5 Ways to Help Your Distributors in a Time of Anxiety | 2023
It’s an anxious time for the distributed workforce. From the war in Ukraine to the lingering effects of the pandemic, the fact is that many distributors and brand associates don’t know what’s going to happen next, and it’s concerning them. In an industry that relies so much on commitment and concentration, as well as confidence, it’s mission-critical to have distributors who are not weighted down by anxiety, but rather enthusiastic about what tomorrow might bring. But strong distributed workforce communication can help with the workforce enablement.
A recent poll from the American Psychological Association shows that a significant majority of Americans are stressed about current events, from inflation to war to supply-chain issues. Where earlier polls might have found people stressed about their personal lives, now they are anxious about situations that are almost entirely outside of their control.
Uplines’ natural response might be to turn a blind eye. After all, should anxiety affect our ability to be productive? We’re well-practiced in saying it shouldn’t. It’s culturally engrained in us not to saddle sales performance with the concerns of one’s “personal life.” What if there were a better way for uplines and field leaders to meet the anxieties of the past two years?
5 Methods to Help Distributed Workforce Communication
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About ‘Outside’ Issues
At Rallyware, this hasn’t necessarily been a choice for us – we have a major presence in Ukraine – but we have found that it reflects well on leadership when they speak directly about those issues confronting everyone.
Consider communicating publicly or semi-publicly. Leaders should consider making a statement about current events – not necessarily voicing an opinion, but showing that they are aware of what is happening. Uplines might send an internal communication to their downlines, or make a post on social media. These statements don’t have to be too lengthy or detailed. Distributors will be happy to know you’re thinking of their mental well-being at what might be a sensitive time for some. Still others might see a public message and think, “I want to sell with this company as they have values in place.”
Empathy is the go-to leadership skill of the moment, Fortune writes. Demonstrating empathy isn’t hard. It helps to hear, “We know this is a problem. We’re feeling it too.” This is a simple but effective strategy for helping distributors feel less anxious about the present and more excited to gross more sales. If nothing else, the past two years have been an object lesson in how difficult it is to cleanly separate emotions from productivity, and being honest about this will make distributors feel more comfortable both with their upline and being a representative of the organization.
2. Create Time to Discuss Life Online & Offline Using Distributed Workforce Communication
You might consider planning an optional weekly hour during which distributors can meet and talk about non-direct-sales topics. These might be a fishing expedition from the weekend, a planned vacation to Aruba – or important current events.
By the same token, it’s important that there be a “referee” during these calls – say, an upline to tamp down the intensity if the conversation gets political. There’s a fine line between talking honestly about current events and sharing political opinions. The former is important, while the latter is to be avoided in the distributed workforce, as in any other workforce.
If someone injects politics into the discussion, the call leader can edge them gently away, saying, “Let’s stay away from politics today.” Likewise, in inviting distributors to the weekly talks, uplines can stress that this isn’t a time to talk about partisan issues, but rather a moment to reflect on our lives together.
Relatedly, if you have performance enablement technology that lets segmented communities connect with each other and discuss topics of interest – including stress and anxiety – this helps as well. Such technology can let them move seamlessly from online forums to one-on-one conversations, where distributors can engage in more personal discussions. Rallyware has these features, which you can read a little more about here. Distributed workforce communication is key, and Rallyware helps optimize for that.
3. Normalize Mental Health Time for Direct Sales
Mental health affects everyone, and it’s important to be honest and forthright about that. Yet it’s one thing for uplines and leaders to say that mental health is important, another thing altogether to build mental health into the structure of the sales line. Consider encouraging them to talk to distributors about taking mental health time if they’re clearly feeling anxious or stressed. There’s nothing wrong with stepping away from the sales activity for a bit to work on your mental health.
We have to try not to second-guess people for taking mental health time. After all, you’ll end up improving distributor retention if they have that mental health time to take care of themselves and get back to normal. Though it might feel uncomfortable for uplines to have conversations like these at first, they get easier. And they’re quite valuable. Reducing mental health stigma helps improve mental health.
Don’t believe us? Think about how mental health affects sales productivity. When it’s good, the workforce is productive. When it’s bad, productivity drops. It’s that simple. Here are just a handful of the ways that mental health can affect performance:
- Reduced focus and concentration: People with poor mental health may find it difficult to concentrate and stay focused on their work. This can lead to errors, missed deadlines, and reduced productivity.
- Absenteeism: Mental health problems can cause people not to be productivity. Absenteeism can be a major productivity drain for companies, as it can result in delays, missed deadlines, and increased workloads for team members (if applicable).
- Presenteeism: This refers to the situation where the workforce is ‘being productive’ but not fully engaged due to mental health issues. Presenteeism can lead to reduced productivity, poor quality deliverables, and mistakes.
- Decreased motivation: Mental health problems can lead to decreased motivation, which can make it difficult for the workforce to stay engaged and productive.
- Interpersonal conflict: Mental health problems can cause interpersonal conflict, which can create a negative team environment and decrease productivity.
Overall, mental health problems can have a significant impact on productivity in the workforce. Companies can help by providing resources and support to help the workforce manage their mental health and improve their productivity.
4. Above All – Listen
The culture of a direct sales organization starts with leadership. If leadership is transparent, empathetic, and direct, upline will more readily follow their lead.
Try to create a culture of active listening and positive encouragement. If you use performance enablement software for onboarding, administrators can build in lessons about how uplines should address stress in their downlines, or how distributors can deal with stress.
5. Take the Team Temperature
Lastly, we can’t abandon the possibility that uplines might not know when downlines are stressed, anxious, or overburdened. They might be stressed themselves; they might not think to check in one week, which could lead to a downturn in sales the next week.
Why leave this up to chance? Strong performance enablement technology lets you set-up polls and surveys to take snapshots of the field’s overall sentiment at a moment in time. That technology can then pinpoint which distributors might need some extra emotional attention – whether that’s cheering-up or simple empathy – and trigger a notification saying as much for the relevant upline. Rallyware’s direct sales solution makes it easy to take the temperature of the downline.
Conclusion: Creating a more empathetic direct sales culture doesn’t mean you’re weakening your organization. It means that your organization has a higher chance of succeeding in a time when mental welfare is on the tip of everyone’s tongue, at the front of everyone’s mind. It means you’re placing distributed workforce communication near the core of your business.
Rallyware’s end-to-end performance enablement platform helps lessen anxiety for direct sales distributors – clarifying their business goals and how to reach them. Click here to schedule a time to see Rallyware live.
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