Not Everyone Needs a Management Role

BY Kathy Crosett
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Have you taken a hard look at your sales team lately? Do you know which reps want a management role or to advance? That’s a trick question. Most everyone on the team wants to advance — either in terms of making more money and/​or taking on more responsibility. The problem in most sales departments is that there is only one clear path to advancement — the sales manager job. And many reps just aren’t management material.

Jeanne Sahadi reports that some employees have no interest in being managers. But they still want to feel their careers are progressing. It’s up to you to develop a path for these employees. If you don’t address these employee expectations, you risk losing a valued member of your team, perhaps to a competitor.

When Your Rep Doesn’t Aspire to Management

According to Gallup research, over 25% of employees changed jobs in the past year. In the three-​month period before they left their company, about half of these folks say their managers didn’t talk with them about job satisfaction. And, we reported recently that 22% of employees left a position because of the lack of career development. [Workforce Institute Retention Report.] 

That’s an expensive blunder for managers to make. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to work with employees on developing career objectives. You may not be able to give them a management title, but you can create other career development perks. If your organization is launching a new product or service, give responsibility for business development to your ace new business hunter. Make sure a new title and bump in pay accompany this job change. If another one of your reps is technically adept, you could officially assign them the role of CRM guru. Set clear guidelines about how much time they should spend on this part of their job. And offer to let them take the necessary courses to develop the skills they need.

When Your Rep Shouldn't Have A Management Role

You may also have reps on your team who believe they can perform the sales manager job better than you. And you might have some reservations about moving them into a management role. These reservations may step from the results of any sales assessment test these reps might have taken when you hired them. If a person scores low in empathy, they might not be able to connect effectively with team members. And if you’ve noticed this individual tends to take over and do things themselves rather than helping other team members learn how to complete a task, you might have a problem. When in a management role, this individual may not be patient enough to allow team members to learn from their failings. They may not be interested in truly developing the members of their team.

You’ll have to engage in a difficult conversation with this rep in order to explain why you can’t move them into a management role. Review the details of any sales assessment tests they may have taken. There, you might gain some insight into what motivates this person. If you can develop other job responsibilities that speak to those specific motivations, you’ll be able to keep your employee engaged. And, you’ll eliminate any chances of them hurting the culture of your existing sales team.

Stay in close touch with sales reps and don’t allow them to grow stale in their role. It’s your job to make sure the team meets its goals. If you want them to succeed and remain engaged, they need to see a clear career path.