I felt hostage to my sales team. 

As a sales manager, I always wanted to create a winning culture in my team. I wanted them to be happy, motivated, and successful. I wanted them to enjoy their work and their life. I wanted them to be the best in the business.

But somewhere along the way, I realized that I was doing it all wrong. I was giving them too much and expecting too little. I was letting them dictate the terms and conditions of their work. I was compromising my standards and values. I was losing control and respect.

I felt hostage to my sales team.

The problem with giving too much

I thought that by giving my team everything they wanted, I was being a good leader. I thought that by being flexible, generous, and accommodating, I was building trust and loyalty. I thought that by empowering them to make their own decisions, I was fostering creativity and innovation.

But I was wrong.

Instead of making them happy, I was making them complacent. Instead of making them motivated, I was making them entitled. Instead of making them successful, I was making them mediocre.

They started to take advantage of my kindness and generosity. They started to abuse the unlimited PTO, the expensive tools, and the freedom to choose their own schedule and goals. They started to slack off, miss deadlines, and underperform.

They stopped caring about the results, the customers, and the company. They stopped listening to my feedback, my coaching, and my direction. They stopped respecting me, my authority, and my role.

They started to hold me hostage.

The solution to taking back control

I realized that I had to make a change. I realized that I had to take back control of my team. I realized that I had to set clear expectations, enforce accountability, and reward performance.

I decided to implement some changes in my team. I decided to:

  • Reduce the unlimited PTO to a reasonable amount and require approval for any time off.
  • Review the tools and resources that they were using and eliminate any unnecessary or wasteful ones.
  • Establish a regular schedule and routine for the team and monitor their attendance and productivity.
  • Set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals for each team member and track their progress and results.
  • Provide constructive feedback, coaching, and training to help them improve their skills and performance.
  • Recognize and reward the top performers and coach or terminate the low performers.

I expected some resistance and backlash from my team. I expected some complaints and grievances. I expected some turnover and attrition.

But I was surprised by the positive outcomes.

The benefits of taking back control

By taking back control of my team, I was able to:

  • Increase the team’s performance and productivity. They started to work harder, smarter, and faster. They started to meet and exceed their quotas and targets. They started to generate more revenue and profit for the company.
  • Improve the team’s engagement and satisfaction. They started to appreciate the structure, guidance, and support that I provided. They started to value the feedback, coaching, and training that I offered. They started to enjoy the recognition, rewards, and incentives that I gave.
  • Enhance the team’s culture and morale. They started to respect me, my authority, and my role. They started to trust me, my decisions, and my direction. They started to collaborate with me, each other, and the rest of the company.

They started to love me, their work, and their life.

They started to win.

The lesson learned from taking back control

As a sales manager, I learned a valuable lesson from taking back control of my team. I learned that:

  • Giving too much is not always good. It can lead to complacency, entitlement, and mediocrity.
  • Taking back control is not always bad. It can lead to performance, engagement, and satisfaction.
  • Finding the right balance is the key. It can lead to culture, morale, and winning.

I learned that I was not a hostage to my sales team. I was their leader. And I had to act like one.


Shane Shown

The entrepreneurial spirit burns brightly in Shane Shown, whose business journey began as a young child creating and selling Pokemon Bookmarks. His ambition and tenacity have propelled him to work with major international companies including Facebook, The Climate Corporation, Zillow, and College Works. In 2017 he launched Nxt Level Recruiting which specializes in high-level head hunting for the Technology and Video Game sectors with highly customized recruitment services. The year 2020 saw a successful move into Nashville for the company. 2023 brought the launch of three new divisions, Nxt Attorney, Nxt Level Civil Engineering, and Nxt Level HealthTech. Outside of the office, he serves as Co-City Leader for Founders Live: an international pitch competition empowering entrepreneurs around the world with funding opportunities.

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