How many great ideas do you have that never get off the ground? How often have you thought ‘if I did X it would it help me/my team increase sales’ – and yet you’ve never quite got round to it? If you’ve answered yes to either of those questions – what was your excuse?
When I ask sales people this question, most say: “Too busy”, or “Not enough time”. The decision to prioritise work that is more important to you than the good of the business is a recurring theme that lies at the heart of many workplace problems.
Many sales managers cannot ‘let go’ of the single-minded focus on getting the work done and achieving the personal results that got them promoted. They still work hard, but it’s not managerial work.
A recent Gallup survey concluded that 82% of managers are ‘wrongly appointed’. Are you included in that statistic? It’s incredibly costly for the bottom line if you are.
We value a good work ethic. But has it now become the single currency of business?
Rather than delegate, too many sales managers simply try to work longer and harder. In order to remain busy, you fill your calendar with meetings. You send and receive hundreds of emails. You lose sight of what’s truly important, hoping that your prodigious effort will prevail. You are afraid to let go because you are afraid that we will be seen as lazy.
So what can you do differently?
1. Focus on the results, but delegate the tasks: The simple logic that a team is capable of more and better output than just one person is impossible to ignore.
Required Decisions: Take full responsibility for your role as manager. Get help to write great goals and sales team performance plans. Make the decision to ‘let go’ of day to day work tasks, and ask your team to help you with this.
2. Reduce meetings and email by 50%: Research has shown that most of us waste 20% of our time in unnecessary, poorly managed meetings, and another 20% dealing with large volumes of valueless emails. For a medium sized company of a thousand people, that’s the equivalent of four hundred people doing no actual work.
Required Decisions: Learn about email etiquette and rigorously apply it. Commit to reduce emails by 50%, and only read emails two or three times per a day. Learn how to run effective well-structured meetings. Speak to colleagues face-to-face rather than send an email. Prioritise meetings with team members.
3. Coach and develop team members: Recognise that the capability and motivation of individual team members may differ. Your success as a manager will be as a result of the quality as well as quantity of their output.
Investing your time in helping each team member become as brilliant at the job as you were is common sense. This will not only deliver great results, but it will enhance your reputation.
Required decisions: Arrange regular coaching and development conversations with each team member. Develop your capability as a coach and results will follow.
Many employees describe organisations and their cultures as toxic, with destructive levels of stress. We are not machines and we cannot cope with the sheer volume of stuff we bombard each other with – all in the name of having a ‘good work ethic’.
Top sales people already have strong commitment; so let’s not get carried away by continuously striving to prove it with more and more work. Less is more here - it’s simple common sense that’s good for business, and good for you.
By Kieran Hearty, Executive Coach, Consultant and Leadership Speaker with over 30 years experience across international technology and financial services companies. Kieran’s successful programmes have made a huge difference to thousands of managers and leaders who he has coached and developed worldwide. Kieran is author of the business book ‘How to Eat the Elephant in the Room’.