The captain of every ship needs to continually check their coordinates to ensure their crew is traveling on the safest and most efficient path that will guide them to their desired destination. The same holds true for what every manager needs to do with their staff.
Every company, regardless of size or industry, needs a proven, consistent system to continually hold their team accountable. What metrics and system are you using to track and monitor their performance? (For example: number of: daily/weekly cold calls, leads generated, scheduled meetings, presentations, sales, RFP’s and proposals submitted, lost sales and why, won sales and why, callbacks, pipeline and forecast accuracy, stage of sales cycle,and so on.)
Refer back to your job description. Are they achieving the milestones and engaging in the activities that you originally agreed upon which are detailed in the job description that these candidates initially responded to? Whether you do this once a month or once a week, it’s critical that you evaluate your people, especially your new hire against these key success indicators and best practices to gauge their performance.
I recently spoke with a VP of Sales of a Fortune 500 company that I’ve been coaching. They recently changed their recruiting model for their inside sales team. Rather than management being in control of interviewing, screening and hiring candidates, this responsibility was now shifted to a specific division who solely focused on recruiting recent college graduates, then sending them off to a three month long training program.
Interestingly, as a result of this new approach, attrition increased rather than decreased, for several reasons. First, the managers who would be managing these new recruits had little or no part in the interviewing process. Second, the training these new recruits went through consisted of massive product training with little sales skills training. And finally, once these new recruits graduated from their training program and took their seat at their desk, many quickly realized that this position they thought they were hired for, was very different from the reality of the job.
In this case, the breakdown and cause of massive mis-hires was, in fact, the job description and a failure to set and manage expectations.
Ensuring your job description clearly matches the daily role, function and responsibility for the position, having a detailed onboarding process which clearly defines the daily, weekly and monthly expectations within the first 90 days, as well as an ongoing coaching and talent development process will prevent two costly and time consuming mistakes that companies commonly make.
1. Keeping Them Around Too Long
Are you keeping someone aboard who isn’t serving the best interests of the company? The, “Lets just wait and see” approach to positive retention is a surefire strategy for failure. Are you trying to be the “good guy?” Are you worried about having to refill the position? Are you attached to making this person work out? And, ultimately, are you being seduced by the potential you see in others?
Every day you keep a bad hire aboard costs the company money, time, leads and many selling opportunities. Don’t let your staff keep you prisoner. Look at the numbers. Make your decision based on their productivity and on the facts, not on your emotions.
One of the hardest parts about being the manager is letting someone go. In all of my global travels; regardless of the culture or the company, I have yet to run into the manager who tells me, “Yes, I can’t wait to fire someone next! I love terminating people!”
Instead of asking, “What’s best for me” or “What’s best for the salesperson,” ask yourself, “What’s the best decision for the company?” The answer you come up with is typically best for all parties involved.
2. Letting Them Go Too Quickly
If you’re expecting a new salesperson to produce immediate results without any conscious effort as well as training or coaching on your part, chances are, you’re hiring from need rather than from choice or you haven’t taken the time to develop a reasonable onboarding process or barometer for acceptable performance.
What established onboarding process do you follow to ensure the success of every new hire?
If you don’t have the time, mindset or patience to let them grow or to put these systems in place, you may wind up firing a salesperson that, in the long run, may have been your top producer.
But before you make the decision to let someone go, look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Have I done everything in my power to try and make this person successful?” If the answer is “Yes,” it’s time to move on to more promising candidates.
Unfortunately, this question is often subjective. That is, managers don’t often know what they don’t even know. Said a different way, when coaching managers, quite often, when a manager says, “I’ve tried everything” What they’re really saying is “I’ve tried everything that I know within my bandwidth of knowledge, skill and experience.”
Subsequently, after completing my two day management coach training program, the majority of managers experience that epiphanie moment. That is, “Wow, I thought I was developing and coaching my team but after this course, I realized that what I was doing wasn’t coaching. Instead, it was more about managing around my agenda and coaching in my own image; pushing my own expectations during each conversation.”
How Frequently Should You Evaluate Your Staff?
Aside from staff meetings or one on one coaching sessions with each employee, some companies hold year-end reviews. The problem is, unless you are continually checking in and meeting with your staff throughout the year, and keeping your finger on the pulse of every one of your direct reports, the year end review is often the first time that both the employee and employer get to share their wins as well as their challenges.
A client of mine recently shared their concern about Jon, one of their salespeople. During Jon’s year end review, they uncovered some key issues that have compromised Jon’s performance throughout the year; issues that could have easily been eliminated with additional training.
If only they had conducted their employee review on a more frequent basis, they could have recognized and eliminated this problem that not only compounded over the year but cost the company money, new business and countless hours in salvaging this employee. And if they lost this employee, it would have cost the company even more time and money to refill this position.
Mitigating Problems Through Consistent Coaching
Frequent reviews, compounded with ongoing coaching throughout the year, make it possible to turn a year-long problem into a minor week-long concern. Problems, like cancer, can metastasize. Checking the pulse of your direct reports on a consistent basis allows you to handle the little problems before they become the big problems that could have been avoided in the first place, allowing you to focus on what is most important. That is, making your people more valuable.