Today, I want to discuss an issue I often see when reviewing a sales team’s performance. I always ask sales managers what training they feel they need to improve their skill sets. The answer I hear most frequently is that they don’t need any training. I find this interesting because an outside consultant is never hired unless there are significant performance issues within the sales organization.
So what is going on here? On the one hand, the typical manager has been managing for many years, and thinks he or she knows how to do it. Of course, because a manager has been “managing” for a long time does not mean that they are good managers. On the other hand, less experienced managers can fall into the flawed mindset that there is nothing new in management techniques and their expertise of pipeline management is enough to be successful.
The truth is that good managing does not just happen. Managers do not inherently know how to interview well, handle delicate personnel issues or motivate employees in a rapidly changing marketplace. It doesn’t matter if the manager was the world’s top mortgage producer. Selling skills are not managing skills. Managing requires a high level of expertise in a marketplace where everyone has an attorney. Just being a product guideline and computer system expert is not enough.
Research studies show that a company’s investment in skill development and leadership training at the manager level pays off in both short-term and long-term gains. Why then do so few companies require their managers to receive management/leadership training? It is especially troubling that many senior management teams believe that high turnover is a fact of mortgage lending that cannot be changed. Even some of the biggest lenders who should know better should be ashamed of their high turnover rates.
Better managers have low turnover and higher productivity. Poor managers have high turnover and low productivity. Again, research confirms this over and over.
All the expensive computer and CRM systems will not make up for a bad manager. The good news is that high turnover can be reversed by training first-line managers and putting in place a structured interview process.
In previous blogs, I have discussed why front line managers are so critical. As best-selling author Stephen Covey stated: “In a top down management system, employees don’t normally interact with executives. But multiple times a day, they interact with their direct managers. And that is why the direct managers need training—they have the most influence over employee morale, engagement and performance.”
There are several ways to determine what skill sets your managers need training on:
1. Conduct a 360 survey. A good survey will pinpoint training issues for the manager.
2. Ask senior managers which areas need improvement. For example, if high turnover is the issue, training on how to hire would be important. If low productivity is the primary problem, coaching and developing employees should be focused on.
In my experience, the top three areas that all managers should receive training are: how to interview and hire sales candidates; how to develop and coach employees to the next level; and how to install effective management skills such as providing feedback to the sales team.
Why let direct managers stumble and use ineffective methods? It is time to get serious about investing in manager training.