Sometimes a manager wants so much for their direct reports to be happy, successful and satisfied that they actually want more for their people than their people want or are ready for themselves.
While coaching is about stretching and challenging someone to attain more than they would be able to on their own, sometimes what they can achieve, what they want to achieve, and what is in their best interest are in conflict with each other.
Therefore, when coaching people, it’s not always about what is possible, realistic, or attainable. Instead, it becomes more about honoring each individual’s personal goals, values and priorities.
Managers need to be mindful about what their employees want, what they need, and how their personal and professional goals align, while honoring their business objectives, quota and expectations that need to be met at work.
Subsequently, this shapes the focus of your coaching and helps define the right priorities and topics to address. If pushed too hard, you might find yourself pushing a solid B player to the point they quit. And if they don’t quit, how do you think this affects the level of trust they have in you? Now, this person feels that all you do is push your own goals and agenda on them without honoring what they want most!
Sure, you can look at some of the talent on your team and say, “If only they worked a little harder, put more time into developing themselves and their skillset and focused on increasing their sales activity, they could make more money and be an A player!”
But, what if the person doesn’t want to be an A player? What if they’re happy just being a B player? What if they don’t want to make more money? What if they don’t want to work harder because they value their life balance, personal hobbies and the time they have with their family more than the additional money they can make? Or, what if there are other personal situations that limit their ability to make a fuller commitment, regardless of whether they want to or not? (A sick family member they care for, a single parent balancing all responsibilities, other non-negotiable personal commitments, and so on.)
Sure, they may not be setting the world on fire and blowing out their sales targets but they are still a solid, non-toxic, positive contributor and good corporate citizen. And while every manager wants to develop a team of A players, every team needs and can afford to have some B performers who still consistently contribute to your bottom line and sales targets.
After all, if you were an athlete competing in the Olympics and you walk away with a silver or bronze medal, aren’t you still considered a champion?
While it’s the responsibility of the leader to support, coach and develop their people to live their fullest potential, you also need to respectful and mindful of their core values, priorities and what is most important to them, regardless of their potential or what you may think they are capable of.
Keep in mind, there’s never room at the winner’s table for the C players, since no manager can afford to have these underperformers on their team. When it comes to these underperformers, managers are responsible for coaching these salespeople to at least the B player status. Otherwise, that’s when you have to make the more difficult decision around whether or not they are a good fit for your team, another team or position or the company.
The real measurement of value derived from the coaching relationship is determined by the person you are coaching and how they define value, rather than how you define it. While this might sound counterintuitive, you need to surrender your attachment to pushing this type of person to realize their fullest potential and respect their goals.
When you do so, you may be surprised that at some point, your B player may decide, due to a change in their life or priorities, that they are ready and willing to make more money or even become a top performer! After all, certain major life changes, such as getting married, having children, purchasing a new home or other life or career changing events can shift this person’s focus and priorities to the point where they are ready to advance to their next level of success. This alone supports the case for managers needing to continually and effectively coach their people to ensure you’re aware of any of these changes in order to quickly shift the focus of their coaching so it’s now aligned with their new set of priorities.
So, coach them to be the best they can be, while respecting their boundaries and values. Now, instead of pushing them too hard, you are aligning company objectives with their personal goals. And the real win here is, you have achieved something that many managers struggle with developing and maintaining that’s critical to building a bench-strong team of champions. That is, trust.