There’s a lot written about what managers should expect of their people. In sales, it’s usually summarized as “Make your numbers and stay out or trouble!” (With the first being, by far, the most important).)

But in reality, it’s a two way street. Our people have (and should have) expectations of us. Sadly, too often, we’re oblivious too those expectations, or simply lack the empathy to care. And we see the result of this through skyrocketing voluntary attrition. The primary reason people leave a company is not comp, but because of their direct managers.

Just as we evaluate our people and their performance, constantly, our people are evaluating us. So it’s important to understand what our people expect of us.

Some thoughts:

  1. Have you ever asked the simple questions, “What are your expectations of me, as your manager,” and “How can I be most helpful to what you are trying to achieve?” And then, have you taken the time to listen, probe, and understand?
  2. Our people expect/deserve clarity: What are the expectations we have of them? How will their performance be evaluated? What could cause them to be perceived as bad performers? What are the priorities they have for us and the organization has of them?
  3. Our people need to know how we will help them maximize their performance in the job. How can you help? What coaching can you provide? How are you going to help them learn, develop, and execute? How are you going to help them maximize their performance? How are you going to get help for them–how are you going to help them get the resources and support they need from the rest of the organization? How are you going to shelter/protect them from the organization—too often, our companies, in the spirit of being “helpful,” do things that waste our people’s time.
  4. What are you going to do to develop them, not just for performance in the current job, but how will you help them develop and grow, taking on more responsibility in the organization and growing them in their career?
  5. Are you prioritizing your time investment in them? As managers, it’s so easy to deprioritize the time we invest in our people. We are called into all sorts of meetings, we want to spend time with our managers and senior executives, we want to talk about future plans, strategies, and everything else but driving day to day performance and execution. Those are the fun things to do as a manager, but they are seldom helpful to our people. Alternatively, there are managers that hide behind their screens, consumed in reports. Somehow they think if they look at more and more data, they will discover the secret to performance and hitting the numbers. We make our numbers through our people, consequently, we leverage our time most effectively in working with them.
  6. How will you serve/support them in executing their sales strategies? Too often, out of arrogance or other factors, when our people ask us to participate in a meeting with a customer, we take it over. We make the meeting about us and what we want to accomplish. In reality, we are most impactful as a resource to our people in executing their strategies. They are bringing us in, we need to understand what they are trying to achieve and our role in helping them achieve those goals.
  7. Do we deliver on our commitments to them? Too often, we casually make commitments to our people but fail to deliver on them. We don’t get them the support resources, help we committed, we aren’t available to them, we deprioritize them. How can we expect them to meet their commitments, if we don’t make our commitments to them?
  8. Do we have their backs? This should be obvious, but too often, our people don’t know or don’t think we have their backs. This is critical to establishing trust based relationships with our people.
  9. Do we care? Are we committed to their personal success and growth? I should not need to explain this.

We have expectations of our people. Likewise, they have expectations of us. It’s a two way street, we depend on each other. Make sure you understand the expectations your people have of you and make sure you deliver on them.