Managers – What’s Your Magic Metric?

BY C. Lee Smith
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What’s different about today’s business world?  Shane Metcalf, co-​founder of 15Five and a recent guest on Manage Smarter reminds us that “we’re not just working from home, we’re operating in a pandemic,” and that new reality requires us to find the magic metric. Too many managers may be obsessing over details and insisting that employees account for every minute of their workday. Instead they should understand the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation and manage to the magic metric to increase engagement and productivity.

Extrinsic Versus Intrinsic Motivation

Managers should know that only 30% of their workforce is highly engaged. That figure came from Gallup Poll. And that statistic reflects the fact that many managers rely on extrinsic motivation. For example, they review reports to find out if their reps make 10 cold calls or send out a specific number of emails every day. The fear of losing their jobs is what makes many reps respond in this kind of work environment, but they often get into a ‘work-​to-​rule’ mindset. When they feel the pressure to satisfy an arbitrarily set goal, they refuse to go the extra mile or engage in any creative thinking about how to make the company and its solutions better.

When you appeal to an employee’s intrinsic motivation, you are valuing the concept of Metcalf’s magic metric. Intrinsic motivation is all about showing that you understand your employees’ strengths and what their vision is for the future. If you can help them craft the kind of work they should be doing to get there and help them polish specific sales skills, they’ll respond with more passion and engagement.

Magic Metric

Sales managers can start this process by giving their sales team members a sales skills assessment. A good assessment considers far more than personality. These results can reveal details about an individual’s work style, how they prefer to communicate, and their strengths and weaknesses. Managers can use these data points to start a conversation about career planning with team members, even during our remote work era.

Managers should understand that these assessment results form the basis for the start of a conversation. Over time, they should use an automated coaching solution to help sales reps develop key skills. And they should also touch base regularly on job changes the rep would like to make.

By speaking to the needs of the whole person, a sales manager can improve the team’s loyalty and engagement overall. 

Show Employees A Little Love

Whether your team is working from a remote location or in the offices down the hall, manager check-​ins must cover more than a status report on projects, especially during recessionary times. You don’t need to be close friends with your direct reports, but you do need to understand what’s stressing them. Most of us are dealing with the psychological impact of social distancing, huge schedule disruptions, and fear about the future. It’s important to ask team members what they are struggling with.

Employees who feel safe enough to admit that the continued homeschooling of their kids, for example, is draining them are showing trust. They’re taking a risk. Assure them that sharing these personal details won’t work against them. When you show empathy by making a supportive statement in return, you’re building more trust. You’re also learning how to appeal to their intrinsic motivation.

When everyone on the team is having a tough time, you might want to show them a little love. Sending a small gift to each person’s remote location with a personal note can increase their positive feelings about you and the work they’re doing. Your generosity highlights an important message about the culture you’re creating – that people on your team care about each other.

Try team building exercises during the lunch hour on a weekly or monthly basis. Some of Metcalf’s suggestions include having each staff member do a presentation on a topic they’re passionate about that is non-​work related. Leaders can also strengthen cross-​team bonds and culture by supporting employees in their personal interests as Google has done with its orchestra.

When managers support the needs of the whole person, they can improve the team’s loyalty and engagement overall. The magic metric is all about finding what intrinsically motivates each rep.