Some managers reading this title will be thinking, “Dave, you’ve got this backwards, they’re our people, our employees, they work for us. They need to be creating value for us. That’s what we hire them for, to bring in orders!”
It’s this very attitude that creates the challenges we have within too many of our organizations today.
Our jobs as leaders is to maximize the performance of each person on our teams. It’s about enabling them and empowering them to do the jobs we hired them for and to produce the results expected. And it’s getting out of their way to let them do those jobs.
The funny thing about this, is if we do this, they produce the orders we need and expect!
To often, our points of view about the manager-employee/subordinate relationship is terribly backwards.
They work for us, they do what we tell them to do, they are expected to produce the results (sales/orders), if they don’t, then we will find someone who will.
Instead, our role is to maximize the performance of each person on our team. Sorry to be repetitive, but this is the critical idea we have to have as leaders. But what’s this mean?
- First, we have to have the right people. We have to have the people with the behaviors, attitudes, values, skills, competencies, and experiences to do the jobs we hire them for. It’s our jobs as managers and leaders to make sure we have the right people on our teams.
- We have to make sure they understand the expectations we have of them in the role. This is more than, “Here’s your quota and territory assignment, I need a forecast by tomorrow morning.” It’s helping them understand who we are, what we intend to stand for with our customers. It’s giving them a clear vision about the strategies, priorities, and the value we create for customers. It’s making sure they understand expected behaviors within the organization, how we work as a team, what are conditions of employment (read Sales Manager Survival Guide to understand this concept). And yes, they have to know their quotas, what levels of pipelines or other activity metrics they need to achieve—but those are just things to help them monitor how they are doing in the job.
- We have to onboard them, teaching, demonstrating, coaching them in the things that drive the highest levels of performance in the role they’ve been hired to perform. It’s helping them understand what works, what doesn’t, what they need to do to succeed.
- We have to coach them on an ongoing basis, helping them understand what they are doing well and how to do them better. Helping them understand where they can improve and helping them do this. Helping them explore new things, to think and figure things our for themselves.
- We have to provide them the systems, tools, processes, programs, and training so they can perform at their maximum.
- We have to remove barriers that stand in the way of their doing their jobs and performing at the levels we expect. Part of this involves fighting for them and getting things done for them within our organizations, so they can focus on doing their jobs with customers.
- We have to create an environment of constant learning, improvement, and innovation. The world isn’t standing still, so if everyone in the organization isn’t constantly learning and improving, you fall behind and fail.
- We have to address performance issues–not ignore them or let them linger. For those that aren’t or can’t perform as expected, we have to work with them to figure out what’s wrong, to figure out how the situation can be corrected. If it can’t be, we have to move them to where they can succeed–elsewhere in the organization or out of the company. Anything less is failing them, their teammates, the organization, and yourselves.
- We have to constantly model what performance excellence is about in our own behaviors and the personal example we set. “Do as I do,” is far more impactful than “Do as I say.”
- We have to get our hands dirty, working with our people, helping them with tough situations, understanding what they face, so we can figure out how to help them improve.
- We have to celebrate their successes, individually and as a team.
Leadership is nothing more than creating value for each individual and for the team. If we do this, they, in turn, create the value for which we hired them.
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