Five Surefire Ways You're Failing As A Manager

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Jun 20, 2024 by Sean Luce

How would you rate yourself as a manager? Have you ever received a handful of surveys that were not what you expected? An IBM general sales manager who thought that she could do no wrong received some surprising news. After reading the surveys like the one shown below, the manager called the sales reps into a room and asked for constructive feedback. The staff told her outright that she was favoring some sales reps over others. This feedback flabbergasted her. The sales manager sat with the group listening to the comments and realized that she was not the manager that she had assumed. 

Feedback-Action Survey

Please rate manager on a scale of 1 to 6

1 = strongly agree 2=agree 3=somewhat agree/disagree 4=disagree 5= strongly disagree 6= Do not know/Undecided

1. I feel free to tell my manager what I think.

2. My manager lets me know what is expected of me.

3. Favoritism is not a problem at KXXX.

4. My manager helps us find ways to do our jobs better.

5. My manager is willing to listen to my concerns.

6. My manager asks for my ideas about things affecting our work.

7. My manager lets me know when I've done a good job.

8. My manager treats me with respect and dignity.

9. My manager keeps me informed about things I need to know.

10. My manager lets me do my job without interfering.

11. My General Manager gives us the support we need.

12. My GM lets us know what the company is trying to accomplish.

13. My GM pays attention to ideas and suggestions from people at my level.

14. I have confidence in the fairness of our management team.

15. I feel that I can be secure in my job as long as I do good work.

16. I'm proud to work at KXXX.

17. Working at KXXX will probably lead to the kind of future I want.

18. I think KXXX does a good job for its customers.

19. All things considered, working for KXXX is a good deal for me.

20. I am paid fairly for the kind of work I do.

21. Our company benefit plans seem to meet most of my needs.

22. Most people in my department cooperate with each other to get the job done.

23. There is cooperation between my department and other departments at KXXX.

24. Rules and procedures do not interfere with how well I am able to do my job.

25. I am able to get the supplies and other resources I need to do my job.

26. I have enough freedom to do my job well. 

27. My department is involved in activities to improve service to KXXXs customers. 

Before handing out the survey, look over this list of five surefire warning signs that can help a manager be proactive with the sales department. Be open minded, and the results could mean avoiding the same consequence the IBM sales manager experienced: termination.

1) The Sales Reps are Late for Meetings: Being late is the first surefire sign that the staff has lost respect. There is no excuse for being tardy for a sales meeting and that includes the sales manager. If the reps are late for the sales meeting, they will be late for their appointments with customers, also. If the meeting is at 8:00 a.m., bolt the door. That loud knocking on the door will only happen once. Everybody should get one token. After that, there are no excuses for being late. 

2) The Sales Reps are Leaving the Company: Remember one quarter of good people leave organizations every year because of lack of rewards and recognition. Not everyone works strictly for money. If sales reps are leaving and the manager does not know the reason, have another manager conduct an exit interview. One manager worked at the same media company for 18 years. Three of the best sales reps resigned during a period of six months. The general manager wondered why this trend was occurring, so he contacted each rep. They each said, He berated us for years." He intimidated sales reps and verbally abused us." That manager was fired. He should have been let go sooner, and the three top sales reps would probably still be working for the same station.

3) The Sales Manager is Selling the Majority of the Time: This usually happens when sales goals are not being achieved. Managers think that they can do it themselves. The compulsion to do it versus hiring the correct salespeople often takes over. Exceptions can be made for small markets and staffs of less than five reps. Remember, the more a manager sells the more they compete with the salespeople.

4) Morale is Low: Poor morale most often originates with management. Look at the Feedback and Action Survey." Communicate and keep everyone in the loop as far as the direction of the company. Energy starts at the top. Perhaps the foremost management consultant in the world, Peter Drucker, says, A managers number one job responsibility is to control his or her own energy. Number two is to orchestrate the energy of those around them."

5) The Numbers: Numbers in most cases do not lie. The bottom line is the ultimate judge. If the reps are not hitting their budgets, maybe it is a soft economy, or maybe it is the manager. Statistics have shown that most managers in our industry pay less than three percent of their time thinking about the future. That is crazy! No wonder media sales are called a month-to-month business. As a sales manager or even a general manager, one of the biggest responsibilities is strategic planning. 

One of the best ways to find out how you are doing is to let your people grade you. Some of your best ideas can come from the people who are on the streets every day. Look at it objectively. Remember, communication is a two-way street and so are expectations!

Sean Luce is the Head International Instructor for the Luce Performance Group and can be reached at




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