The Opposite of Micromanaging

Each of my three daughters have said to me at one time, or another, “stop treating me like a kid.” Kids rarely like it, and unsurprisingly, adults never do. So, why do so many companies feel the need to hover over their sales staff like children? Sales professionals call it micromanaging while many sales leaders call it, “just doing their job.” And there lies the rub.

It’s not a manager’s job to impose his or her habits, and style on sales professionals, or try to create clones. The goal should be to help salespeople become the best version of themselves possible; to help them capitalize on their own strengths and work on their weaknesses. There’s not only a big difference in the two management styles, there’s also a wide gap in the results they yield.

Working with a group of around 20 sales professionals in Oklahoma, I proved that when you treat adults like, well, adults, the accompanying sales growth isn’t far behind. 

What does micromanagement look like?

Here’s just one example of micromanagement. A supervisor feels no one can do a better job than he can. So rather than delegating duties, he constantly steps in and takes the reins. This might be all right if it happened occasionally, but as a standard operating procedure, it’s stifling. Eventually, good people leave or stop taking initiative and the manager feels overwhelmed.

Clearly communicating expectations with your sales professionals and holding up your end of the deal are the cornerstones of success. Once you have the minimum requirements set, you must have a strategy in place to support any person not meeting those minimums. This is where things tend to set sideways. Too many leaders make their “coaching” about themselves. They are all too willing to impose their “proven methods,” specific metrics on which to focus, and my favorite, additional training.

What works for me?

When I’ve struggled with something, having someone come alongside to ask me questions, listen and offer feedback has proven most helpful. That’s what sales leaders should do. The problem is that it requires time and emotional energy, but smart managers know it’s well worth the investment. Connecting with someone struggling every day to really breakdown what’s working – and what’s not, is really the solution. It’s not another report about another metric that doesn’t tell even part of the story.

The other side of the coin is, what to do with the sales professionals that are not struggling? Same thing – learn what they are trying to accomplish, ask questions and offer feedback. Top producers need a sounding board as well, but they also need to be shielded from unnecessary reporting requirements. Don’t bog down producers with reporting they don’t like (or need), just let them produce.


Blaine Burn is the Chief Sales Officer at Beyond. If you’re self-motivated and appreciate macro, versus micromanagement, this could be the opportunity you’ve been looking for. Click here to learn more.