Manager, Do Your Job.
Manager, Do Your Job.
The 5 Tasks A Manager (Or Small Business Owner) Must Do
The most important work of a manager’s role is usually neglected.
Perhaps it’s because the manager believes they “hire adults” and “don’t have time to babysit.” It could be a misunderstanding of modern leadership. It could be that they’re leaning too much on their native skillset.
The manager’s work isn’t difficult to determine. It’s just not always sexy. But when they don’t do the boring work, the team, company and manager all suffer together. Stagnancy. Repeated mistakes. And a lack of growth.
Here’s what managers need to focus on, especially if they’re responsible for hitting sales targets.
This isn’t, “Tell ‘em what to do.” it’s more show, less tell. Meaning a manager needs to help his or her people discover the answers.
Yes, there’s a role for training: delivering content and knowledge.
Coaching, however, is helping them discover how to do it so they own it. It’s not a one-and-done thing.
Small business owners and sales managers of small teams often bring reps along for joint calls. They think that a rep will “get it” via osmosis. “Just watch me, grasshopper.”
Anyone who has done this knows the grasshopper usually is watching a different movie. It doesn’t translate.
Coaching, especially coaching customer-facing employees, involves repetition. Simulation. Role-playing. Preparation.
In fact, a manager needs to spend roughly 50% of his or her time coaching. In sales, this translates to role-playing, preparing for meetings, debriefing meetings, and reviewing pipelines to help the rep discover what’s really going on.
It’s work. It’s tedious. It leads to a lot of questions.
It’s also how reps get to the next level. It just doesn’t happen on its own.
Think about this: the best boxers in the world often hired Freddie Roach to train them for upcoming fights. They paid him 7 figures to prepare them for roughly 3-6 months for a fight.
The best. In the world. Hired someone to prepare them and make them better.
Your people making 5-6 figures probably need someone. And if you’re reading this, no one cares as much about them succeeding as you do.
Holding them Accountable
“But modern leaders don’t need to hold people accountable.”
“I hire adults. I’m not a babysitter.”
“No one did that for me when I was coming up.”
Fine. Let me know how that works out for you. If your track record on getting people to produce outside of you isn’t strong, your thinking is the problem.
Accountability is treating someone like an adult while recognizing that things come up, people fall short, they make mistakes, and their priorities shift.
Holding someone accountable isn’t micromanaging. It’s asking someone if they did the things they said they would do. Often, it’s about the things they don’t want to do, but know they need to do.
Sort of like working out. Most people hire personal trainers because it’s built-in accountability: someone is waiting on them, and they’re paying that person. It’s a double whammy.
Most of us, modern or not, regress to our comfort zone. A strong manager who cares about us will constantly push us to do the things we don’t want to do. Why? So we can get the things we really want.
Heck, I need accountability around my spending, saving, investing, eating, exercise, sleeping, and 5-6 other areas.
And when I’m not accountable in those areas, I find I’ve made a mess because I took my eye off the ball.
Let’s pretend you’re a sales leader or small business owner. Your well-being is tied to a number. To hit a quota, to make your own income, to service debt. Here’s something to remember:
It won’t happen on its own.
So we need to inspect what people are doing. Sales reps will spend a lot of time getting ready, preparing a presentation, researching, reading about how TikTok is going to be the answer to their problems, or something else.
But they must be looking for new business. You have to hold them accountable to do that. Even when it’s hard.
Consistency is what drives results.
And it needs someone to ensure the consistency is there.
I’ve done a lot of work with insurance producers. Most get to a place where they make a solid living at 150-250k per year. And they start playing a lot of golf at that point. Which is fine, if it’s what they want. But there’s more they can do, if they’ll just do the things they dislike.
We all are tempted to do it. We need someone to remind us of what’s important.
Here’s what we tell our sales consulting clients to do to start.
Ask your people at the beginning of each week, “What are you doing this week?” and at the end, “What did you accomplish?” That’s all that’s needed for a large enough chunk.
For some, you may need to ask, “Is that what you committed to?”
And for a few more, you might need to say, “That sounds like an excuse.” But only one time.
Then you’re off to the races.
You can re-read that entire last section and apply a lot of it here.
People often have some internal driver, but it’s rare that most really tap into it. Not like the owner, founder, or CEO. The person at the top often has a very clear vision for their life and their business, and the business helps them achieve their personal goals.
But many people need help getting clear on their goals. They’ve been so busy doing that they haven’t taken the time to clarify their goals.
In our work with clients, we often start with an exercise around one’s personal goals. We believe that when people take the time to do that, they start to put a much stronger “Why?” around their work. It’s not always obvious.
As a manager, you need to help your people tap into their goals. And then have the courage to help them work toward those, even if that means a future without your company in it.
You’ve not seen productivity from an employee until you’ve seen that of a person who knows their goals and how your business fits into it.
So start by asking your people, “What are you working toward?”
And then ask, “How can I help?”
Your first act of service for that employee may be to help him or her figure out their goals.
A business underperforming is a disappointment. But the real tragedy is that the manager had no clue what his or her employees’ goals were. Both end up losing.
What an elusive word. Its definition is like trying to understand how refs see pass interference in college. Or what a catch is in the NFL.
Employees go through seasons of growth. And they need someone to help guide them.
Sometimes it’s their professional growth in the business. How they handle customers. How they work with other people. How they plan. How they develop new skills.
Sometimes it’s their personal growth. How they handle being a new mother while working. How they organize their work to allow coaching of their kids’ team at 4 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Sometimes it’s in their professional growth beyond the business. How they select their next job. How they interview. How they negotiate for more salary.
A great manager helps the person, not just the role, at all steps of their path.
The mark of a great manager is that they have to replace their people because they graduated into better roles elsewhere.
Netflix prides itself on being a company where people come from.
Nick Saban is known as the person to work for if you’re a college coach and need a second chance.
Because people know that by working for him, they come out better prepared for a head coaching job. Guess what? The market also knows it, and places a premium on his assistants.
No, not your planning. Yes, you need to do that. By rep, by territory, by product, by quarter.
But theirs. They need help.
How will they get to their goals? What do they need to do, how much, and when?
And it’s not just sales reps who need help planning.
Operations and finance personnel need it. And don’t think that throwing an instance of Monday.com or Asana at them is going to get it done.
Many people need help prioritizing and planning, knowing how to order what needs to be done. Usually, they’re so swamped with their own work they can’t see a way through it.
Which is where you, Mr. or Ms. Manager, come in. Help them think it through. And plan it. You might end up doing some coaching while you’re at it.
If your team has a top 3 initiative next year or quarter that requires a plan, chances are they need your help putting it together.
And if they don’t? By talking to them about it, you may build a better relationship and understand their goals and challenges better.
What manager doesn’t want that?
None of this is sexy. All of it is essential.
If you don’t coach, your people don’t get better.
If you don’t hold them accountable, performance suffers.
If you don’t help them understand their own goals, they likely underperform.
If you don’t mentor them, they make worse decisions, and you miss opportunities to build better relationships.
If you don’t help them with planning, don’t expect much execution.
That’s it. It’s straightforward.
And it’s your job.
Are you a small business owner trying to figure out how to get the best out of your sales team?
Or is a rock star seller now promoted to lead a team?
If so, we may be able to help. Email me at email@example.com