Question of the Week: Humanizing Sales Management - Getting to Know Your Employees as People First

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Welcome to our “Question of the Week” series of blog posts where we will address some of the most common issues sales teams deal with on a daily basis. We welcome your questions and comments, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you have anything to add.

Employee engagement is a critical aspect of any company’s success. Your internal culture depends on it, and it starts from the top down.

For company culture to thrive, managers must lead by example, with a work ethic and approach that employees can look to for guidance as they execute their tasks.

According to a Gallup study on workplace culture, 70 percent of the variance between effective and ineffective cultures can be directly attributed to the talent and skills of those in leadership positions. Implementing the appropriate strategies at the right time and place will not only build confidence and help employees complete their tasks, but it will also provide opportunities for them to advance in their positions and grow as individuals.

Motivating your teams: how positive feedback helps

There are many ways to motivate your teams. Recognition for a job well-done and celebrating wins are important, but it’s just as much so to not leave anybody behind. Being mindful of personal feelings and anything that may impact an employee’s work performance—both on the job and outside of it—is critical, as it provides insight into general behavior and the ability to respond.

However, just because you are a leader, it isn’t your job to babysit or to fix an employee’s problems. Doing so will only encourage that behavior and will generally result in you having even more problems to solve. Instead, you should focus on inspiring and elevating your teams through positive feedback, which will encourage them to strive for something better.

Workplace matters: know what’s going on in and out of the office

A fundamental management responsibility is to ensure all operations are being carried out efficiently and according to schedule. To achieve this result, a highly competent manager will take into account what’s going on at work as well as what’s going on outside of work that might have an impact on work performance. Conversely, it’s just as critical to ensure that what’s going on at work isn’t affecting your employee’s personal lives.

Personal issues or troubles of any kind, whether they stem from something inside or outside of the office, can have a serious impact on business results. This is especially true when it pertains to sales productivity, as it is an activity that requires an empathetic connection with the prospect and a focused understanding of their needs.

The workplace itself can completely change how employees view their work. A vibrant workplace culture will keep activity buzzing throughout the day, which will lead to higher engagement throughout the team. A dull, boring workplace is less productive and won’t help you in the effort to retain top sales talent.

Hire the right people, see the best in them, help them succeed

Hiring the right employees for the job is often a struggle. Today’s job market is highly competitive, and companies who drag their feet on hiring tend to let talent slip through if they don’t act quickly.

However, with the right individual, it is possible to shape new employees in the image you most desire. With this approach, you can build your dream team and strengthen your culture in the process.

A good cultural fit is just as important as having the right skills. If your new employee fits well with the rest of your team on a personal level, if they reflect the passion and work ethic you want to nurture, the skills can be taught.

Taking a balanced approach

In a way, managing people can be compared to a parent-child relationship. The parent is the voice of reason and rationality. In this role, they evaluate, give approval or disapproval, and nurture the individual, but they can’t lean too much on one side than the other. A balance needs to be struck as, for instance, if there is too much help and then it is taken away, it will result in resentment and push-back.

Managing off-site sales reps

Management relationships can be more complicated if your company employs off-site reps. If they aren’t closely connected to the day-to-day operations in the office, they may feel out of touch. If they don’t receive the same kind of nurturing attention that in-house reps receive, they may not be representing your company in quite the same way.

To remedy this situation, managers can maintain the connection by keeping the lines of communication open. Texting and reaching out regularly by phone and email are both good approaches, but it’s always a good idea to find out how the individual prefers to be contacted to ensure their level of comfort.

Ensuring accountability through community

Accountability can be defined as the act of doing your job so well that nobody has to clean up your mess. It’s about having the tools, skills, and access to the resources that will help you do your job to the best of your ability.

By creating a sense of community within the organization, it will encourage your reps to support each other toward their collective success. If they know they are “in it” together, there will be no hesitation in seeking out the assistance or information they need to get the job done.

In conclusion, a great manager should be intimately connected to the company goals, the team goals, and the personal and professional goals of each team member individually.

Knowing what motivates employees outside of the office has a direct correlation to job performance. Set clear expectations, establish timelines, and check in with team members regularly. Ask for feedback and approach what you hear with the consideration and empathy that is their due, and they will repay you—and the company—with excellent sales performance.