Have you seen the Gallop survey results? US employees are only 30% engaged. It turns out this low-level engagement has a lot to do with bad bosses. In a Forbes blog posted by Jack Altman, “Don’t Be Surprised When Your Employees Quit”, he suggests bad bosses are financially detrimental to the company. I agree. Good managers set clear goals, empower their teams, know their employees, are reliable and considerate. Bad bosses are…well…bad. That was the conclusion Uber’s board reached and finally removed their CEO/founder Jack Kalanick. Gone. Moreover, now we hear, Binary Capital’s co-founder knew Justin Caldbeck had leadership issues. What’s going on here?

After some research, I found several medium and large sized companies had no formalized sales leadership training. Zippo. The smaller the company, the more likely no formalized program exists. Without skills training, a boss manages the same way as her predecessor; to “do things the way they have always done them.” If she continues using the methods and behaviors of her predecessor the company may be in trouble.

However, it does not have to be. When I started my sales consultancy several years ago, I asked company’s CEOs and VP if they ever considered a management training programs? The response was YES but making the investment stalled. Where does one go to learn how to be a better boss?

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” -Dwight Eisenhower.

There are several good programs available. Let’s look at three components I use as part of my management development program:

Leadership Roles (Training, Mentoring, Coaching, and Supervising): leadership is people management. Applying all four of the above functions is key to leading an active, engaging and successful team. I have met some outstanding supervising managers who, unfortunately, fail in all of the other skill sets. A few mid-sized businesses believe in the “player-coach” model for their sales manager. I do not recommend this approach. A sales manager with a dual responsibility must make a choice between selling to earn a commission or training, leading and coaching. A sales manager’s only role is to improve the performance of the sales team; not sell.

The more enlightened companies have continuous training programs available for all employees. The above four roles are taught to all managers.  Strong relational bonds are formed by working with new hires in a mentoring and sales coaching capacity. These relationships enhance the team’s overall performance. Moreover, by celebrating stellar performance stimulates team productivity and growth.

The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you’ve made a hiring mistake. The best people don’t need to be managed. Guided, taught, led-yes. But not tightly managed.” -Jim Collins

On Recruiting, Interviewing and Hiring: do you have the right team? Do you have the most capable person in every sales position? If no, time to re-visit capabilities and performance. For every ten sales individuals on a team, there are, on average, three superstars, four average performers and three on the bottom of the performance scale. Typically, to improve team effectiveness, the manager (owner or CEO) decides to spend more time with the bottom performers. By working with and coaching the middle four will improve your team’s performance far faster than working with anyone else on the team.

Being a better sales manager, means constantly reviewing all the individual members and their contribution to the team. The uncomfortable fact may be that one or two of the bottom performers must go. Terminating anyone is tough. However, by allowing them to remain will negatively affect the team and the company. I know what you are thinking, “What assurances do I have any of the new hires will be any better than the current poor performers? Maybe they will be worse?”  As a manager, you need a hiring process to objectively screen for the best applicants in the field?  These programs assess competency, tendencies and best fit and allow you to be reasonably sure the new candidate will perform successfully in the role. If you want to learn more about assessments, check out my blog, called Bad Hires and Recruiting Challenges.

Indecision on a replacement, delaying new hires or not using assessment tools will cost the company money. Alot! The manager needs the right tools to make an informed, objective decision.

Staging Effective Sales Meetings:  this may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many sales managers run horrible sales meetings. Sometimes it is just disorganized. Sometimes it is just about the numbers. Other times, bad bosses use it as a “butt kicking” exercise every Friday, late afternoon. Just because your predecessor did it their way does not mean you must follow the same outdated and ineffective program. Consider some of these the next time you schedule a sales meeting.

  • What is the reason for having this meeting: educational, informational or is it a time-waster?
  • Start and end on time, no more than 30 minutes
  • Plan the meeting and have a set (practical) agenda
  • Make sure action items are assigned to individuals with completion dates
  • Promote interaction and buy-in among meeting attendees; who needs what help?
  • Keep a focus on intended outcomes

I once attended a C-suite meeting with the President and several Vice Presidents for about an hour. The collective hourly cost of all of us sitting in the room exceeded $5000. There was no set agenda. For the first 15 minutes, we discussed what should be on the agenda. No two attendees agreed. People began to break off to have private conversations. For the next half hour, the discussion turned to another meeting scheduled to take place later in the week. Then the phone rang; it was the President’s wife who had to speak with him in private. Meeting adjourned! No direction, no agenda, no outcome….no kidding!

To all the owners and CEOs out there…there is a better way to no bad bosses. Help your managers by investing in their development. Invest in a credible management training program so managers (and yourself) can apply concepts, processes to improve upon your sales team’s performance. You will be giving the gift of opportunity to all who participate.

If you liked this blog, please share on social media. If you are a struggling business owner, sales manager or a sales professional who wants to do better, let’s talk. I am Will Harley, with Harley-Consulting, a growth services company. With over 20 years of business leadership experience, I leverage my experience to help others achieve their goals. Sign up just to talk. Leave a comment; I promise to reply immediately.