Category Archives: Team Work

No Laughs This Week – Just Smiles And Reflection!

This is an older post that I pulled out of the archives today. Instead of laughing this time, I will be smiling and reflecting. My championship hockey team from 1985 lost a teammate way too young last week, and I want to dedicate this post to him and his family… 

I love sales, and I love sports – especially hockey. It’s natural that I see similarities between professional athletes and sales reps, as well as between the roles of sales managers and sport coaches. One story sticks out in my mind, and it has motivated me for close to 30 years now.

Growing up, there were four different tiers of hockey leagues in my city, and I was very excited to be selected to play for the Tier 2 team when I was 11 years old. It was a great group of guys, and the coaches were awesome. We had a pretty good year, but started to slip in the standings towards the end of the season. Six out of ten teams made the playoffs, and we qualified by a narrow margin.

To be honest, I don’t remember the playoff rounds leading up to the finals, but what I remember is how the coaches got us to come together as a team. Players would be asked to play different roles depending on the scenarios that unfolded during the season.  Some players were more skilled than others, and they would be counted on to score. Others were better at defence, and they would be counted on to prevent the other team’s best players from scoring.

We remarkably made it to the finals, and had to play the first place team. They were the top team for the entire season. It was a best of three series. They had one superstar player, who was a big reason that they had advanced to the finals. He was hands down the best player in the league. Our strategy going in to the finals was if we could neutralize that player, and keep him off the scoreboard as much as possible, we would win.

They won the first game. But our coaches were so good, they told us not to panic, and stick to our game plan. If we played better in game two, and continued to focus on the star player, we would still win. Game two was much better, and we kept the star off the score sheet as much as we could. All our players pretty much played the same amount, and we attacked our competitors as one unit. They would play their star player and his supporting cast most of the time. We won game two.

We advanced to game three, it was winner take all. I was so nervous that I thought that I was going to throw up! It was a very evenly matched game, and it went in to over time. I did not know how the families and coaches could bear to watch anymore. I do not remember exactly how long it took, but during the overtime period, the puck came to me by our bench. I skated up the ice with the puck, and one of my team mates had just hopped on to the ice. I sent a pass over to him and he scored the winning goal! We were champions even though nobody thought that we could do it.

What I really got out of that experience was the value of working as a team. A group of people with their own goals do not make a team. The other team relied too much on one player, and in the end that strategy did not work. Our coaches were instrumental in keeping us motivated, positive and continually instilled in us that we could do it! Their confidence in us never wavered for one moment. Losing was never an option.

This is very much like a sales team.  Everyone has their own individual goals. But if team goals are important too, it will create a better work environment for everyone, and a much stronger company overall. There is no better feeling than succeeding when nobody expects you to! And success feels so much better when you have teammates to celebrate with.

  • Have you ever been a part of a winning sports team, and if so, what factors contributed to its success?
  • Do you have any memories of that team that will be with you for the rest of your life?

I Disappeared For A Bit – But I Had A Good Excuse!

I pride myself on showing up at my blog as often as possible. Things got a little “busy” over the past couple of weeks. I had a pretty good excuse for disappearing for a while!

  • I would like to introduce Rowan Gray Knisley Mushey
  • Our 2nd son was born on Dec 5th at 6:41 pm
  • He weighed 10 lbs, 2 oz.
  • He was 22 inches long.

I have attached a link to some pictures if you would like to have a peak:

My wife is a true inspiration, and Elliot is a very proud big brother.

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

We Are All Leaders

Everyone develops leadership qualities personally and professionally in different ways. Many people may not even aspire to be leaders, but “accidentally” end up being role models for others.

You can become a leader very early in your career. It does not necessarily mean that you are a loud “rah rah” person. You don’t have to run around the office “high fiving” everyone, or be super enthusiastic every minute of the day!

I have been very interested in sports leadership for years, and the one who set the bar the highest in hockey since the early 1980’s was Mark Messier. Not only was he known for winning 5 championships, his fierce competitiveness, and leadership qualities, but he was confident. Those who follow hockey closely will remember when he guaranteed victory in the 1994 Stanley Cup Playoffs while playing for the New York Rangers. Not only did they win that game, but they won it all for the first time in 54 years!

For every Mark Messier, there are many others who quietly lead by example in sports, business, and every day life.  I always love the comment,

“They don’t speak up very often, but when they do everyone stops in their tracks to listen.”

Those quiet people are also leading and providing great value.

When I first got in to business, my perception of leadership was very one-sided. I thought that managers and executive management were the only ones who were leaders. Many of them did motivate and inspire their teams, but others unfortunately did not understand the importance of being a positive influence on others.

You can start showing leadership qualities from the moment you start a new role.  Focus on things like:

  • Caring
    • Care about the job that you are doing, your customers, and everyone around you
  • Having a strong work ethic, and becoming a “go to employee”
    • Being the type of person that others want to be around
  • Doing the “little things”, and being attentive to details
  • Doing more than is expected of you
    • “That is not my job” is not in your vocabulary
  • Taking advice and criticism as a professional
    • Being open to learning
  • Supporting team mates and encouraging them
    • Celebrating their wins, and supporting their losses
  • Being enthusiastic & positive
    • Having lots of energy
  • Smiling

Before you know it, people will start to look up to you and aspire to be like you. They notice that you have taken steps forward and have become promotable sooner than most.

Everyone has leadership qualities in some way, shape or form. The million dollar questions are:

  •  Are you using them? And better yet…
  •  Do you want to use them?

Take stock of how you are leading now, and how you may want to lead in the future.

Shhhh… I will tell you a little secret.

You might actually like it if you don’t already!

Tina has been an incredible contributor to my blog, and I wanted to take a moment to share one of her recent posts. She is insightful, forward thinking, and a joy to connect with on a regular basis. This post focuses on great teams, and the best part of it is she received feedback directly from her team members!
Thanks again Tina for your amazing support.
And to my fellow Canadians, Happy Canada Day!

Practical Practice Management A Division of Top Practices

iStock_000000520734Small Be Great…great is contagious.  Ask your team, are we great?  If so, what makes us great?  If not, why not?  Great or not great, how can we improve?

These are excellent questions that need to continually be posed to our team on a regular basis so we can continue to improve on the service we deliver everyday to our customers.

Each team player is different, but as long as we have the same common goal our differences can work together to accomplish great things.

Each player needs to be held accountable for keeping the standards of the practice/business at top priority.  If someone falls below, it needs to be dealt with sooner than later or the effect on the rest of the team can be damaging.

It takes a lot work to keep a team healthy.  Teams also need play time to keep it healthy and happy and allow for…

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Really? Customer Service Is That Bad?

I was recently away on a business trip, and received a phone call from my wife. She was sad to inform me that our PVR (personal video recorder for our TV) had finally died. She promptly made a phone call to our satellite provider, and they gave her two options: 

  • $150 for a repair
  • $500 for a new unit

She proceeded to explain to the agent that one of their competitors was offering a TV and internet package at a very aggressive price. Their response,

“We will note that on your file”.

That’s it? Really?  They will note that on our file?

We may call the competitor and never give our current provider the chance to match packages because of their lack of interest in my wife’s comments. We have had several other issues with their customer service department over the years, so I think it was the “audio-visual gods” way of saying it is time to move on.

Paul Castain had an excellent blog post recently over at Your Sales Playbook which discussed his trip to a local gas station. You can read about his adventures at

Good friends of ours just returned from a family trip to California, and could not believe how they were pretty much “tossed to the curb” by one hotel, but had the “red carpet” rolled out by another.

I have a strategy that has worked for me a couple of times now, in situations where I was negotiating with customer service in regards to products and services for my family over the phone. There is a certain amount of negotiation that goes on, and you can be put on hold a few times as the options are debated back and forth. I start to lose patience quickly, and have a new technique.

Early on I ask them to pretend that I am very irate (only I am still calm) and request that they give me the best deal or result possible. I call it “the freak-out resolution”.  It shows that I am very serious about being well taken care of, but I don’t want to be a jerk about it. The strategy works well, and lets them know that I mean business, and minimal concessions will not be tolerated.

After reflecting about these stories and many more, I could not help but turn my attention to the sales profession. Customer service support is vital to the success of any sales team, and I wonder how often management and reps evaluate the job that these teams are doing for their organizations.

If you are reading this and are not in inside sales / customer service, you need to realize how important they are to your success, or possibly failure. Too many negative experiences with support representatives could turn off customers. As a manager, you need to provide these teams with all the necessary support and ongoing training to give them the best chance to perform their roles to the best of their ability. 

If you are a rep, you need to have great rapport with the team and be able to assist and support them if things ever go terribly wrong. It is probably in your best interest to bring up any larger issues with your manager first, and let them decide who should talk to the person in question. You can ill afford to lose any customers, and certainly not ones where customer service made a mess of things.

Other things matter too. You need to treat this group very well. They are difference makers and make our jobs as outside sales reps much easier. Be easy to work with, and certainly DO NOT treat them like your personal assistants! Who do you think will get preferential treatment when their time is limited? The reps who treat them like crap, or the ones who respect the job that they do, and considers them a valuable part of the team?

The stories are endless about customer service today, but the horrible experiences tend to get shared much more than the positive ones. 

Let’s change things up a bit….

Send me an email at if you want to share a customer service story when they really WOWED you, and exceeded expectations.

Training Camp Speech – Tom Renney, Edmonton Oilers Hockey Coach

For those of you who do not already know, I am a hockey fanatic! I have loved the sport since I went to my first NHL game in 1979. I not only watch it on TV and live at arenas; I have played most of my life. Now I am enjoying coaching my 5 year old son as well.

There are many parallels between sports and business, and I absolutely love this training camp speech given by Tom Renney of the Edmonton Oilers to all of the hopefuls in 2011. Take it at face value in the context of sports, but also think specifically about sales, leadership and business in general. I have included the main part of his conversation with the players below:

“What could the obstacles be for our own success?

  • If you are not willing to sacrifice
  • If you are not willing to put yourself out there
  • If you are not willing to lose a bit of yourself in order to make this team better, in order to help all of us win

If your expectations are just to go out and do your best. If you think good enough is good enough, then quite honestly you won’t be here. This is a process now where you are not just sitting on top of the stove, the element has been turned on. There is nothing like winning, and there is nothing like doing something together that nobody thought you could do.

Pay attention to why you are here. This is not just good enough anymore.

You are here to make a statement on behalf of the Edmonton Oilers. If you want to be a champion, take a championship attitude to your game every day, in no matter what you are doing, and we will be fine.

Hold your self accountable, and be ready to go to work.” – Tom Renney, Edmonton Oilers head coach via the Oil Change TV series

I have also seen this phrase in their dressing room several times and just love it,

“Relentless Together”

Doug Gilmour, NHL Hall of Famer, has a saying that I have been thinking about a lot over the past few months,

“A man shows what he is by what he does with what he has”

Being part of any team is a special experience.

Are you performing your assigned role with 100% effort?

If not, time to step up your game!