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Do You Trust Yourself And Your People Enough To Let Go?

by David Brock on January 18th, 2011

I hear from sales people all over, “My manager won’t let go!”  “She’s micro managing me!”  As I listened to these complaints, as I started to watch and see this happening, I begin to wonder, as managers do we trust our people enough to let them be successful?

Too often, I see well intended managers constantly riding their people.  Checking in with them before and after each sales call, “What’s your plan?”  “How did it go, what are the next steps?”  Or in reviewing deals, they go on autopilot, “Here’s what you need to do next……” 

When I try to point out this behavior, I usually get responses, “You don’t understand, we have to get these deals to make our numbers.”  “I’m really experienced, I know how to get deals done.  I just need them to do it my way, then I know we’ll make our numbers.”

Ultimately,this approach to management is doomed to fail.  Our job as leaders is to get things done through our people.  We are most effective developing them, getting them to achieve higher levels of performance.  If we tell them what they should be doing, if we dictate, if we are constantly checking everything, the whole system breaks down.  Micromanaging shifts the accountability from the sales person to the manager.  All of a sudden, it is the manager that’s responsible for identifying the next steps, managing the deal, even managing calls.  Even if that was the right thing to do, the sheer numbers are impossible to manage–no manager simply has enough time to be calling the shots on everything–the manager starts to become the bottleneck, things slow down as sales people wait for direction, productivity plummets, sales plummet—the manager and the organization fail.

Think of the organizational impact.  We’ve all worked for micro managers before–it’s terrible!  We are demotivated, we are uninspired, we go through the motions.  If, as managers, we have done the right job of hiring, hopefully we’ve built a team of independent thinkers, aggressive sales people who want to close business.  Then we take all that away by micromanaging.  The best people will leave–then all you are left with are poor performers.

Our jobs as managers is to magnify our impact.  We do this by passing our experience on to our people through coaching, training, and development.  We help them grow to perform at higher levels.

If we’ve done our job as managers, we’ve hired great people.  These great people have different, perhaps better ways of doing things.  As managers, we understand what they are doing, assess whether it produces the desired results, coach them in how to improve.  If we’re great, we let them teach us, learning from what they do, incorporating their approaches into our best practices, coaching others in how to improve even further.

If we are great managers, we give our people the same opportunities we had in developing—including the opportunity to make mistakes.  Each of us learns through our mistakes.  Too often, I see managers trying to keep their people from making mistakes.  People are going to make mistakes, our job is to help our people learn from them, to recover, and to move forward.  We can’t let mistake avoidance overwhelm both us and them.  We have to encourage thoughtful risk.

Being a great manager is ultimately about trust–both in yourself and what you’ve done to coach and develop your people and in them!  Do you trust your people enough to let go?

Reminder:  Don’t forget to visit Future Selling Institute.  We’re having conversations about these and all other sales leadership topics there, join the discussion!

  1. I’ve always maintained, as you describe above, that trust and accountability must go hand in hand. Managers who trust their team to do the job will often times achieve results that exceed their expectations as long as they also hold that same team accountable. Then, of course, we must also discuss things like culture, motivation and compensation as they often drive behavior as well.


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