My friend, Tibor Shanto, and I were talking this morning. He asked me a fascinating question, “Why don’t managers have a development plan or roadmap for developing the capabilities and performance of their people?”

The question caused me to pause and reflect. Very few managers sit down with their people and develop a plan to help them learn, grow, and contribute at higher levels. Mostly, if managers are coaching performance at all, it’s tactically oriented; how do we win this deal, how do we fill the pipeline, what are you doing in this next call…..?

But we know, if we are going to maximize performance, if we are going to achieve our quarterly and annual goals, we have to have a longer perspective than just dealing with what is happening now. We have to have a plan, with our people, to grow them and maximize their performance.

As I reflected, I realized, as managers we would find it unacceptable for our people not to have account plans for their key accounts. It would be unacceptable for them not to have territory plans, maximizing the growth within their territories. We invest millions in software tools to help do these things, we invest additional millions in training to do these things, we invest thousands of person hours in account and territory planning.

We know that to maximize our performance in territories and accounts, we need to develop and execute plans for what we will be doing with them over the next year or more. When I was responsible for major accounts, I would make my account planning process a collaborative process with my customers. We would sit down periodically through the year thinking about what we could accomplish together. We would review what we had accomplished, based on our previous sessions. We looked at what we had missed. We looked at what more we might do.

My customers appreciated this, because they knew we were doing this to focus on the areas in which we might be most helpful to them. It gave us the opportunity to think about how we worked together to help each of us achieve our goals.

All of us know how important this process is. As managers, we know these are important to proactively driving growth, both in our accounts and our territories. Any sales person not doing this would immediately be put on a performance improvement plan.

But let’s shift our perspective.

How many managers are going through a similar process with each of their people? How many managers have developed a plan to maximize the performance and potential of each person on the team?

The process is actually very similar to the account planning process. We identify goals and priorities for the year. We identify strengths and weaknesses. We look at what the sales person want to achieve in their performance and personal growth. We look at roadblocks to achieving these things. We help our people identify things they may not have thought of before. We help them learn, grow, and change.

Like our accounts, we have shared objectives with our people. We need them to perform at certain levels, they have goals and objectives for their own achievement.

So think about it.

What is your “territory plan” for your team? What are you doing to maximize the performance and growth of your team?

What is your “account plan” with each person on your team? What are you doing to maximize their growth and performance through the year and into the future?

Can we be any less accountable for maximizing the potential of our teams and people than our expectations of our people in their accounts/territories?