We like to share some of our thinking

I wish .....

David Armes | 28th September 2018

Team Talk

……everyone wanted to be a bit more commercial.


This is increasingly the opening response to my question. ‘what would you like your team to be better at, if you are to achieve your business aspirations?’.


This wish has always been there to some degree or other, its just with growth harder to come by for many, it is getting more central to fix.


If this question has been around for a while why have so many companies not cracked the answer. Is it because they haven’t?

  • Trained people to be commercial, well enough

  • Got the right people and therefore need to recruit new personalities

  • Got the right environment for people to be commercial in

Well it is in fact a combination of all 3.


If it is all 3 then where should you start?

In my experience most effort goes into fixing the problem in the order they are written. Let’s train our team, then see who will step up and whether we need to recruit some new personalities and then finally we will look to adjust how people work, what they are measured against and the culture they work in.


Sound sensible?


I have recently read a fantastic book called The Choice Factory by Richard Shotton which looks at how findings from behavioural science can be applied to advertising. A lot of what he writes about equally applies to changing behaviour in the workplace – Why? Because it is based on human behaviour.


The key themes I have taken are:


  • If your teams are rushing and feel under pressure to complete their existing ways of working they will not consider the new, even if they have the personality and motives to want to do it. We therefore need to create the space/context/time for them to stop and change.

  • Changing habits is hard. A window when they are most likely to is when their environment does. We should therefore focus any training/immersion as soon as people get new roles, structures, job descriptions

  • We need to be aware of the bystander effect e.g. if everyone thinks they need to do it (be commercial) then potentially everyone will think that someone else is doing it, and therefore no one will!!  We need to be explicit about each and everyone’s responsibility in driving the organisation forward commercially

  • We need to think about social proof. Getting people to be interested in being commercial because others are. First followers are critical here


If you truly want to change your teams to become commercial you need to put as much effort into the environment in which they work as giving them the confidence and energy to go out and talk to clients.