David Jacoby

By: David Jacoby on December 27th, 2022

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How to Manage Your Bad Sales Manager and Reduce Employee Turnover

Building Relationships | Managing Performance

According to LinkedIn research, the turnover rate for salespeople increased up to 25% compared to the 2019 pre-COVID rate. Low unemployment rates are a key driver of this increased turnover, giving experienced salespeople more employment options.

While many salespeople leave their current jobs for more lucrative opportunities, a persistent reason for turnover usually points squarely back at the sales manager. There is great truth to the saying that employees leave managers, not companies. Bad managers can lower employee engagement and hurt the long-term retention of great salespeople.

If you have a bad manager and are getting frustrated, don’t jump ship yet. Instead, try to manage your manager. To reduce employee turnover, here are three common bad manager traits and ways you can improve the situation.

#1: Micromanager 

Everyone hates the micromanaging boss; it’s one of the most common management problems in the workplace. This is the manager that is constantly checking in or looking over your shoulder. They tell you exactly how to do something and don’t give you enough autonomy or authority.

 There are a few reasons why a sales manager might micromanage their employees. Some managers may micromanage because they want to have a high level of control over their team and the work they are doing. Other sales managers might micromanage because they don't trust their employees to do the job correctly, or because they want to make sure that things are done exactly the way they want them to be done. Another common reason some managers might micromanage is that they are insecure in their ability to manage, or because they are under pressure to produce results.

 If you have a boss who is a micromanager, there are a few things you can do to try to improve the situation. First, try to communicate openly with your boss about their management style and how it affects you and your productivity. Let them know that you value their guidance and input, but that you also need the freedom to do your job without constant supervision. It can also help to suggest alternative ways of working or to offer to provide regular updates so that your sales manager can see that you are on track without needing to micromanage.  

#2: Absentee Manager 

Another factor that may impact employee turnover is a sales manager who is too hands-off. An absentee manager is a manager who is not present or involved in the day-to-day management of their team. This can mean that the manager is physically absent from the workplace, a common occurrence in today’s hybrid workplace, or it can mean that they are present but not actively involved in managing their team.

Having an absent manager can be a frustrating and alienating experience. Absentee managers often delegate their authority and responsibilities to other team members and may not be available to provide guidance, feedback, or support. This management style can be problematic because it leads to a lack of direction and accountability and hinders the team's ability to function effectively.

In many cases, this type of manager might not be interested in being a leader. For example, think of the case of a sales manager who was promoted from the field but whose heart is still in being a star salesperson. They may be more focused on working on big, exciting deals, which means you and your co-workers become an afterthought.

If you have an absentee manager, try to communicate honestly with your manager about their management style and how it affects you and your productivity. Tell them that you value their guidance and support and that you would like to have a more active and involved manager. It is also helpful to suggest ways that your sales manager can be more involved in your work and development, such as by providing regular updates or ongoing sales coaching and feedback. If you don’t already have a weekly one-on-one scheduled, ask your manager to block out time on their calendar.

#3: Impulsive Manager   

Does your sales manager constantly change priorities, goals, and sales strategies based on a new impulse or idea? Are they always chasing a new shiny new object? If so, chances are you are working for an impulsive manager, and your sales team's turnover is being impacted as a result.

An impulsive manager is a manager who tends to make decisions without carefully considering the potential consequences. They may act on their instincts without taking the time to gather all of the necessary information or consult with others. This can lead to rash decisions that may not be in the team’s best interests. Impulsive managers may also be prone to making sudden, unpredictable changes to plans or strategies, which can be disruptive and challenging for their team to handle.

Dealing with an impulsive manager can be challenging, but you can try a few things to help manage the situation. First, let them know how their impulsiveness impacts you and the team, and try to devise solutions together. This could involve setting boundaries, such as agreeing only to make decisions after a certain amount of time to allow for more thoughtful consideration, sticking to the agreed-upon sales plan or strategy, and revisiting priorities only monthly or quarterly.

It is also helpful to understand where your sales manager's impulsiveness is coming from. They may be under a lot of pressure to make decisions quickly or have a natural tendency towards impulsivity. Try to be empathetic and offer support while setting clear boundaries to protect yourself and the team

Manage Your Manager 

If you’re unhappy with your boss, remember that managing a sales team is an incredibly challenging job. Many sales managers are so focused on their multiple responsibilities that they are not even aware that they are micromanagers, absentee managers, or impulsive. Before taking drastic action such as changing jobs, try to improve your situation by managing your manager. While managing up may sound challenging, it’s about improving the relationship with ongoing dialogue, mutual respect, and understanding.

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About David Jacoby

As a Managing Director at Sales Readiness Group, David helps large B2B sales organizations improve sales performance. Previously, David was a Principal at Linear Partners, a sales consulting firm providing sales strategy, sales operations, talent management, and interim management services to emerging growth companies. In the past, David has served as Vice President of Business Affairs of Xylo, Inc., where he was responsible for the Company's business development, sales operations, legal affairs, and financing activities.