Sales Coaching Blog

The Best Managers Are Annoying

Posted by Sarah Wirth

February 17, 2017

6611ef95-bd06-441b-900f-1abf873ecfde.pngSometimes my boss really annoys me.

Don’t worry about him reading this – we have a really great relationship, so I’ve said this to his face a few times. Specifically, he annoys me when I’m working on a new project and I think I’ve come up with the right idea, only to have him ask me a bunch of questions that poke holes in my thinking. Just when I think I’ve arrived at a conclusion, his challenging questions put me back at square one – that’s annoying!

But here’s the rub – my boss and his questions only annoy me when he brings up good points about the weaknesses in my idea, which means I wasn’t really on the right track. And ultimately, his questions help me think through the issue more fully and arrive at a better conclusion.

Over time, I’ve learned to recognize my feelings of annoyance for what they really are – me being in a state of discomfort because I don’t have the right answer.

"Why Comfort Will Ruin Your Life" by EcSell President, Bill Eckstrom

Many leaders shy away from putting their team into a state of discomfort. Perhaps they want to avoid an argument or confrontation. Maybe they don’t have the time it takes to challenge their employees’ thinking.

Possibly they don’t even see that they could be doing something to help their team perform better. And understandably they may feel bad causing their team consternation. Whatever the reason, not enough leaders are comfortable with making their team uncomfortable. (Click to Tweet)

This is unfortunate, as people can only grow in discomfort. Think about the times in your career when you grew the most. If you are like most people, your period of greatest professional growth occurred in response to a challenging time, such as a new job, new promotion, a tough project or even a difficult event.

We grow from discomfort because the discomfort is necessary to force us to get out of our habits and routine. (Click to Tweet)

At EcSell Institute, we study what managers can do to create this discomfort intentionally or put them into, as we call it, a state of complexity. Complexity is simply a state in which you don’t know what’s going to happen.

When I was trying to figure out the right way forward in my new project, I was in a state of complexity, since I’d never tackled that project before. I knew what we were hoping to accomplish. I knew where we were currently. But I didn’t know the right path to get there. I was in a state of complexity.

Managers who are effective at putting their teams into a state of complexity possess a catalytic factor (or “C-Factor”) that helps their team grow. To assess a manager’s C-Factor, we asked their sales reps whether they agreed with the following two statements:

  • Your manager purposely asks you to do things that stretch your abilities
  • Even if it is sometimes uncomfortable, your manager pushes you to be a better sales rep

If reps responded in the affirmative to these two statements about their manager, we labeled their manager as a High C-Factor manager. After we divided the managers into two groups – High C-Factor managers and all other managers – we sought to understand the reps’ overall impressions of these managers. 

Using the question “Rate your manager’s overall skills as a sales manager,” we looked at the different ratings for the two groups on the scale of 1-to-10. What we found was that High C-Factor managers were rated higher than all others (see graph below).

4c0ad821-58cd-40a3-9c11-a8c67adf9112 (2).png
 VIEW LARGER

What these higher overall ratings for High C-Factor managers tell us is that reps actually view their manager more positively when they feel that manager is pushing and challenging them to perform at a high level.

Moreover, even if reps may not always like to be challenged outside their comfort zone in the moment, they ultimately recognize this is a good thing.

So next time you worry that you are making your team uncomfortable, remember that their discomfort is not only a good thing, but it is absolutely essential to their growth. (Click to Tweet

While they may be annoyed by the way you challenge and question them, ultimately, they will perform better as a result. And ultimately, a rep recognizes and appreciates a manager that helps them grow and achieve.


Like this topic? Then you might also enjoy this whitepaper about what the best managers do differently to enhance performance and drive sales.

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Topics: Catalytic Factor, sales manager performance, Catalytic Coaching

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