If you’re a sales manager, it’s time for a quick self-evaluation to see if you may be a micromanager. Micromanagers tend to check in with sales reps constantly and they are swamped in minutiae. They often scrutinize and criticize the small details of an employee’s work. Learn how to be a sales coach, not a micromanager and watch your sales reps’ attitude and work output improve drastically.
It’s probably not surprising that these traits aren’t very effective leadership strategies. It may be more surprising to realize that you’re guilty of some or all of them.
What does a micromanager look like from an employee’s perspective? Imagine a coach running onto a football field in the middle of a play and instructing a receiver where to go. That’s micromanaging. It’s an extreme example, but it’s also instructive.
This coach is stepping outside the norms of the game. During the normal course of a game, there’s limited communication between a coach and the team. A basketball coach can shout at players during a game, and the players might hear them, but it’s not possible for the coach to diagram plays when they are already set in motion.
Similarly, when an employee is on a sales call, it would be inappropriate for the boss to barge in on the conversation. This would be disruptive to the sales effort and ineffective to the end goal of closing the sale or moving to the next step. It’s worth mentioning that it is also incredibly rude to the salesperson and may cause them to feel undervalued.
Again, this is an extreme example, but it’s instructive. The interesting questions come not in such obvious black and white cases but in the gray cases. When is it appropriate or not for a boss to intervene? Unfortunately, that depends on the specific area of business, but there is a question you can ask yourself as a good rule of thumb. This question requires a different answer for each and every specific case. Spending the time to answer this question for each specific case will build your sales coaching skills and ensure you are not micromanaging your employee’s. This in itself can improve the confidence of your sales reps and improve your bottom line.
Continuing with the example of the coach, consider a distinction between game time and time out. Game time is when the employees are doing something, they’re most capable of doing by themselves. Time out is when the manager steps in and gives direction, advice, or feedback.
To decide whether a given sales activity belongs in game time or in time out, ask: “can my employee do this by themselves?” If the answer is always “no,” that’s a serious issue, and this must be addressed at the proper time (most likely during employee weekly, monthly, or quarterly reviews). If the answer is “yes,” then you, the sales manager and sales coach, should not be interacting or micromanaging your sales rep.
Of course, the more likely answer is “sometimes.” It comes down to a judgment call. Can the employee do this effectively alone? Or would it be more effective for you to step in? Ultimately that decision is up to you, but remember that you have a choice and the best thing is to address the issue at a different time or to entirely leave the issue alone. Address the issue when you notice it impacting the results and performance metrics of your sales rep.
Of course, that’s not to say you give up all involvement. You’re still the leader, you’re still in charge, and you’re still ultimately responsible for driving new business and growing your organization. But you must learn to be strategic about when to give input.
Take advantage of your daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly meetings with your sales reps to say everything that you need to say. Also, use this opportunity to establish when would be the most appropriate time for you to check in and offer feedback. Your sales reps won’t feel like they’re constantly being watched if you establish boundaries around when you check in and stick to those boundaries.
If you’re a micromanager, you’re probably doing it for the right reasons, but it’s time to stop. Your employees will appreciate it and respond by improving their performance. It’s time to think like a sales coach and lead your sales team to their next win.