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Getting Things Done Though Our People

by David Brock on August 23rd, 2015

Perhaps the most difficult thing to recognize in moving from an individual contributor role into a management role is that made you great as a sales person will be your biggest barrier to being an effective manager and leader.

As an individual contributor, what probably made you a high performer was your ability to get things done–in the company, with your customers.  These included prospecting and finding new deals, making sure they were the right deals, developing and executing strategies to win, overcoming competition, other alternatives.

In virtually every case, what separated you from everyone else was the ability to get things done and produce results in your territory.

As a manager, it’s just that ability, which too often is the biggest barrier to our success in leading our people, maximizing their performance and individual contributions.

Moving into management requires we shift our perspective.  Our performance is no longer based on our abilities to get things done personally, but getting things done through our people.

We no longer have the direct responsibility for finding customers/opportunities.  We no longer have the responsibility for developing and executing winning sales strategies.  We no longer have the responsibility of working directly with the customer, moving the deal through their buying process.

Those are the things our people are accountable for.  Those are their responsibility.  The moment we start taking that away, taking the accountability and responsibility, we fail.  We not only fail in our responsibility to our people but we will fail in our jobs.

The most simplistic evidence of this is running some simple math.

As individual contributors, it took our full time to achieve our goals.  Now as a manager, let’s suppose we have 10 people reporting to us.  Let’s also say, our people do 75% of the work, but we come in batting clean-up to do the final 25% for each of them.  The result is impossible!  We simply don’t have the time to do even 25% for them.  Add to that, the things that are strictly our responsibility as managers.

If we don’t transition to getting things done through our people, we become the bottleneck in organizational effectiveness.  We do much of the work we hold our people accountable for, and we don’t have the time to do our own jobs.

Layer on top of this, the devastating impact this has on your team.  They see major parts of their jobs taken away from them.  Rather than being coached to improve, they get no coaching, but stand at the sidelines as the manager does what they had hoped to do for themselves.

Our job as managers is different than our jobs as individual contributors.  If we don’t choose to do our jobs, then we are cheating our people and the organization.  If, in moving from the individual contributor role to the managerial role you can’t move from getting things done yourself to getting things done through your people, then don’t make the change.  Turn down the managerial job and do what you do best.

Afterward:  Take the “ability to get things done” with a few grains of salt.  There are many things, as manager, that you are accountable for and you have to be very effective in getting things done.  I’m just referring to those things you got done as a sales person and the differences in management.


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