Challenge Your Thinking

6 Danger Signs You May Be Headed to Micro-Management

Do you 'manage people' or mentor and support competencies and activities? Here are six 'macro' tips to avoid the pitfalls of sales micro-management.

1) Do you monitor and manage tasks, or do you identify and train to essential competencies?

Do you want to know the big difference between due diligence and a core competency?

Here's a classic example:

Collecting 50 business cards per day is an act of data procurement, while training to a 60% conversation to appointment ratio is focusing on an essential component to ensure your sales team's success.

Don't focus on accountability to tasks, but enlighten to identification. It's much more important to teach your people the "business" of the business they're in.

If you currently have your sales team accountable to tasks, then you're merely "managing" tasks. In order to become more effective, you should be training on measurement of competencies so your people can 'run their own business.'

2) You measure details not directly related to performance and results.

A telecommunications sales manager proudly told me he requires his sales reps to document '100 dials per day.' I was shocked when I heard this. I asked him if he was in the 'dialing' business or the 'communication' business.

Think about it for a minute. What does the measurement of 'dials' have to do with performance or results? Can you ever improve your dialing skills?

It's insane to waste time and energy measuring that type of stuff when there are so many other "valuable" things to measure.

The focusing of measurement not related to "performance and results" takes you away from the real deal ... essential competencies.

3) You attempt to manage your subordinate's 'time.'

During the playoffs, a winning college coach was interviewed about his coaching philosophy

He said:

"You develop the best game plan you can, build systems and processes to help support it, train everyone how to work within it, and then let the players go out and unleash their natural abilities. You let them play the game between the lines."

Makes sense doesn't it?

Most sales reps will be accountable to results if you identify the important competencies required for success. Your job is to supply targeted training with appropriate structures for learning and application, and measure degrees of improvement.

4) You require detailed forecasting beyond your normal sales cycle.

It's hard to imagine a management strategy more toxic than this one.

Because only two things can result and both are disastrous.

Let's say your average sales cycle is 27 days and you require your team to supply a 30, 60, and 90 day forecast. First of all, the forecasts you get won't be very accurate to the actual results. Second, it will probably be resented and considered 'busy work.'

Here's a much better idea:

Set up your forecast to the time within your control - in this case a 30-day rotating calendar. Define a business rule for forecasting accounts on a weekly basis.

Ask empowering questions:

" Has it passed the defined gateways to be included on your opportunity list?"

" Have you helped the sales rep 'scrub it' to make sure it's realistic and not pie-in-the-sky?"

" Have the proper strategies and tactics been implemented per account to effect a higher closing ratio?"

Bring your forecast accountability back within your normal sales cycle for more focus and better results.

5) Do you see yourself as a people manager or a behavior coach?

Attempting to manage people delivers rather poor results. (It really does!)

People usually resent being 'managed.' They feel controlled and naturally become defensive ... especially sales people who are self-starters and consistent producers. That's why experts say to manage to 'required behaviors.' I have always believed in taking it one step further. Here's an example of what I mean. Webster's dictionary defines behavior as 'an act.' You can tell people how to act or show people how to act. I suggest you do this with transferable systems and powerful routines that are in line with the competencies that will improve their results. (You decide)

6) Is your management style the same for self-starters as it is for mediocre performers?

Think about it ...

Your ultimate goal is to empower ALL your sales people to be self-sustained performers, right? Some people need more help than others - but top producers usually only need to be held to general points of accountability.

My advice ... Back off!

If they have a sales drill that works, let them work it. Define your management style and processes in line with performance benchmarks and results.

For everyone else-Diversify your degree of 'hands-on' management in line with routine results and declare those milestones as the road to becoming a self-sustained professional.

Since meeting Norman in 1998 and having the luxury of working with him I have both flourished in my career and my personal life. Norman opened my eyes and made me aware of what was happening in my environment. He strengthened my leadership skills and boosted my confidence; as a result I have been promoted twice and recognized for executive training. Norman was able to quickly assess my business issue and using his many techniques would come up with the right solutions. As a result I was able to successfully rebuild two organizations focused on learning and development. Norman’s ability to quickly break down complex situations/issues and develop solutions is just amazing to me. I am grateful to have met and been coached by a highly skilled professional such as Norman. I continue to learn from him every time I converse with him. I do not believe I could have reached my potential today both personally and professionally without his guidance.

L. Ranieri,
Director Technical Operations

Executive Coaching & Consulting - Boston, MA

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