Sales Managers: Are You Playing "Dirty?"

Did you ever stop to consider your own behavior as a sales manager? So often, managers never think to reflect on their own attitudes and actions when auditing their teams and work environments. If you’ve noticed some strife among your team members, or low sales numbers, it could be a reflection of your own actions. In an article for Psychology Today, Ronald E Riggio Ph.D. shares four “dirty” psychological tricks that some leaders use on others, and he notes that leaders may not even realize they are doing these things. He even points out that good AND bad leaders use psychological devices to their benefit but there’s a difference: “The difference between good and bad leaders is how they use them,” he writes. As a sales manager,  do you ever find yourself:

  • Making exceptions. Do you ever find yourself “breaking” the rules? Good leaders will follow the rules to set a good example for their teams, whereas other leaders will tiptoe around rules or bend them to fit their own needs. They may think it’s no big deal, but it’s likely reps DO notice. This also applies to allowing certain team members to follow the rules at their own discretion. Making exceptions to office and company rules for yourself, or select team members, will only create resentment and disrespect among your team.
  • Demanding unquestioning obedience to authority. If you toss around the “because I’m the boss” reasoning to your reps and never allow them to question decisions or actions, you may be guilty of this psychological tactic. “It is the harder path—but the path of the good leader—to allow followers to question their authority when warranted,” Riggio explains.
  • Promoting an in-​group/​out-​group bias. Have you ever pitted your team against others with the “them” vs. “us” mentality? If you try to create cohesion this way, it will only backfire in the end. While you may gain short-​term loyalty and commitment, your team may experience long-​term costs, especially if there comes a time when you need to work with the “other” group in the future. Plus, cultivating this type of bias only brings out the worst in people.

Even if you are unwittingly making one (or all!) of these mistakes, it’s time to clean up your act for the sake of your sales team. Yes, you are in charge of helping them make their sales goals and bringing in business for the company, but you are also responsible for their mental and social well-​being — both of which impact their performance. If you start employing any of these tactics, you risk ruining team morale and negatively impacting team sales.