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.
I’d like to start with the manager who causes the most strain on the individual seller and the team and actually degrades seller performance by 8%, on average. We’ve all had this manager, and by that I don’t mean “that one manager that one time.”
The Always On manager is common. Standard, even. In fact, many managers fall into this category, because most senior leaders still believe the Always On approach is the best one! Let’s look at why that is.
Who is the Always On Manager?
An Always On manager provides feedback, or coaching, frequently. Too frequently. Feedback is often given in the moment, presumably with the goal of making it clear and contextual for the recipient.
There is a spectrum of what it means to be an Always On manager. Behaviors range from the very obviously unhelpful (expects a minute-by-minute rundown of how you’re spending your time and why; consistently derails a focused task with non-urgent fire drills; commands his report in all things — including what he’s not an expert in) to the more subtle, and more typical Always On approach to seller coaching and development.
I’m going to focus on this more standard-variety Always On type because it is not widely recognized as detrimental to performance. According to Gartner, this management style follows the conventional wisdom of our “always on” mentality in the sales org.
Characteristics of the Always On manager
An Always On manager spends a lot of time with her reps.These are committed individuals — so committed that a seller’s most critical areas for improvement become unclear. She probably assumes, as most do, that the more time she spends coaching and providing feedback, the better. That’s not actually the case, but I’ll get to that.
The perspective of the Always On manager is that the agenda for development should come from the top-down, and that the manager is the best source of coaching and feedback for the seller. Let’s face it, though – Are we all qualified in all areas? Could there be a situation in which a seller would benefit from guidance in a form other than what his manager innately knows?
Of course we can recognize that’s the case. We need to stop side-stepping the fact that managers need guidance, too.
How the Always On Manager Influences Team Performance
I mentioned that most senior sales leaders currently believe the Always On approach to be a great one. Gartner’s research has determined that not to be the case, for a few reasons.
First, while top-down delivery of employee development needs is telltale of Always On management, it doesn’t make much sense when you consider the data:
- Just 18% of employees believe their managers understand their work.
- 45% of managers lack confidence in their ability to develop the skills sellers need to be successful.
Wow! If a seller doesn’t have confidence his manager “gets” his struggles, it’s no wonder the constant feedback of the Always On approach has a negative impact on performance.
There is also the aspect of time dedicated to coaching. Many will find it shocking that Gartner found NO significant relationship between employee performance and manager time spent “developing employees.” Quality over quantity is the best answer.
This further explains why the Always On manager’s constant coaching isn’t yielding positive performance results. It’s actually impinging on them.
Too-frequent feedback, whether its source is seeking control or truly seeking to help, clouds an employee’s judgement of their choices and priorities, and this in turn makes them less confident, capable, and productive.
We all know the “quality over quantity” adage, yet the frontline manager standard has become an unpracticed doling-out of a high quantity of feedback that is of low quality to the rep. It’s hurting your numbers, and it’s time for a shift in mentality.
Make the shift. Download our free template to build a Remote Manager Playbook and convert all of your managers into Connectors.