When we ask salespeople about how their manager can get the most out of them, we often hear something like, "I work best if they tell me what I need to accomplish, and then they give me the freedom to get it done. I don't like to be micromanaged!"
Simple, right? Not really! It's tough for a sales manager to walk that fine line between coaching and giving feedback (things most salespeople want), and hovering or micromanaging (things most salespeople hate).
So how can you be a great coach while also providing your people with the freedom they crave?
Set The Expectations: Goals, Guidelines, and Deadlines
As a sales manager, it’s important to set specific expectations for your team. Each member of your team should be clear on these things:
- Goals: Set the expectation upfront with defined goals.
- Guidelines: Provide clear guidelines they need to work within to reach these goals.
- Deadlines: Establish a specific deadline by which the goals should be completed.
Micromanagement is often the result of unclear goals and guidelines. If as a manager, you don’t define goals, guidelines, or deadlines for your team, they will struggle to meet your expectations. How can they deliver what you expect if they don't know what you expect?
Does “I need this by mid-next week,” mean Tuesday to you but Thursday to them? If so, you will find yourself asking them about it before they are done, and they may feel like you are looking over their shoulder or 'checking in on them."
Provide clear goals, guidelines, and deadlines and avoid any of those miscommunications.
Know Your Team's Talents
How each person you manage is uniquely "wired" will affect how they respond to your coaching. Some will enjoy your direction and involvement while others will feel uncomfortably micromanaged. Pay attention to the unique talents of each person to get a sense for what they need from you.
Those with strong discipline and organization tend to prefer, and in fact thrive, in an atmosphere where they are given clear expectations and instructions. Once they are given the clear assignment, they won't need further guidance – so give them space.
Those with a strong sense of responsibility and integrity will value the freedom you give them to complete their work assigned task as a result of trust. Supervision and micromanagement may send the message that you don't trust them which will demotivate them.
Knowing and understanding the talents of your team will help you to better manage to their strengths, leading them to growth and development in a way that complements their strengths rather than just pointing out their weaknesses or seeming, "micromanaging,"
With a sales team that is capable and trustworthy, you can allow them (and yourself) the freedom to work without excessive supervision when you set the expectations up front and manage to their talents and strengths.