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One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “How do I find the time to coach?” My immediate reaction is, “How can you possibly do your job without taking the time to coach?”

Let me deconstruct this a little.

Managers are accountable for making sure their teams hit their numbers. But there are only a few ways to do this.

  1. The manager can play “super sales person.” After all, the manager was probably a top sales person that was promoted into the manager role. Here’s the challenge with this strategy. First, when the manager was an individual contributor, while he was a top performer, it took full time effort to achieve those levels of performance. Trying to do the same thing as a FLSM, the numbers go against him. If he has 10 people on his team, but continues to play the role of an individual contributor, he must do 10 times the number of deals he did in the past, but he has the same 24 hours/day, 7 days a week. So the manager quickly runs out of time, it becomes impossible to achieve the numbers.
  2. I know what you are thinking, the manager doesn’t have to do 100% of those activities himself. He can tell his people what to do, swooping in at the end to close the deal. These managers are in “tell mode.” Basically, this individual is pulling on the strings in the background. The way this works is each sales person has to brief him on everything that’s happening with a deal. After the manager is briefed, he tells the sales person what to do, the sales person goes out to do those things, then comes back, updating the manager, waiting to be told what to do next. Ultimately what happens is the manager us having to be updated every week on every deal. Let’s say each sales person has a pipeline of 50 deals. That’s 500 deals across the team. If the manager only spends 10 minutes a week on each of those deals, that’s 5000 minutes or 83 hours a week. And that’s just doing telling people what to do on their deals. Even if the manager only reviewed half those deals each week, it’s over 40 hours. But the manager has to spend time doing all sorts of other things.
  3. Now the situation, gets much more complicated. If the manager is doing any variant of 1 or 2, their top performers get pissed off. After all, they know how to do these deals themselves, perhaps better than the manager, but the manager doesn’t recognize this and is in tell mode with those top performers. They get pissed off and leave. They go to a place where they have the ability to make their own contributions, growing their capabilities and career. So the manager is left with the poorest performers. All of a sudden the dynamics change. Only the low performers are left, they aren’t as good in executing the manager’s instructions, win rates plummet, the manager has to go out and do more himself, the 83 hours a week he had been spending is no longer enough.
  4. There’s the other situation, the manager that believes they can make the numbers sitting behind the desk doing analysis. Their people are struggling, they need help, but the manager is too busy doing spreadsheets to understand the what’s going on or to coach the sales people on how they can win. But they do need information and need to be informed, so they can add that data to their models and analysis. They spend a lot of time with sales people reporting what’s going on on every deal. This takes time the people would normally be spent selling. The manager will see this in their analysis, recognizing the sales people aren’t spending enough time selling. To understand this situation, they take more of their sales people’s time—-you know where this is going…..
  5. In each of these scenarios, you can see the manager has structured impossible situations for themselves and their teams. They simply run out of time, there is no way they can get their jobs done and assure their people are making the numbers. To survive, at least from a workload and time point of view, they start taking short cuts, they spend their time on certain situations or certain people, ignoring everything else. But now they are increasing the risk, it becomes even more unlikely to achieve their plan. For example, they focus only on a few deals or people. But their goals are based on each person on the team achieving their numbers. Now you see that even these pragmatic short cuts put performance of the whole team at risk.

Too many managers adapt one or some combination of the styles I’ve outlined above. It’s no wonder, they say, “I don’t have the time to coach!” But they don’t have the time to achieve success using these techniques!

What would happen if the mindset of managers changed?

What if managers recognize they only way they achieve their goals is through maximizing the performance of their teams?

Then what if they considered, “How do I maximize the performance of each person on the team?” Quickly, the manager realizes developing their capabilities, helping them develop stronger win strategies, or increase the quality of their pipelines, or improve what they accomplish in each interaction with the customer, or how to better use their time.

The more the manager get people to do these things, the more likely they are each going to be able to achieve their goals, enabling the manager to achieve his goals.

Once the manager gets to this point, then they start thinking, “How do I do this?” Pretty soon the manager will realize the only way to do this is through coaching and developing their people.

Soon the manager recognizes, coaching is the highest leverage on the manager’s own time in maximizing the performance of the team.

Ultimately, the manager realizes he doesn’t have the time not to coach!