Is Organizational Stress Disrupting Your Sales Department?

BY C. Lee Smith
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Is there a bully at work in your sales department? Many organizations are requiring their employees to return to the office, an event that will cause old alliances and grudges to resurface and contribute to organizational stress. This situation may lead to a toxic culture. If you fail to take action to improve your employees’ work environment, you’re contributing to their poor mental health. Some of your employees will develop depression, resulting in low output and decreased loyalty, unless you take action on two fronts: invest in more sales manager training and use psychometric assessments when hiring sales professionals.

Organizational Stress

How can you tell if you’ve got an organizational problem? Researchers at the University of South Australia recently studied the link between low psychosocial safety climate (PSC) and the emerging major depression symptoms which appeared after one year in the negative work environment.

The PSC climate refers to several workplace factors. In this study, the factors included:

Job strain – This factor could include loading too many responsibilities onto one employee. And then failing to check on whether they feel overwhelmed.

Low decision latitude – Your employees don't want to constantly check with their supervisor for every problem they run into. They'll start to feel like nobody trusts or cares about them. If you suddenly tell them they need to work three extra hours this afternoon, the stress level ratchets up. They have no control. And now they have to worry about missing the game they were supposed to coach for their daughter’s soccer team.

Bullying – Bullying and harassment comes in many forms. Some employees feel harassed when a co-​worker or manager comments on their appearance. If you’ve recently established a “hot-​desking” workspace policy in the office, some employees might be gaming the system. Or managers might be reserving the sought-​after workspaces for their favorite employees, leaving other workers to fend for themselves and feeling bullied.

Sales Manager Training

The one common thread in all of the workplace deficiencies is managerial responsibility. “Evidence shows that companies who fail to reward or acknowledge their employees for hard work, impose unreasonable demands on workers, and do not give them autonomy, are placing their staff at a much greater risk of depression," says lead researcher Dr Zadow.

How much do your sales managers understand about the stress their reps are feeling? If you’re not sure how to answer that question, sign them up for sales manager training. Your managers may believe you are measuring their success on their ability to make the numbers set for their department. That metric, while important, can also be short-​sighted. Good managers also nurture their team members and develop their skills. Not all managers possess these abilities so they may need institutional support to improve.

Use Psychometric Assessments When Hiring

Dealing with toxic personalities in the sales department is another form of organizational stress. You’ll want to take every precaution to avoid hiring a Jungle Fighter who will come into the department with the sole objective of being the only successful individual. Their kill or be killed mindset will drive out your most talented reps. The Exploiter, who fears losing control, will make their own rules and dig for information they'll use for their own personal gain. When you use psychometric assessments that warn about which candidates have toxic tendencies in workplace settings, you’ll be able to determine whether the potential risks of hiring them outweigh the rewards.

You owe your sales professionals a supportive and drama-​free work environment. If you don’t take transparent steps to show you care and to improve problems, you’ll be struggling to hold onto your best workers in this changing economy.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels.