Micromanaging and Sales Managers

During my recent training session with regional managers, attendees discussed the fatal flaw of micromanaging and cited it as a primary reason originators leave. By letting top producers “do their own thing,” managers felt they were able to spend more time trying to get another loan out of underperformers.

While many managers believe that it is better to have a hands-off relationship with their sales staff, the problem with this approach is that it rarely results in increased production. In my experience, what is really happening is a failure to coach. In today’s intense mortgage origination environment, it doesn’t make sense for managers to ignore their best originators.

So, let’s take a closer look at attributes that define a micromanager vs. those of a coaching manager. According to business consultant Martin Webster, a micromanager:

  1. Resists delegating work
  2. Immerses themselves in the work assigned to others
  3. Looks at the details instead of the big picture
  4. Discourages others from making decisions
  5. Gets involved in the work of others without consulting them
  6. Monitors what’s least important and expects regular reports on inconsequential issues
  7. Pushes aside the experience and knowledge of colleagues
  8. Loses loyalty and commitment
  9. Focuses on the wrong priorities
  10. Has a de-motivated team

Sales teams with a micromanager at the helm are often plagued with low motivation and inconsistent performance. Micromanagers in general are focused inward and not outward toward others. This type of manager frankly doesn’t have the personal leadership skills required to enhance the performance of their employees.

Micromanaging often happens in companies that rely on a producing manager structure. Because the manager’s production is what is really valued by a company, the branch as a whole has a difficult time improving selling skills at the originator level.

Comparatively, managers that coach and develop their sales staff are employee-focused and bring out the best in their originators. When a manager provides a consistent coaching effort to their employees and targets sales skills that match today’s buying challenges, everyone improves and production rises.

Some will say that coaching and developing is too slow when the company needs volume NOW. In fact, this belief regarding coaching is often why we see the same old strategies being deployed to improve performance such as designing new products with higher credit risk levels; aggressive pricing and reduced margins; and last but not least, micromanaging originators from policing timesheets to asking for more reports from the field. These are all tried and true strategies at many companies when times are challenging. Rarely do you hear managers say, “We need to invest in coaching and developing our sales staff.” Senior managers would rather invest in higher guarantees hoping the individual has been coached and trained somewhere else instead of recognizing that this is what the previous lender thought too.

Managers who coach well and develop the skills and strategies to get real buy-in from prospects are ensuring that their originators will succeed in any market conditions. At the core of good coaching, managers question their originators instead of telling the sales staff what to do. A good coach provides an environment where the team can eventually overcome obstacles independently and close more sales.

While micromanaging is a sign of a poor manager, leaving originators on their own to navigate the buyer’s journey is just as bad. The solution is to hire managers who can coach their employees to their next level.