One of the most consistent concerns I hear from CEO’s and sales managers is the stress associated with having to babysit their sales reps. They feel like they constantly have to hound the reps to turn in their paperwork, update their pipeline, enter their call notes, and the list goes on and on. If this sounds familiar then maybe you need to examine if it is something you are doing to cause this behavior.
One of the primary reasons that business leaders and sales managers fall into the trap of being the babysitter is typically because they really want their salespeople to like them. We call it a Need for Approval Weakness. It means that we need our people to like us more than we need to get them to perform at their highest level.
Maybe you can’t see yourself in this description. But just maybe you have let someone on your team slide on their administrative obligations because it was easier than having the conversation. Maybe you justify it because they are producing at an okay level and you are sympathetic to the fact that they are really busy. Maybe you say to yourself that you will ask them next time but it isn’t that big of a deal this week.
You are undermining your own authority when you avoid difficult conversations. You may not think it is because you have a high need for approval, but it is a very common affliction. Honestly, I get it. You don’t want the conflict. You’ve got other things to deal with.
If you find yourself frustrated with the stress associated with babysitting, then start fresh:
- Tell them that what has been happening is undermining the process and to help them be the most effective they can be there are going to be some new expectations.
- Establish those expectations (report completion, self-generated leads, call numbers, etc.)
- Set consequences of not living up to expectations (leads withheld, expense checks withheld until compliance, etc.)
- Remove your emotions and enforce the consequences.
It sounds easier then it will be, but if you put thought into the expectations (those required activities that are necessary) and thought into the consequences, then follow the plan. Once you enforce consistently for a time period, your babysitting will end, your life will be better and you will enjoy leading your sales team more.