The 4 Activities Leaders Should Spend the Majority of Their Time Doing
A leader’s only valuable is their time, which is too often wasted on activities that don’t generate a good return.
A leader’s number one asset is their people, which are too often left to waste with no clarity around expected behavior or a path to advancement in their organization.
To make the best use of their only valuable and achieve the greatest return on their number one asset, Sandler recommends a leader invest at least 50% of their time each week with their direct reports, splitting their time amongst the following four activities.
When investing time coaching, mentoring and training, many leaders spend time with their C-players, which is a mistake because C-players rarely rise higher than a B minus. Have your C-players earn your time and instead invest your time in your A-players, who are often ignored and taken for granted, and your ambitious B-players, who want to become As. Here’s how I would break out that 50% of your time:
1. Supervising (40% of 50%) – Supervising is code for “accountability.” Leaders with veteran teams will say that they don’t need to supervise because “their team knows what to do.” Actually, those team members know what they like to do, which can be very different than what their leader expects them to be doing.
For example, an organization I worked for analyzed their CRM data and discovered that 80% of their veteran reps’ meetings were with the same 5-7 accounts in each of their assigned client lists. Those 25-35 clients loved their individual rep and were happy to tell the rep that whenever they met. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with people who tell you how much they love you? Unfortunately, while those reps were being showered with strokes they failed to achieve the net new growth targets set by their manager.
Supervising takes two forms, Group Accountability Meetings (GAMs) and Weekly Individual Meetings (WIMs). Most organizations have a version of a GAM already, which they call the weekly “sales meeting.” Modifying a weekly sales meeting into a GAM just means adjusting the agenda from random discussions of select opportunities to reporting on specific accountabilities and confirming that every opportunity in each rep’s pipeline has a confirmed next step in the next 45 calendar days. WIMs take no more than 20 minutes per rep per week either as one 20 minute meeting or a 5-minute check in on Monday, and a 15-minute check out on Friday. The WIM is like a GAM, except that it is specific to that rep. WIMs are not coaching sessions.
2. Coaching (40% of 50%) – Coaching is helping your direct reports become more effective in their current roles. The most effective coaching tactic we encourage our clients to use is role play. The hardest four inches to move in our life is from our brain to our mouth, so role play gives employees a safe place to practice after their leader has demonstrated their expected behavior, by role playing as the salesperson/customer service rep/project manager first.
Coaching is also about improving your employees’ performance ratios. In sales, that could be the ratio of prospecting attempts to conversations with decision makers.
3. Mentoring (10% of 50%) – Mentoring has two components—onboarding and preparing for future roles. When onboarding, as with role play, it is critical that you as leader demonstrate the behavior you expect from your new employee. It is also critical that your employee be given an onboarding plan that lays out clear expectations for performance in their first 12 weeks onboard, with weekly check-ins with their leader to demonstrate role specific behavior like delivering a 30-second commercial or making a prospecting call.
While coaching helps employees succeed in their current roles, mentoring helps prepare employees for future roles in your organization or out of your organization. To effectively mentor your team, each member must have a personalized development plan. Personalized development plans usually need a third-party perspective like a consultant or a diagnostic such as the Devine Inventory, to be valuable for leader and direct report alike.
4. Training (10% of 50%) – Training means giving your employee the tools to become self-sufficient in their role provided they demonstrate the ability to succeed in their current role and the desire to grow their skills. Leaders then give encouragement to that employee to grow and develop. Encouragement, especially with A-players, isn’t “rah-rah.” Instead, encouragement is challenging them to be more than they currently are in their existing role.
Some leaders will look at their calendar and feel like investing 50% of their time in their team is impossible. Make it possible and enjoy the benefits, like more time, that comes with a self-sufficient team.