Is Your Bottom-​Line Mentality Trashing Your Team's Spirit?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Your sales team has a number. You know it and they know it. Does it pay off to relentlessly focus on making that number, to engage your bottom-​line mentality? Maybe not, according to research published by Baylor University.

BLM Defined

Matthew Quade, Benjamin McLarty and Julena Bonner studied employee attitudes about supervisors who focus exclusively on the bottom line. These researchers use the phrase "bottom-​line mentality" to describe this kind of supervision. Employees are well aware of these supervisors. They fear asking for a day off when their BLM supervisor is driving toward making goal for the month.

When BLM Succeeds

If you’re new to sales management, you may be stressing about getting your team to make your number. This big focus on the bottom line may succeed temporarily in a hyper-​growth environment when everyone stands to earn a big reward. If you and your team members anticipate sharing in the proceeds of an IPO, you’ll all have a vested interest in the bottom line.

How to Move Past BLM

In the long run, an exclusive focus on the bottom line will have disastrous results. There will be times when growth and sales slow. During those periods, all of your employees, especially those with BLM tendencies, need emotional support from you and each other. They’ll feel better if they can expand their focus. One way to do that is to help them develop professionally so they can eventually expand their role at your organization. They’ll also be more committed when they can take pride in the product or service they are selling. All of these details add up to a positive work culture, so make sure you're focusing on them. 

When you’re working with team members who don’t share your BLM attitude, you risk additional problems. As you encourage your sales reps to make 30 more cold calls a day, they’ll start to resent you. Baylor Researchers founds that these interactions lead to “low-​quality leader-​member exchange (LMX) relationships.” In the end, productivity, which is what you’re hoping for, actually can drop.

The next time you get your number from your manager, think about how to improve team spirit and motivation. That way, you won't have to prod people to succeed. They'll want to do that on their own.