According to the Rule of 10, anytime a new initiative is introduced, out of every ten people affected by it, three will adopt it right away, three are never going to do it, and four are going to sit on the fence until they can determine how serious you are.
If that is true, then which of the three groups should the manager focus on first?
The people who are going to create the new future are going to need the oxygen that comes from your time and your attention. So, you want to pay a lot of attention to the early adopters first.
They are not only creating early success, which is something you will want to promote, but they are also making early mistakes which will help the rest of the team avoid the pitfalls that inevitably exist in all new efforts. And, if you think about it, they are the right people to make the mistakes because they are the least likely to become discouraged.
Next, pay attention to the middle four.
Remember that they represent the force of inertia. So, once they adopt new behaviors, they will want to keep doing them, which is going to help you create momentum towards the new direction you want to take. Recognize them and brag about them when their numbers show that they are beginning to adopt your initiative. Their success will help create belief among the other members of the team.
And that brings us to the bottom three.
One of the biggest misunderstandings about the Rule of 10 is to assume that the bottom three need to be fired. That makes no sense.
First of all, the bottom three are likely to be veterans who currently manage a significant portion of your revenue and who are holding out for the completely rational reason that they have the most to lose. You don't want to get rid of them, but you also have to be careful not to let them distract you or create doubts in your head about the practicality of your initiative or the speed with which you are adopting it.
So what do you do with the people who don't want to play?
The answer lies where everything begins and ends for us at Creative Resources: With the client in mind.
If the new direction in which you are taking your business is ultimately a benefit to your clients, then you need to think about your most valuable clients and ask yourself whether it's OK that those clients are not getting the best that your company has to offer.
And you will probably find yourself in a conversation in which those sales people will have to choose whether or not they want to continue to manage your valuable clients.
"Look, if you want to manage these clients, then you have to sell this way."
And you let them choose.
In my experience, once you have the rest of the team moving in the right direction, it is rare that a manager had to go that far with a talented sales person who belongs on the team.
When you are setting a new direction for your team, focus first on the people who are going to create momentum. The rest will follow.