksgiving road trip with my then boyfriend, now husband, I suggested we start an annual tradition of sending handwritten thank-you notes to a few people who had the greatest impact on our lives that year.  These less than a handful of friends, family, associates, authors, or public figures could have performed a service, shifted a paradigm in thinking, changed our life path, showed a kindness, or did something worthy of thoughtful recognition.

During a time when electronics rule, cursive is becoming hieroglyphics, and the depth of relationships is being sacrificed for width, the arrival of a handwritten thank-you note that describes the impact someone has made is guaranteed to be one of the greatest gifts anyone can receive.  Why not start the tradition to make someone feel appreciated?

If this concept sounds intriguing, I would suggest this perfect gift is no further than the pen and paper sitting in your desk drawer.   Spend some time reviewing the conversations and interactions you’ve had this year and select 2-3 people that are worthy of a shout out of praise in how they’ve impacted your life.  Get into the details as you write those letters.  Surprisingly, you may find that as you think of those people of influence, the gift you receive in return is one of gratitude.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

How to Successfully Transition from Field Sales to Sales Manager

sales manager 2Most sales manager positions are filled through the field sales pipeline.  Although sales person and sales manager both share the word “sales” in their titles, their roles, responsibilities, skills, and schedules are different unless the sales manager has the dual role of sales.  In fact, some highly successful sales people do not enjoy or make the best sales managers. However, if your expertise is sales, and you are now responsible for managing a sales team versus only yourself, below are some strategies that might set yourself up for success in your new role.

Organize Your Time

As a sales person you likely had one primary goal—meet your sales target.  As a sales manager, you will be managing multiple people, programs, and priorities. Multi-tasking will be required, because you will likely be pulled in several directions on a daily basis. Although everything will seem urgent, one of your most important assignments will be to manage and lead your sales team.

Leveraging a 2-month rolling schedule, you should block out time to travel with your sales people as they visit customers.  Treat this time as untouchable.  You will use this valuable time for those one-on-one conversations to strategize, coach, and invest in your sales people so they feel part of the team.  While spending time with them, keep the phone turned off to minimize distractions.  Spending time in the field will also allow you to get a pulse on the market, gather first-hand information on your customers, and strengthen your relationship with your sales team.

Manage Your Boss

If you were a sales person meeting your sales targets, you likely did not have to manage your boss. Your focus was managing your customers.  By default the numbers managed your boss.  Your boss likely left you to your own devices as he focused on more pressing internal demands.

In your new role as sales manager, you may need to manage your boss to minimize your daily distractions.  Using your calendar, establish a reoccurring weekly meeting with your boss—preferably on the same day and time of the week.  Agree to save items to discuss during this uninterrupted time. This ritual should help to minimize daily distractions that break your concentration.  Prior to your regular meeting, send an email listing the topics you agreed to discuss.  If you overlooked any or your boss has additional items, you can add them to the list and still have time to prepare.  One hour should be sufficient.  If you find yourself routinely short of time, agree to schedule separate meetings to discuss those weightier topics.

Exercise Your “No” Muscle

You were your customers’ advocate for price, quantity, quality, and service.   You were chartered and commissioned to sell.  Because you were conditioned to say “yes” to the customer, telling the customer “no” was likely a word that made you feel at least slightly uncomfortable.

A sales manager has a responsibility to weigh all the benefits and costs from the customers’ requests and make a decision that is aligned with the overall interest of the company.  Successful sales managers typically find they say “no” more frequently than they did as a sales person. Get comfortable saying “no,” yet be open to negotiation and compromise.

Build Alliances with Internal Stakeholders

As a sales person, you were by design externally focused on winning your customers’ business.  You likely spent little of your valuable time developing strong relationships with the internal stakeholders beside Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service.  The reality—no one in the office was buying the products you were selling.

The sales manager position is part of the company’s leadership team, and in order to lead well, you will need strong relationships with other members in Finance, HR, and Operations.  These relationships with other department leaders will make it easier to negotiate requests for deadlines and streamline work.  You are now an advocate for the sales staff, clearing the path for your sales team so they can meet their sales goals.

Putting It All to Work

Although these four guiding principles are not all-inclusive or a one-size fits all, incorporating some or all of these strategies will likely help you successfully transition from sales person to sales manager.  If you have any other suggestions that worked for you, I welcome your comments and stories.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Why OVER-QUALIFIED Can Deliver UBER-VALUE

Average life expectancy continues to climb with Americans in good health easily reaching their 80’s.  Age and financial necessity are influencing how long people are working and in what capacity.  Many seasoned professionals are trying to redesign their work/life balance and are surprised in how challenging the process has been to secure that desired lower responsibility job.

As a coach, I see many clients in their late 40’s and 50’s who have had a long and expansive career and are eager to either transfer their skills to another industry or gain back more work/life balance by applying for jobs in whichadding value they are knowingly over-qualified. These career or job changers initially assumed it would be easy to step down into a position of less responsibility.  On the contrary, they were surprised at the inherent prejudice in the hiring process when they routinely encountered managers who were not interested in interviewing an over-qualified applicant.

I can only assume that these employers are fearful of over-qualified candidates that will leave as soon as a better job comes along or that the supervisor feels threatened by the candidate’s experience in a direct report role.  For these reasons, many over-qualified candidates appear to be intentionally passed over.  I propose 5 reasons why hiring an over-qualified person may be the best hiring decision a company could make this year.

  1. Value, Value, Value: Over-qualified candidates understand a company pays for the roles and responsibilities of the position and not the qualifications of the person. If this candidate is willing to accept a competitive salary, a company is certainly getting more value for its money. What a great return on investment to report to the stockholders.
  2. Faster Growth: Having already seen and done that, over-qualified candidates may be able to get the team where they want to go faster.  Prior experience and learning can be helpful in developing a more effective strategy and in executing plans well.  Experience is a great asset!
  3. Mentorship: People who intentionally accept lower responsibility jobs usually enjoy mentoring less experienced colleagues. These over-qualified candidates are both knowledgeable and capable of becoming trainers and mentors to other employees without a great investment of other resources.
  4. Performance: Not only do these candidates bring a wealth of information, they are typically happier with their work/life balance. They bring an energy to work that can be contagious.  They perform well in their jobs and set an example for others.
  5. Leadership: Companies need leaders throughout the organization.  Leaders are the ones that companies rely on to rally the organization and get the job done.  Over-qualified employees inspire and support others to perform well and are usually the best cheerleaders on the team!

Not all over-qualified candidates will necessarily be a good fit.  I acknowledge some candidates apply for jobs they are over-qualified for based on financial necessity and continue to look for an upgrade.  There are, however, many overqualified candidates who are intentional in finding an environment where they can contribute despite a salary below their historical pay grade.  Identifying these over-qualified candidates, who bring uber-value, is best handled through a conversation versus making assumptions on why they applied for the position.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Behaviors That Make You a Better Leader

lead learnWhen you recall those times you were led well, what were some of the affirming behaviors that stood out to you in those leaders?  Because leadership is about influence, we are all affected by leadership acting within our lives.  We learn about leadership by reflecting and putting into practice those behaviors that we feel were constructive in our success.  I share a few traits that I believe great leaders embrace based on my role models.  Better leaders do the following:

  1. Create a productive work environment by reducing bureaucracy and minimizing roadblocks. Although they don’t do the work, they create an atmosphere where the team and its individuals can get their jobs done.
  2. Acknowledge and give credit to those who do the work. Credit can be recognized for effort, creativity, and results.
  3. Encourage and praise. Leaders are intentional in identifying and calling out specific things that warrant recognition.  They don’t simply use flowery language such as “great job” but provide concrete examples that demonstrate that they recognize the value of the contribution.
  4. Never micro-manage but are liberal in their coaching. They understand the strengths and weaknesses of their team, brainstorm with its members, challenge with powerful questions, and ensure the team has the resources to tackle the job.
  5. Create a safe environment where people don’t feel threatened to take reasonable risks. They don’t focus on punishment and expect people to learn from their mistakes.
  6. Provide clear vision and objectives, set priorities, describe desired outcomes, and define appropriate boundaries. They understand the importance of helping the team to focus.
  7. Genuinely care about their teams. Leaders respectfully learn about the non-work lives of the people they support and have insight in how other life areas may influence job performance.

What leadership characteristics are you strongest?  What weaknesses could you improve upon to grow your leadership?  If you’ve identified another leadership trait that impressed you, tell me about it by leaving a comment.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.