The Coaching Effect Blog

Management Activities ≠ Results

Posted by Phyllis Trower

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July 26, 2016

A Gallup poll of more than 1 million employed U.S. workers concluded that the No. 1 reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor.

“The majority of today’s front-line managers were promoted as a result of high performance in pre-management roles, regardless of what those roles might have been. Thus, many promotions into front-line management positions result in ‘accidental’ managers who are ill- equipped to perform successfully in their new role.”  - BearingPoint Institute

“…nearly 60% of front-line managers underperform during their first two years in the seat, driving performance gaps and employee turnover across the entire frontline.” Given the importance of the front-line role, this shortfall matters. - BusinessWire

“Shifting an effective manager to an effective people manager can improve employee performance by 25%, employee engagement by 52%, and employee retention by 40%.” - Leadership Roundtable of the Conference Executive Board

The research points to one very clear and concise fact: Front-line managers are the single-most influential factor in driving employee motivation and performance.

In our world today, we are rewarded and reveled for doing a lot of activity. It is somewhat of a “badge of honor” to be the first in the office and the last to leave, to be so busy we can’t breathe, to be in & on every aspect of social media, to be available 24/7 and so on. You get the picture.

Here’s a different lens to that picture.  Definitions according to Miriam-Webster are:

  1. Activity: the state of being active : behavior or actions of a particular kind (b): something that is done as work or for a particular purpose
  2. Performance: the execution of an action (b): something accomplished
  3. Result: to happen because of something else that happened or was done before: to be caused by something else (b): to proceed or arise as a consequence, effect, or conclusion

Performance, therefore, is the outcome of activity. And results, good or bad, are the collective outcome of performance. So it holds true that . . .

Activity does NOT necessarily EQUAL the INTENDED results.


With this thinking, I turn my lens to sales management or leadership; whichever term you prefer. Which are the most meaningful activities that sales managers can employ to reach the intended results? 

Recently I read an article titled “Is Sales Coaching Dead?” and showed that of the 17 ranked sales management competencies, “running the business” skills such as managing the pipe and forecasting were identified as the biggest performance differentiators right now. Therefore, it was suggested that this is where companies should place their training investment dollars and time. While I agree that these are important skills and important activities, the reality is that most front-line managers today already spend the majority of their time and effort in these activities. More than likely, their level of experience is abundant given the likelihood they rose up “through the ranks.” Whole-heartedly, YES, they need to be skilled and effective in all of them. They are important.

However, I firmly believe that the collective skills that make up effective coaching is worthy of investment; investment of time, dollars, executive leader expectations and measured discipline. Here’s why.  

Coaching today is vaguely defined in terms of activities and skills. It is not measured. How can it be measured if it isn’t defined in a concrete way? On the surface, every person will agree that coaching is important. In fact, most data today points to it being identified as the #1 skill for front-line leaders.  However, in reality, it is the activity that merely “fills in the cracks” of a manager’s time, energy and effort.  

Yet, we have irrefutable evidence that a direct manager has the most influence on the performance and motivation of an employee. Is that influence the result of being able to manage the pipe and forecast effectively? No, it is the RESULT of the RELATIONSHIP between manager and employee.  A relationship cannot be created, nurtured and grown when it is only done to “fill in the cracks” of time…and when it is undefined and not measured.  

According to EcSell’s research, coaching as a process and equation is defined as:
Within this process are clearly defined activities, which are measured for quality and quantity allowing clear evidence, both leading and lagging, as to progress in reaching your intended results.

Invest in your leaders. Teach them the right activities, which when summed up create the intended performance. Accelerate adoption and effectiveness through measurement.

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About the contributing author:


Phyllis Trower
Performance Strategy & Design Expert/ 
Global Learning and Development Senior Leader

Phyllis has over 20 years of experience in the sales arena playing critical roles such as the Director of Performance Consulting, the Leader of Talent Operations and Analytics and the Leader of Global Sales Training and Development. Her ability to identify what is important to train and how to do if effectively brings positive change and successful outcomes in pursuit of achieving new performance heights within organizations.    

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Topics: Sales Coaching Effectiveness, sales rep motivation, Management Activities

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