You know what’s annoying?
Change. Change is what’s annoying.
I haven’t looked at the research, but it might even be at a biological level. People hate, fear, avoid, ignore — in short, do everything in their power to not have change. Even people who claim to like change don’t really; they’ve just gotten more acclimated to it than others. Now, normally, when we talk about change, we’re talking about big things — corporate structure, job roles, responsibilities, locations, etc…. But little change is annoying too, and precisely because it’s little, it can be subversive.
As the sales manager, one of the biggest things you can personally do to keep your team performing optimally is to provide a cadence and consistency There are two parts to this.
First, really, really be consistent. When you have a message, stick to it, and repeat it. Repeat it ad nauseam. Repeat it until you’re sick of it yourself, and then keep repeating it. As Jack Welch said, “In leadership, you’ve got to repeat [every statement you make] a thousand times.” But it can’t be a “do what I say, not what I do” kind of thing. If you’re giving the team a message, you not only need to repeat it, you need to live up to it. The actions must be just as consistent as the words.
Second, stop interrupting your team. If you need status reports, schedule them. If you’re calling your team in the middle of the weak to ask them something, you’re interrupting whatever they’re doing. And these little interrupts are the subversive ones I mentioned above. Of course, if you need information, you need it. But every time you do something that interrupts the routine of your team, even if it’s a 5 minute call, it has a negative impact. What if you call while the rep is in the middle of writing a proposal? That little distraction may only take 5 minutes, but it may take him 15 minutes to get back into the right frame of mind to finish the proposal. Or worse, maybe he never gets back in the right frame of mind, and the proposal just isn’t as good as it could have been. If that sort of thing happens enough, the rep may not even notice it, but it will wear. It will add up to “change” in the very negative sense.
So, bottom line: be credible, repeat, don’t interrupt. People hate change.