Editor's Note: This blog has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness on July 6, 2020. Photo by Hattie Kingsley Photography.
In a previous blog, I went in depth on the topic of what makes some managers more effective than others. The reason we're able to confidently state our findings is because we have the ability to measure the effectiveness managers have on their team members and team performance through The Coaching Effect Survey.
Data that measures employee effectiveness is by no means new, especially in sales, where many companies track most every selling activity imaginable through tools such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems. However, consider the following exchange and think if it applies to your company.
A while back, we had a conversation with a VP of sales who had a litany of frontline sales managers reporting to him. Not everyone on his teams was achieving their sales goals, and he was searching for answers. When we asked what data they regularly reviewed, he shared all the metrics they track, showing virtually every minute of how a salesperson spent their day.
They measured the number of sales calls made, where they traveled, customers or prospects called, ratio of deals closed, and so on. They had an endless stream of data on what their salespeople did. But when asked what his managers were doing to drive growth, he said,
“Guys, I understand why you are asking and want you to know I’ve been working with most of my managers for more than ten years, so I trust them all. They are not only work colleagues; they are good friends. But having said that, I have no idea where they were last week, let alone last month. Plus, I have no idea if they are doing the activities or behaving in a way that drives the most growth because I have no idea what those things are. I guess I’ve just always hoped my managers were doing the right things.”
The attitude in this frustrating exchange is unfortunately commonplace in every work environment we’ve researched. For the heads of organizations to know nothing about the activities, behaviors, and overall effectiveness of the role that has the greatest impact on team performance, the manager, is ludicrous. Common sense dictates that nobody comes to work with a goal of failing, but the manager’s role is arguably the most precarious regarding longevity.
Understanding What Makes Managers Effective
We see firsthand how companies are quick to release managers, and a revolving door is set in motion, especially in sales departments. A big reason for this chaotic turnover is that nobody helps them understand how to be effective, nor is anyone measuring their performance inputs or outcomes. Time and again, we speak with senior executives who have no idea how their managers are spending their days or even how they should be spending them. Even managers themselves question if they’re focused on the activities that produce the best team results.
To sustain growth, maximize the performance of your business and teams, attract the best talent, and ensure that your organization remains relevant in today’s and especially tomorrow’s workplace, resources must be committed to the continual development and quantification of managerial effectiveness. The goal of this commitment, and hopefully an outcome of reading The Coaching Effect, is to get managers to behave and drive results in a way that resembles a high-growth coach as opposed to a performance-limiting manager.
Manager vs. Coach: What's the Difference?
You’ve probably noticed by now that we prefer the word "coach" to "manager". That’s for a very specific reason: the term "manager" is an archaic term describing a role that, by definition, limits growth and performance.
I speak more on this topic in this blog, but in short, a "manager" oversees managing tasks and managing people to accomplish those tasks. They promote processes and order, but those are not the elements that lead to growth. On the other hand, a "coach" develops and inspires people to do their best work. Coaches obtain more discretionary effort than managers, which is why the best coaches elevate their team’s performance.
For many people, the word "coach" triggers association with athletic teams, for which the job description is simple: to win. Indeed, the role of coaching in athletics encompasses the same key elements as effectively leading a business team. The coach must manage processes and outputs, develop relationships, lead and inspire, strategize, recruit, and certainly create discomfort for their team to achieve maximum performance.
In addition to "coach" being more robust than previous descriptors of the manager, the title and role of a coach more clearly defines what is required in business to consistently grow. Even if we know that the word "coach" and related coaching activities better describe what it takes to lead a high-growth team, there is still a significant lack of understanding of what a coach needs to do in a business environment to be successful.
Manager Effectiveness Research & Metrics
In our research with sales departments, we see that approximately 80 percent of existing coaches, even those who’ve had coaching training, are not executing the necessary coaching activities with the right frequency or quality that will lead a team to perform at the highest levels.
We also see that 30 percent of the coaches in a sales department are either providing no discretionary effort or unknowingly preventing salespeople from selling more. Said another way, sales departments are paying, on average, 30 percent of their coaches to inhibit sales.
When we set out on our journey to understand and quantify how coaches influence growth and overall performance, our vision was to discern the activities, behaviors, and tools the best coaches use. We deliberately began our work in sales departments for several reasons, one being the background of those on the EcSell team. Another reason was that sales departments traditionally do a better job tracking performance data. Having such black-and-white numbers (every business tracks sales) made it easier for us to correlate coaching activities and behaviors to results.
The more we learned about how coaches affect sales results and as we shared these findings with CEOs, presidents, and other executives throughout the world, they would in turn share their belief that effective coaching in the sales world should apply to every department. While we always believed this as well, their response motivated us to expand our work to almost every type of leader and team in an organization.
Manager Effectiveness Survey
As I mentioned in the beginning of this blog, The Coaching Effect Survey is the only tool that will measure your managers' coaching consistency and effectiveness because simply put, better coaching leads to better results. Learn more about the survey by clicking the information below: