It seems to be a fact of current business life, all of us are time poor. We have more on our plates than we have time available to do them. We are distracted by the urgent, often at the expense of the important.
For many managers, the coaching falls into that category. Many recognize that coaching is something they should be doing, but day to day fire-fighting and crisis management seem to conspire to rob managers of the time to coach. (Those that don’t recognize the importance of coaching, are a completely different case–one wonders if they should even be managers.)
What too many managers fail to realize is the tremendous multiplier impact of effective coaching.
As managers, part of our job is business management. Making sure our people are doing the things necessary to achieve their goals. Are they doing the right prospecting, are they chasing the right deals, are they moving them through the pipeline, what are they accomplishing their calls and meetings, when do they expect to close, what is the probability of winning, how are they managing their territories/accounts?
The list of things we have to monitor and assess seems endless. The press of time, seems to keep us from coaching, even if we want to.
Let’s look at a very simple example. Let’s imagine you have 10 people and each have 10 very active deals they are working. To monitor the status, you have weekly updates on the progress of those deals, let’s imagine these updates take 10 minutes each. Perhaps some give and take, perhaps providing a piece of advice, “Why don’t you try this?” or possibly telling, “Go do that.”
Just doing these 100 updates takes 1000 minutes a week, or about 17 hours. But then there are all the other things, pipeline reviews, call reviews, talking about their prospecting, the periodic territory/account reviews. Then there are all the internal meetings, updates to your management and so on.
We find we don’t have enough time to do all of this. So we start taking shortcuts–just to try to manage everything that’s going on. We don’t get updates on everything, just the crucial things, we still don’t have time to coach, we just have to cross our fingers and hope our sales people are doing what they say they are doing and what they should be doing.
Since we can’t possibly monitor everything that’s going on, since we don’t know that our people are being as effective as possible, our confidence in the business results is at risk. We are increasingly stressed, perhaps we go into review overload, perhaps we start getting into heavy tell mode, directing our people to do more, starting to micromanage their activities at a distance, all with the hope of adding more manageability to the business.
You can see how this plays out. We just don’t have the time to keep things under control, let alone find the time to coach.
What if we could have greater confidence in what’s happening with our people and everything they are doing? What if we knew they are developing and executing winning deal strategies? What if we knew they are being highly effective in their prospecting and sales calls–moving things forward as rapidly as possible? What if we had great confidence in the quality of their pipelines and know they are focusing on the right deals and keeping them moving through the pipeline.
Ironically, it’s consistent coaching that enables us to have a huge multiplier effect on the performance of our people.
Here’s how that plays out.
When we don’t coach, for us to feel certain about what our people are doing, we have to look at everything. We have to understand what they are doing in each situation to gain confidence in the outcomes.
When we start instructing and telling them what to do, we are focused only on that specific situation.
Coaching is different, it enables us to to help our sales people with a specific situation, but also build their capabilities in addressing other similar situations.
For example, as we coach a deal, we help our sales people think about what they are doing, what they can do more effectively. We help them develop their capabilities not only to win the specific deal, but to leverage those same capabilities in every deal they are working on.
As we coach them on other deals, we are simultaneously helping them think about that deal differently, but also look at each of their deals differently, applying the same lessons to everything they do.
In those reviews and coaching sessions for a deal, we can gain confidence that if our people are developing and executing winning deal strategies, for those we review, they are doing the same things in all their other deals.
With this confidence, instead of having to inspect each deal, by selectively looking at deals and continuing to coach our people, we know our people are doing the same things as they develop and execute their deal strategies with all of their other deals.
Going back to our original example, getting updates on the 100 deals our people are working on, spending 17 hours just on those updates. What if, instead, we coached each of our people on 2 deals a week, spending 30 minutes on each deal (rather than the 10 minutes in status updates). Across our 10 people, it’s a total of 10 hours–a savings of at least 7 hours a week.
More importantly, over time, we are building the capabilities of our people to develop and execute winning deal strategies. We have greater confidence in what they are doing, improving our confidence in managing the business.
As we start coaching their prospecting, sales calls, account/territory management, pipelines, time management, we get huge leverage in each area. We are not only improving the capabilities of our people to perform, but we are gaining huge leverage in how we invest our own time, as well as our confidence in achieving the business goals.
Coaching has huge multiplier effects. We enable our people to perform at higher levels. We gain control over our own agendas–instead of having to have updates on everything, we can inspect/coach small numbers of activities, knowing that coaching will help in both the specific situation, but also your people will be applying them in other situations.
Once we recognize the huge leverage produced by coaching, it would be insanity not to do so.