How to lead a sales team without micromanaging everyone

Managing people can be tough. Managing a sales team can be even more challenging with all the priorities, tasks, pressure from the C-Suite and the stress of hitting monthly or quarterly quotas.

The most challenging part of the sales job is having the right balance between not enough or too much freedom for your sales team.

As a sales leader, a lot of the success that you’re after is going to come from your sales reps’ performance, which means determining how to motivate and inspire your team (without micromanaging them) is key.

Many can fall into the trap of micromanaging, as it’s easy to think that keeping a close eye on your team will result in strong results and higher-quality work.

Great managers orchestrate rather than do. Like the conductor of an orchestra, they do not play an instrument, but direct their people so that they play beautifully together. Micromanaging, in contrast, is telling the people who work for you exactly what tasks to do or doing their tasks for them. —Ray Dalio

It can be easy for sales leaders to micromanage, even if they don’t realize they are doing it. This might explain why 80% of people believe themselves to be better leaders than they are.

Micromanagers feel that they must consistently control their employees. They are always monitoring everything at work and continuously operate at high levels of stress, which stresses out their employees and can hinder work relationships.

Too close and you don’t know what you’re looking at. Too far and you can’t see. Perspective is everything.

— Steli Efti (@Steli) January 24, 2020

However, acknowledging you have an issue is the first step. If you don’t admit that you like to micromanage, you won’t improve your management style or be considered a good leader.

While it can be hard, there are ways you can still lead a sales team without micromanaging them.

Communicate with your team

Once you have determined what you want your team to accomplish, you want to begin communicating that to your sales team.

You want to have a conversation about the tasks that you care about (i.e., the work that will need your approval and advice on) so your team can avoid giving you any stress or anxiety, and you want to communicate the overall strategy effectively.

Having excellent communication in the workplace is key to a leadership position. Good communication is what separates a weak leader from a great one. And strong communication skills are crucial to being a good leader.

Tell your team how you want to be updated and how often they should provide those updates. Also, enlist their help in ensuring you don’t end up into your old habit of micromanaging.

Communicating properly is what makes a strong leader.

When you communicate effectively and overcome common barriers to communication, it can eliminate any confusion and foster a happy work environment.

Communicating with your team is essential to success and efficiency. When you accept new thoughts and ideas, you get respect and appreciation from your team.

Ask for feedback

You’re the boss. It’s your role to support and challenge your employees, so you can accomplish the results you want. To do this, you want to know if you are supporting and challenging your team properly or if you are holding them back.

You need to understand what you do well, so that you can improve on it, and you need to know what your weaknesses are so you can fix them. Thus, feedback is imperative.

It would be best if you let your employees know what you’re going to be wanting for their feedback. Although, you want to make sure you explain why you’re asking for feedback and how you are going to implement it.

As a sales leader, you must be able to take feedback from your team. And, if you model the behavior and show that you are open to feedback, you’re encouraging your team to do the same.

As The Stoic Emperor said, harsh feedback hurts less than harsh outcomes.

Feedback can be an excellent way to help you reach your professional goals. The more feedback you get, the easier it can be to grow and improve.

If you ask for feedback, this shows others you’re willing to learn and grow. Being open to your team’s comments gives you the opportunity to see your actions from a different perspective.

Let go of the idea of perfection

...perfection doesn’t exist; it is a goal that fuels a never-ending process of adaptation. If nature, or anything, were perfect it wouldn’t be evolving. Organisms, organizations, and individual people are always highly imperfect but capable of improving. So rather than getting stuck hiding our mistakes and pretending we’re perfect, it makes sense to find our imperfections and deal with them. —Ray Dalio

Dalio, Ray. Principles: Life and Work (p. 146). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

Perfectionism is usually one of the causes of micromanaging. If you want your team to be successful and grow, you must allow them to have some freedom—especially in sales.

As a sales leader, you need to accept and understand that your employees may not approach their work in the same way you do.

When you try to chase perfection, you are trying to determine what the absolute best result should be. The issue though, is that this is your perspective.

It can help if you can focus on the benefits of giving yourself the freedom to manage other priorities and the company. Then, you will be surprised to see that when you give your employees some flexibility, they can discover better ways to do things and solve issues independently.

Strive for progress, not perfection

No one is perfect. And to strive for perfection is an impractical endeavor. Perfectionism can hurt work productivity, employee morale, and efficiency.

Give your team decision-making power

Learning how to stop micromanaging your employees starts with learning how to let go of some control. Motivate your team to come up with their ideas and give them decision-making power, so they have some say in the work they are producing.

Give up some control and let your team have ownership in the work they create, rather than assigning work task-by-task.

When you let your team members help with decisions, it shows that you can trust them. And when your team is involved in the decision-making process, they will feel that they are valued and contributing to the company’s success. When somebody feels valued, they will work extra hard to help bring prosperity to the company and the sales team.

You will have more time to focus on other tasks when you get your team to take on decisions on your behalf.

Decision-making is not an easy process. It can involve taking care of a lot of tasks, especially if a decision will affect them.

Thus, when you include your team in making decisions, you do not have to be anxious about what they would say. The result is that you have more time to focus on other tasks, within the company.

Wrapping Up

It’s not easy letting go as a micromanager. You care about the quality of work, and you know that you can do many things better by doing them yourself.

Once you see the upside of giving others freedom and letting others do their work, you will be impressed by how productive you can feel doing your own work.

While you are micromanaging, you have to ask yourself, “who is doing my job”? Leaders often ignore their duties when they micromanage. This means they are restricting their growth at work. And you do not want that to happen.

By getting yourself to stop micromanaging, you will be less of an overbearing sales leader, and you’ll be empowering your team to be the best they can be.

Are you wanting to build a high performing sales team? Read our guide on building and scaling a sales team: The Sales Hiring Playbook.


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