A Management Case Study

by Eileen Nonemaker

Eileenís long, successful career in sales and sales management makes her an easy choice for those leaders and managers who are responsible for generating revenue and achieving corporate goals and have no time to waste getting there. Clients appreciate her ability to help them quickly select, assess, train and develop their sales teams whether they are selling products or services. New teams get brought up to speed quickly and experienced teams develop what is necessary to perform at the next level. Through goal setting, skill refinement and the development of accurate forecasting skills, she has helped both individuals and teams develop strong success strategies. Utilizing her formal training as a business coach and consultant to supplement her natural ability to connect with people, Eileen gains the trust and respect needed to interact with both leadership and team members. When coaching individual clients, Eileen becomes a 'lady on a mission' to help them succeed. Eileen is able to help them stay focused on their objectives and establish goals that take them to that next level in their personal and/or business lives. Her coaching typically involves teaching people how to set measurable goals, how to look at goals objectively and how to re-evaluate them periodically to stay on track. Eileenís goal as a coach is to help her clients find the right balance between career and family so they have the best of both worlds.

Just a few weeks ago I had a conversation with a business owner, who frustrated with the monthly revenue shortfalls and the upcoming projections presented by the sales manager, decided to take matters into her own hands. She side stepped the sales manager and implemented team huddles every morning, set up a contest which required each sales person to state a positive event, report the number of appointments they scheduled and attended and the dollar sales generated the day before to their peers each morning. Since a call tracking database had been recently updated, she demanded the daily logging calls, emails, appointments and follow up, even with details of conversations. Individual calendars were now to be visible to the sales manager. These new policies and procedures were implemented immediately, without consideration of previously scheduled client meetings and the two-week vacation she had planned for herself.

Week one was interesting as the sales team seriously made an effort to attend the morning huddles (in person or by call in), adjusted scheduled meetings and struggled with how to present their positive. The business owner called in from her vacation on three of the five days that it was convenient.

During week two, fewer sales people attended the meetings in person, more called in, and several had scheduled meetings at the time of the huddles, so they emailed in their positive statements, calls and sales. On one call-in, the business owner changed the positive statement to be a "personal" positive and could not be business related. The peer pressure to have sales revenue to record increased, causing those with fewer sales to feel stressed. Because the entry of calls, etc. into the database cannot be done while out on the road, sales people were feeling the pressure of coming home at the end of the day to spend sixty to ninety minutes entering their calls. Several sales people complained about having to share "personal" positives.

In week three, when the business owner returned from vacation, she started to run the call activity reports and then email or personally challenge each sales person about the number of contacts and number of meetings, without taking into consideration that the reports were run early in the am, before several of the sales people could update their calls from the previous day. The result was many frustrated calls and emails to the sales manager about being micromanaged and the lack of trust by the business owner and her unrealistic expectations.

I asked the business owner if this level of micromanagement was productive. She replied that this was not micromanagement, but just good management. We agreed to disagree.

The question becomes - what are the differences between management and micromanagement and how do we know which one we are employing?

If our hiring practices utilize interviews and assessments that can determine adult behavior patterns, self motivation and success driven individuals, then we establish the goals, monitor activity and behaviors, train and coach when pertinent and let them do their thing. In this particular team, the longevity and experience ranged from seven years to six months. The revenue generated was parallel to the experience, but the new management style was cookie cutter and applied to all of the team members equally. The more experienced, successful people resented this level of scrutiny.

There is no argument that statistics should be monitored; calls to appointments - appointments to sales. But the activity goals need to be established upfront, must be realistic and should be monitored by the individual, together with the manager. Each individual will respond differently to comments about their activity and the geography of their territory will affect the number of appointments in a given time frame.

When a culture is changed and policies are suddenly revised, one can determine if the management is micro by taking the pulse of the team. Are there higher stress levels, more sick days, fear of saying the wrong thing, avoidance of meetings when there are fewer sales to report? Do you check body language? Look at those standing in the morning huddle - Are they really in to it - or are they just biding their time until the ordeal is over? Will they even tell you if they are unhappy? Just because I am having fun, are they?

Big questions for this business owner to ask herself - Am I spending more time than necessary following my team around? If I have to watch my team this closely, why are these people still there? Meantime, who is doing my job? Are the revenue results the same or worse than before? Did the situation get better or not?

These are hard questions, but if she would take the time to carefully consider the answers, she may be grateful she did.