I naively figured they would have the same interests as me. My children would want to stay active with athletic activities year around. Football, basketball, baseball during the appropriate seasons for my son; if I had a girl (I ended up with two) she would want to dance and if sports minded, basketball, softball and volleyball would get the call.
Retrospectively, with all three I ended up with talents that were more attractive than my limited mind could comprehend. Our oldest son and daughter opened my eyes to music, cheerleading and the creative arts. I now appreciate those talents and gifts as much, or more so than any athletic endeavor. Now the youngest is all we have left at home and the only of our three that is involved in competitive sports. She provides us the opportunity to be helicopter parents to someone who loves… tennis?
I should have requested my kids take it easy on the old man and have passions with which I was already intimately familiar. However, if they had only pursued something along the lines of my historical pleasures I would not be as enriched today. My world would be smaller and infinitely more limited. Am I better off having immersed myself (I did work at educating myself in order to intellectually understand each of their passions) to have a deeper understanding of music, cheer, and now tennis? Absolutely, unequivocally “yes”!
As a sales leader do you have an intimate understanding of what moves and motivates those on your team? Do you know their passions both within and outside of work? Do you actively help them develop their talents and skills? Or, do you view their world through your own historical, perhaps myopic and antiquated view?
I frequently hear “when I was a rep I was thrown into the field and told to close some business…” So, therefore, the way you treat your reps is a reflection of how you were treated? What motivated you is the same that should motive those on your team, right? Absolutely, unequivocally “wrong”!
If this is how you are coaching, you are likely missing the gold that exists within your team (a key way to understand coaching effectiveness is to survey those on your team and ask them for their thoughts. Take a look at our Through the Eyes of the Rep survey to find out how you can be more effective). Research also shows you most likely have higher turnover, lower productivity/rep—overall a minimized team performance than your colleagues who don’t just “manage” through a historical lens. EcSELL’s on-going research offers us a few insights. First, sales reps don’t want more of your time, they want more quality time with their manager. They want you to care about them as a person, not just as a producer. They want you to help them improve their skills that lead to higher performance, but more that 50% of sales managers are not effective at developing those on their teams.
As a parent you wouldn’t take the approach, “my kids need to do it this way because that’s the way I did it…” Sales leaders need to have a healthier, open minded approach in order to maximize the performance of each individual on their team. Just like the uniquenesses in your children, so are the uniquenesses of those on your team. Here is a simple way to start—have them document their passions, their desires, their goals. Below is a link to a document that can help you as a “coach” understand each individual on your team.
Use this document (or something similar) every year, with everyone on your team, as a reminder to help each player achieve their goals, not your goals for them.