In the chaos of daily priorities managers often forget their most important responsibility: Developing their people. Overlooking this core leadership imperative sub-optimizes the performance of their team.

A manager’s primary job is to develop the abilities of others to perform and produce outcomes. Managers must help each individual establish attainable goals and objectives that are aligned with the needs of the business, and identify what success looks like. Then, they can step back and let their people work, providing coaching, guidance and additional training and education along the way so they continuously improve. 

But, what does ‘improving’ mean? That depends on each salesperson’s circumstance, goals, and challenges. For example, it can mean building better relationships with colleagues and customers. It can mean closing more and higher grosses. It can mean learning to prospect. It can mean developing people to grow. 

While straightforward, many managers, in the rush of everyday business, overlook five basic steps that are imperative in helping their people develop action plans for improvement.

Step 1 – Career goals: 

The first step is to understand what the salesperson’s long term goals are and how the progression along this path, fits into your business. Be honest. Work together. Listen. Develop an attainable game plan.

Step 2 – Self-assessment or a personal S.W.A.T (Strengths, Weaknesses, Attitude, Threats): 

The next step is to help the employee conduct an honest self-evaluation. A good tool is the same one used to assess businesses, but applied personally, the S.W.A.T. analysis. From a professional perspective, have the salesperson make a list of their individual attributes using one page for each of the following topics:

Strengths – characteristics that give them an advantage

Weaknesses – characteristics that place them at a disadvantage

Attitude – what beliefs, feelings, values and dispositions exist that influence the individual to act in a certain way

Threats – elements that might interfere with the opportunities to improve

As part of this process, managers should ask employees to answer the question, “Why do you work here?” In other words, why are they at this business instead of one down the street?  The answer should have to do with more than getting a paycheck. 

Step 3 – Set SMART goals:

Guide employees as they establish a plan based on SMART goals:

Letter Major Term

Goals should address three phases of career development: 

Short-term should focus on the first year

Mid-term span two to five years

Long-term extend five years or more

Step 4 – Feedback: 

Keep track of performance to enable employees to see how effective they have been in attaining the goals. Without proper feedback channels it is impossible to adapt or adjust to the required behavior. Ask questions that guide them through a self-evaluation. The goal is to have a conversation where employees identify and talk about the areas where they need to improve and the manager provides guidance and coaching. 

Step 5 – Adjust and reward: 

Adjust the plan to ensure it meets the desired outcome. Don’t wait for quarterly, bi-annual or annual reviews; work with employees weekly if not daily to assess and steer them in the right direction. As goals are attained, reward the employee for their efforts and to motive them to continue their improvement. 

Not every employee is motivated in the same way, or wants to be #1 – and that’s ok. A manager’s job is to work with each person to determine what “growing in their role” and contributing to success of the organization means. For some, it means reaching for a promotion; for others, it means expanding their current job. Managers with winning teams understand and appreciate the diversity of their people. They know how to create “heroes in every role.” They recognize that since everyone has unique strengths, helping people become more of whom they already are, often may be the best way to improve their performance. 

Managers Who Are On Top of Their Game Drive Remarkable Results

Even with a plan in place, the process of improving doesn’t happen automatically, and without a manager committed to helping and developing their people, it may never happen at all. In business, employees are the wheels that can take a company to its next level of success. But, it’s the manager that builds a fine-tuned engine through goal setting, training, educating, and coaching. It’s the managers who give their people the fuel – the motivation and desire – they need to put the company on the right road to success. Remember, if your people were capable of being managers, you’d be working for them. 

About the author

Richard F. Libin

Richard F. Libin has written two acclaimed books that help people of all walks…

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