You have seen the kind – high energy, always wired, heavily networked sales person, who exceeds their personal sales goals quarter after quarter. You decide to promote them to be a sales leader. And then some months later you wonder if you made a mistake?
How do you identify the sales maverick with the golden touch?
The high performer rain makers or the sales mavericks have earned their spurs by being in the organization for a long time, they address most of their clients by their ﬁrst name and think they are indispensable given the clients’ dependency on them.
When they talk to their team they interrupt more than they listen and instruct more than they coach. They could even be addressing their subordinates in a condescending way just to show that they know it all. They could be non-inclusive especially with newer members of the team.
Their condescending self comes to the fore in team meetings when they belittle peers in front of their direct reports.
So what could be the implications of this behavior?
The ﬂip side is that there is high attrition in the teams, the ones who chose to stay are submissive enough or have stopped thinking for themselves. The peers who are equally capable and much more suited for the ‘people manager’ role feel sidelined. The interactions with the ‘maverick with the golden touch’ can leave the team feeling demotivated and overwhelmed.
Team members are reluctant to share feedback even in anonymous 360 surveys fearing a witch hunt.
If you are the maverick’s reporting manager or the HR manager, what can you do in such a situation?
An onsite coach could help – one who sits through the one on one and team meetings as well as trainings that the maverick conducts for their sales team to point out the areas for improvement. There is a much higher chance of the maverick accepting their behavioral ﬂaws if constructive feedback is provided in real time.
This intervention could be repeated over the next few months to check for improvement and a longer term change in behavior.
Personal coaching time with the maverick could also throw up the insecurities which are causing these behaviors. This happens when the maverick lets their guard down post some trust building with the coach.
What are the possible remedial organisational measures one could look at?
Move the maverick out of their comfort zones to newer geographies and clients which could be a better utilization of their experience and strengths.
They could also be convinced to get familiarity with another function besides sales, if they are to reach greater heights in their career. Associating with that function on a project with deﬁned timelines could be looked at as part of their career path.
Help them create a glide path for their career. Most of the mavericks live in the moment and get their adrenaline rush from new wins and deals. They seldom realize that after a few years, the organization would not grow them, if they continue on this path.
Why would you need an external coach to come in for this intervention when the maverick’s existing manager could just as well monitor and provide the feedback?
The truth is in quite a few cases, the maverick is just mirroring the style of their reporting manager and hence the manager would not notice anything unusual in their observation of the maverick.
The role of the manager and the coach have to be separate from each other. They have to act in parallel to get results, as only coaching may not help without reinforcement of appropriate behavior in the workplace.
Typically mavericks defend their behavior by bringing home the bacon for the company. But what they fail to realize enough is that it is not possible without the support of the other functions.
More importantly – it does not give them the license to lose their humility and steam-roll others along the way.
What are some other things coaching can help the maverick with?
– Make them realize their co-dependency on others in the team to foster collaboration.
– Focus on internal networking as well to enable them to go up the corporate ladder.
– Finally, help them realize that being a lone ranger will not give them fulﬁlment as they grow in the organization.
So, do you have any mavericks in your sales team? What are you planning to do about them? I would be interested to hear from you.