29 November 2023 |

is more really better?

By Gabrielle "GB" Blackwell

Out With The Old

According to McKinsey, there are 5 outdated assumptions that need to GTFO:

  1. Employees advance only by being promoted out of their current roles
  2. People who stay in middle management for a long time must be bad at their jobs
  3. Outstanding individual contributors should be rewarded with people management roles
  4. The importance of people’s jobs is measured by how many direct reports they manage
  5. The more senior the role, the more the person in it should be paid and rewarded

While I have some pretty strong opinions on all five outdated assumptions, there is ONE in particular that I wish people talked about more…

More direct reports 🟰 more importance

This is the one assumption that grinds my gears the most! Grrr…

I can recall so many times where I was interviewing for a manager role and got asked, “what’s the biggest team size you’ve ever managed?”. 

I used to cringe since the most reps I had managed at any given time was 6 and I felt like it was a knock against me for not having experience managing bigger teams.

That cringe went away REAL QUICK once I found myself managing 10+ reps on two separate occasions in my management career. 

More often than not, reps never felt like they had enough access to coaching, feedback and relationship building time…I’d always felt behind…and then before I knew it, I was batting away the flames of burnout!

IMO, there really isn’t enough time in the day for one manager to effectively lead and manage a team of more than 6-8 sales reps. 

The question then becomes, how do you make the case to put a cap on your team size?

#1: Take inventory of where you spend your time

Calendar management isn’t just for individual contributors. It’s for manager’s too. Take log of all the activities you’re currently doing. Be sure to factor in all of the “off the calendar” / async work you do, i.e. answering slack messages, hopping on impromptu calls with reps, etc.

#2: Connect the dots between rep development time and rep productivity

In previous newsletters, I’ve talked about the importance of tracking your rep development conversations. This isn’t just for covering you a**, it’s also for building up the business case to protect your time. If you’re able to illustrate that spending ‘X’ amount of time coaching will lead to ‘Y’ increase in rep productivity, you now have a strong data point to fall back on if you’re asked to do more.

🏀Assist: The Rep Development Playbook will be your best friend in getting started on this!

#3: Say ‘No’

I said it last week, and I’ll say it again, saying ‘no’ is so powerful! 

I get it – you want to support your reps and give them the extra time and you want to appease your boss by being super dependable. 

But, you can only help others and be dependable when you manage people’s expectations around what you can and cannot do.

If you’re in a situation where any additional person on your team would start to compromise your productivity, well being, and efficacy, it’s better to say “no”. 

🏀Assist: An even better way to say “no” is to say “no, and..”. Maybe you don’t have the capacity to bring another person onto your team yet, but you might know a way to generate whatever results that additional headcount would cover. This is a great opportunity to flex your problem solving skills by offering up another solution to a problem.

Wrapping up

You might not always have the ability to push back on how many reps you’ll be managing, and know that more does not always mean better!

If you can find a way to keep a healthy number of reps on your team, where healthy means you have the time to coach, develop and build meaningful relationships with your reps while also thriving at work, it’s worth making the effort to make it happen! 

Visual of the Week

Spotify Wrapped is OUT!! Here’s what I got back for Top Artists and Songs.

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