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Whatever your results for 2015, it’s time to face the new year with an eye on improved performance. As a sales manager or sales leader, it is incumbent on you to set the standards for performance, take action and provide a disciplined performance management process to your team.

Good, solid performance management begins with establishing specific objectives to increase two-way communication between managers and sales associates.

Use that communication to clarify mission, goals, responsibilities, priorities and expectations for each position on the team.

Recognize that the team will need some help from you to accomplish these expectations. Be accessible and prepared to provide effective orientation, learning and professional development materials and opportunities. As the leader, it is your responsibility to provide on-going coaching and feedback, throughout the year, not just at performance evaluation time. That includes identifying and resolving performance issues, as well as, recognizing quality performance. If managed and measured properly, good performance management provides leadership with the basis for decisions such as promotions, succession and strategic planning, terminations and pay for performance objectivity.

Four key leadership actions required for effective performance management are:

1. Performance Planning

Performance planning begins at the start of each sales year. Manager and associate should:

  • Review and clarify expected outcomes

  • Set performance objectives and metrics

  • Set learning and development goals

  • Establish resources needed to meet objectives and goals

  • Identify supports and barriers to achieving goals

  • Discuss positive consequences of meeting or exceeding expectations, as well as negative consequences for non-performance

Manager should document each sales associate's performance plan.

2. Performance Coaching

Coaching and development discussions should occur on a regular basis throughout the year. Coaching discussions are recommended on a monthly basis or more frequently if possible/necessary.

Managers and associates should:

  • Discuss results to date

  • Review and refine objectives

  • Remove barriers to goal achievement

  • Review and possibly revise developmental goals in support of reaching performance objectives

Managers must complete a mid-cycle review for each sales associate at some point during Q3 of the sales year.

3. Performance Evaluation

Annual performance evaluation covers the annual sales period and is completed within 30 days of year-end.

Managers and associates meet to discuss past year’s performance, lay groundwork for next year’s cycle (identify objectives and suggest development opportunities) and determine final ratings. Manager and associate must both sign the SOP document with final rating and comments included.

4. Performance Outcomes

  • Rewards and recognition for achievements

  • Promotions and succession planning

  • Accountability and consequences for non-achievements

This “no surprises” approach to managing performance is a proven methodology to drive performance and guide sales leaders to overall talent development. Effective talent development can help organizations drive performance and outperform the competition. Butler Street’s TalentFirst A.R.D.® provides the tools and the actionable insights required for leaders to acquire, retain and develop their people. Performance Management is just one tool that will change your 2016 results. Contact us to begin a dialogue.

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