The Coaching Effect Blog

Sales Management Lesson from Google

Posted by Bill Eckstrom

March 16, 2011

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So simple Google didn’t even get it?

Understanding the human relations component of the employee performance equation is easy to verbally acknowledge, but challenging to fully grasp and for most, even more challenging to affect.  Most organizations talk “change” only in the context of the need to be nimble and adaptive to dynamic market forces driven by technology, but few have responded to change driven by the needs of today’s white collar labor market.  Why is it companies like Google can see the next wave of technology, the next subtle tweak in consumer behavior, but need to get hit over the head with the impact of the manager’s role in team performance?  

My first reaction was, that’s it?” says Laszlo Bock, Google’s vice president for “people operations,”

I don’t know enough about Google to make additional comments or recommendations, but this article continues to highlight the chasm that exists in the understanding of what employees need to move the needle versus how companies are aligned to provide those needs.

THIS CHASM SHOULD NOT BE SO WIDE, for employees have made it infinitely clear what they want and need to perform at high levels.  Organizations like Talent Plus, Gallup, Kenexa and our own EcSELL Institute continue to prove the “manager” has the most significant impact on team performance.  Yet most organizations, including Google, primarily recognize technical skill and intellectual capital as performance and reward those who possess them with advancements in or to management roles. 


In a sales department do you do the same?  Do you reward performance with a move to sales management (I should mention I am a proponent of taking someone from the sales team and moving them into management)?  But, is advancement contingent only upon one’s ability to sell?  At EcSELL we know our members recognize this departmental faux pas, but how is it overcome?

  1. Acknowledge and reward the Manager who can do more than manage tools and processes.  Make the Manager role one of a “Sales Coach” whose responsibility reaches beyond management.  Look for someone who is able to obtain discretionary effort from their team.
  2. Scientifically assess the strengths  of everyone on your sales teams so you have an understanding of who has sales coaching traits (not just management) and exhibits leadership behaviors
  3. Understand the career path goals of all your direct reports and draw a clear line of site between where they are today and where they wish to be in the future.  In other words, is it clear to those on your team how they can advance?
  4. Have candid conversations about how your associates can best use and build upon their strengths for career advancement or role improvement
  5. Provide a continuous improvement program for coaching and management development.

There is much more that could be written, but this is a blog and not a piece for HBR.  I welcome any and all comments.


Topics: Sales manager training, Engagement, sales leadership, sales coaching, professional development for sales management, Leadership & Management, EcSELL Institute, Sales Management, sales management skills, coaching, professional development, assessment tools, sales performance, sales leadership best practices, ideas for sales leaders

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