Everyday there are tens of thousands of sales leaders trying to manage a sales team that has lost respect for them—and many, possibly most, don’t even realize that they’ve lost control of their team.
Are you faced with any of these issues?
1. Team members are seldom on time and come and go as they please. Are your sellers straggling into the office and scheduled meetings because of a lax office atmosphere—or because they simply have no respect for you and your ability to control them?
2. Your interactions with team members are usually monologues. Are team members listening to you intently and respectfully and giving their opinion freely—or are they simply waiting for you to shut up so you’ll go away and they can go back to ignoring you?
3. Your team members try to talk over you. Are they excited and want to get their ideas out—or do they think you have nothing worth listening to and don’t respect your opinion?
4. Your requests are ignored or assignments are completed in a half-hearted fashion. Are they so busy with selling and taking care of their customers that they just didn’t have time to get to the assignment—or do they think the assignment was a joke not worth their time and effort, and besides, you’re not going to do anything about it anyway?
It’s easy for managers to ignore the above symptoms of disrespect. In fact, it is far easier and a lot more comfortable to ignore them than to address them.
But if you’re in a position where you have a team that does not respect you, either you or they are short timers. A manager—and the company they work for—cannot last long once they’ve lost the respect of their team.
But once the team’s respect has been lost, is it possible to regain it?
I’ve spoken to many management experts who have argued that once lost, respect is impossible to regain and the only solution is new management.
And for the most part I agree. However, I have seen several situations where management redemption did occur. In virtually every case, the manager took the following five steps:
- Personal acknowledgement. The manager recognized the loss of respect and committed themselves to aggressively addressing and correcting the issue.
- Confessing to the team. The manager confessed to each member of the team (either in a group meeting or during individual meetings with team members) that they had lost their commitment and had failed the team and have recommitted themselves to serving the team without reservation.
- Establishing new ground rules—and adhering to them. The manager sets out a new set of rules that govern both the team’s and the manager’s actions along with the consequences for breaking those rules. Discipline is not only needed, it must be demonstrated. Consequently, it is necessary that the team know what is expected from them and from the manager and that both have objective rules and guidelines that all parties are aware of and can measure one another by.
- Encourage discussion–and dissent. It is imperative that an open dialogue between the manager and the team members be created and it is the manager’s obligation to set the tone and get the ball rolling. If the manager can’t break through the ice and begin a real conversation with the team, no amount of confession and fair rules will do any good.
- Treat team members with respect. Very often the team begins losing respect for their manager not simply because they view the manager as weak, but because they feel that he or she isn’t treating them with respect. A manager cannot expect respect from the team if they aren’t showing the team members respect. Respect, more than any other aspect of relationships, is a two-way street. Part of earning respect is showing respect and the manager must begin the process by making sure the team members know they are respected.
The above five step process isn’t an overnight fix. In fact, regaining respect takes time—a lot of time, weeks and months worth of time.
Yes, once the team has lost respect for their manager the most expeditious solution is replacing the manger. But that isn’t the only solution. If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve lost your team’s respect—or if you have a manager that for whatever reason you cannot replace and they’ve lost their team’s respect, apply the steps above and you will, given time, repair the damage and once again have the team’s respect.