I’m providing depth and insight to each of Gartner’s four manager profiles. Start here to learn why this research suggests an evolution in our approach to employee development.
Who is the Cheerleader Manager?
Alongside the Teacher Manager in the middle of the pack stands the Cheerleader Manager. On its face, the Cheerleader Manager is empowering and positive, putting the reigns for development in the reps hands. In this post, I’ll discuss why cheering from the sidelines isn’t enough to create the all-star selling team you want in your business today.
The theory behind the Cheerleader approach is that we “learn by doing” — not innately a bad one. Furthermore, if you can inspire and motivate without micromanaging, well, then you’ve got a self-propelling team that respects you for their autonomy and trust in them.
But looked at in another light, the hands-off approach is passive. We see this in the Cheerleader Manager’s tendency to keep feedback light and positive, and avoid criticism. While well-intentioned, a rep won’t necessarily understand there is anything amiss with their methods and not make critical steps to refine their selling strategy. Overall, this doesn’t seem to degrade selling performance. Cheerleader Managers saw a 9% improvement in their sellers’ performance. But that’s a far cry from improvement seen with the Connector Manager, which netted 2.5X more.
What’s missing with the Cheerleader Manager approach? Specificity. Positive empowerment is a good thing, but it is limited in its lack of corrective feedback. Gartner’s The Connector notes that sellers under this form of management can be left feeling motivated but aimless.
Moving from Sideline to Center
The good news about helping a Cheerleader Manager become less passive is that it isn’t really about changing bad habits. Reps should continue to be encouraged to experiment and learn through experience — just not exclusively.
Sales managers should provide corrective feedback and speak directly to development areas, not shy away from them. When a Cheerleader avoids these conversations, the rep isn’t given the opportunity to hear the full truth, and may additionally read into the passivity on their managers part as a negative.
Interestingly, Gartner’s study revealed that Cheerleader Managers tend to have received less manager mentoring in their own career. This could be why they lack the instincts to coach effectively and would benefit in creating a more formalized coaching plan to use with their reps.
Here are three adjustments Cheerleader Managers can make to improve their effectiveness:
- Get off the sidelines and onto the field – Have a plan to consistently observe your reps in action to truly understand what they do well and need to work at to improve
- Learn to provide more targeted feedback – Ask more questions of your reps to diagnose their needs and use the information gathered to provide targeted feedback
- Become network oriented – Know how to direct your reps to people and resources who can help them in specific areas
By moving from more passive to active as a manager, the Cheerleader Manager has the opportunity to go from good to great.
Make the shift. Download our free template to build a Remote Manager Playbook that will convert all of your managers into Connectors.