A leader is like being a tightrope walker. The secret of a successful team is balance, and the one in charge to ensure it is the team leader.
If you ever worked in teams, you surely noticed your leaders’s errors: some of them were too strict, like micro-managers, while others were too permissive and friendly, loosing the grip on the team.
Now that you are the leader of your sales team, you don’t want to repeat their errors! In fact, you know that a misstep can result in poor performance or even in people leaving the team, looking for another job.
How to do it? The secret lies in being able to balance the extremes of the way you interact with your employees, becoming a sales coach. Let’s see the main four axes you should start practice to balance, with practical tips.
1. Control vs. Autonomy
This is the first axis, which often is taken for granted. You have probably been taught that the role of the leader is to control the team, but it is actually the opposite: your goal should be to check your employees as little as possible, making sure that they become independent and work in the right direction. People should not feel the need to ask your advice whenever they are in doubt, nor explain you all of what they have done.
By feeling more autonomous, they will work better, feeling more gratified, and you could take care of more important things. At the same time, however, you should be aware of their activities and results without being intrusive, so that you could take the necessary corrective measures.
One way to facilitate this balance is to use a tool to track the team daily work, such as time trackers like Harvest App, and applications for sharing to-dos and results with the team, such as the same Sellf, where the sales leader can have each employee activities under control.
2. Listening vs. Communications
A team is the sum of different skills, backgrounds and personalities. You have surely noticed that each of your employees thinks in a different way, has different priorities and a personal way to approach the work. Since your ability should be to smooth all of these differences, what could you do but listening to each person all the time? Understanding what their problems are, what their ideas and wishes is the first step to improve the team’s atmosphere and quality of work.
Listening, however, must be balanced with the ability to communicate effectively. You can not please everyone, so it is important to explain your choices and to motivate people to overcome their own ways of seeing things.
In order to set the correct atmosphere of listening-communication, it is very useful to plan short and regular meetings, when everyone can talk openly with others and where decisions can be taken together rather than imposed from the top. In addition, you can create a virtual space where anyone with an idea can propose it in a very simple way. If you use Slack or another platform for team communication, you can start a channel for “ideas”, one for “tips”, another for “interesting articles”, etc.
3. Example vs Claim
As you look at your co-workers constantly, so they look at you. If you arrive at the office late every day, postpone a meeting one minute before the start or delegate to others every task you don’t like, in the same way they will feel entitled not to respect the timetable and to complain about their tasks. If you expect something from others, you should lead by example!
This doesn’t mean spending your life in the office, nor carrying out any work yourself. Remember the concept of balance? You have to find yours, showing your team a healthy way to approach their job: train yourself to be precise about simple things, such as schedules and adherence to commitments. For example, do not write to your collaborators during the weekend, unless it is an emergency! Balance your ability to delegate, starting to carry out yourself tedious tasks, such as correcting a draft or printing and copying documents.
A simple method to improve is to keep a diary, which can be both on paper or using a tool like Evernote, where to write down the positive and negative things of your own daily behavior: the first step is to notice where you are wrong, then to improve! In fact, if you want to be a sales coach, you should be able to train yourself first. Try to put yourself under scrutiny, you’ll see the results!
4. Reward vs Review
Well, perhaps this is the most difficult dimension to balance. It’s so easy to become a loose team leader no one pays attention to and always rewards employees even with low results, or a tough leader who just makes employees afraid being never satisfied with their work. If you are more inclined to not be making people responsible for their errors by reviewing their performance, and sometimes you even fix yourself poorly performed tasks, then you should train to be more critic towards your collaborators – always in a constructive way of course! If on the contrary you often yell at employees and all the time are not satisfied with their work, then it is definitely necessary to train yourself to remain calm. Getting angry about anything can only create fear around you, and I assure you that no one can work well while stressed and burned out!
Be always ready to celebrate the positive results and look objectively at the negative results, proposing a solution already or inviting those who made mistakes to suggest their own way to improve.
In Sellf we are convinced that the reward-review trade off is one of the most important, because it is the one that determines people motivation and career/personal growth for both the manager and the employee. For this reason Sellf is focused on the achievement and sharing of goals: a positive result from one person is the spring to motivate all the others. Plus, we designed for leaders like you a full dashboard of team statistics, where you can see who is outperforming and deserves a reward, and who instead needs a hand to improve.
In short, if rather than a “micro-managing” leader you want to become a real “sales coach“, who takes the best out of people and makes them feel satisfied about their job, you must be the first to balance your choices and actions. Start training now!