Managers as Coaches
Once I had a boss who said there are three types of employees, the work horses, the non-consistent employee (these are the ones who on any given day, may perform well one day and poorly the next – it’s a toss of the coin), and finally there are the dead wood employees.
As you can see from the bell curve, high-performing employees are to the right of center and low performers are to the left of center. Average performers are in the middle. New hires would be designated as average as they typically take more of the manager’s time and energy. We know that our energy is a valuable resource. Therefore, the question to ask is: “Where do managers typically spend their time and energy?” We should be focusing our energy where it can produce
the greatest value. Coaching average to low performing employees is not the place to expend such a valuable resource. Spending energy coaching the top 40% to 50% provides the greatest return. For average performing employees, mentoring, guiding, and some coaching is the way to go. Poor or low performers need supervising. Further, coaching the top performers elicits three valuable ROIs:
- Top performers “get it” more quickly and will follow coaching benefits more readily.
- Top performers create a multiplier effect and coaching can become part of the culture because of this.
- Top performers instigate peer coaching, thus providing the manager with more time.
Coaching can provide a healthy ROI in terms of productivity and coaching can save managers time and energy. However, some say that sales is a different animal and have concerns about whether coaching can improve sales results. Moreover, sales training provides the essentials of selling and has been a reliable resource for years.
Training will always be a needed tool for team development. However, it can only be effective if it is implemented. Studies indicate that
- One out of seven companies conduct no training for their sales team.
- Half of the companies studied, train their sales staff one to four times per year.
- Some third year sales professionals receive three to six days of training per year. (Markowitz, n.d.).
Today, there are many ways to conduct training making it more convenient than ever for a team member to take advantage of it on demand. In fact, technology plays a large role with the use of apps to help the sales professional and are available 24/7. A structured training is more of an event where coaching builds a relationship and it allows the coach to dig deeply in order to understand what the sales professional needs in order to be successful. Further, with training, there is seldom, if ever, any accountability or even follow-up. Feedback from the coach can prove invaluable as he or she provides an objective view for the sales professional to find a continuum with which to work.
Obviously, coaching can be a valuable tool for managers in managing and in saving time and energy. However, no one tool is a panacea that meets every need and a good coaching program needs to be supported by the executive office and training. Managers with no coaching experience will need to be trained and yes, coached – even coaches need coaching.