Knowing your Shadows..

Ram had been asked to create a special 10 member sales team from existing employees to push the sales of their newly launched beauty products.

While he had already narrowed down on the team members, he was struggling to choose the right leader for the team. Ram had to be careful in finding the right balance of seniority, acceptance, and performance while selecting the leader. 

According to him three people were the strongest candidates for the job

  1. Shyam- A top salesperson who consistently exceeded his targets YOY since last four years; but had only seven years of overall experience. 
  2. Roy- A senior salesperson having more than 15 years of experience. Roy was well versed with internal & external factors within the organisation; but was an average performer in sales & reporting.
  3. Reema- An average performer with 10 years of experience but very well organised in her work. Reema was known to be good at MIS & reporting.

After lot of deliberation, Ram decided to reward performance over all other attributes and picked Shyam. By doing so, he wanted send the right message to the team and get people motivated to perform. 

However in the six months that followed everything took a nosedive. Sales touched new lows and four team members resigned from the organisation. Shyam decided to take ownership and too resigned from the company.

Ram wondered how things went wrong. He put his best sales person to lead the team & yet results completely opposite to the expectations.

Where did Ram go wrong?

The first mistake Ram committed was that he gave precedence to salesmanship over leadership. He must have looked for a person who possessed better managerial & leadership skills.

As a Manager, one has to be good at MIS/Reporting, driving the team but Ram overlooked this important parameter. Shyam was an excellent sales person but Ram never tried to find out whether he also possess people management and leadership skills.

Lastly Ram should have spoken to all team members explaining his reasoning for choosing a particular person as leader of the team. By doing this he would have ensured that new leader gets the support from everyone thereby leading to less power politics.

While it’s common practice to promote a person who is doing very well but at the same time one has to look for the attributes individual needed for him to succeed in the new role. A wrong promotion does more harm than good for the company as well as concerned individuals. In this case Ram’s organisation not only lost important time to establish their product in the market, but also lost good sales resources in the process.

Not everyone enjoys leading a team, they may be happy being an individual contributor & I don’t see anything wrong in it. The onus is on the leaders to choose the right fit & look beyond things that is not easily visible. 

Corporate life is more than it meets the eye