Are You Guilty of “Drive-by Management?”

After we had been coaching together for a few months, Ted (a managing director in the insurance business) told me:

“Before working together, I was guilty of drive-by management.”

Ted, like so many managers, would do his rounds in the morning. He would pop his head in the door and ask: “How are you? Anything I can help with?” That was the most proactive that the development of his people got.

If that is the way you develop your people, you are only ever discussing surface-level issues! You are not digging deep into the issues that are going to take them to the next level. The people that we lead need us to proactively look for ways to help them grow. They need us to investigate their activity. Our team members need us to dig in with questions. They need us to role-play conversations and techniques with them. Our salespeople need us to challenge them by giving them a goal or a focus. They need us to manage the systems of our businesses and lead them.

I asked another leader, Tom: “When do you meet with your people?”

He gave the common reply, “I meet with them when there is an issue.”

If you only meet with your team members when there is an issue, or if you just meet with them irregularly, then your people start to associate meeting with you with something being wrong. They think: “Tom is always really busy. He wants to meet with me. Did I screw something up? What did I do? Am I not doing well? I wonder what’s up.”

Sometimes sales managers that I coach will tell me that they do proactively meet with their team members. But when I ask how long those one-on-ones are scheduled for, they will usually tell me that they last 20 or 30 minutes. Again, if this is the length that your one-on-ones last, then there probably is not a lot of depth to that conversation. Maybe you are checking in on their pipeline status or answering a couple of questions, but I doubt that you are really digging in. It’s not the level that is going to challenge your team member’s behavior, equip them with a greater level of skill, or give them a real paradigm shift.

Your team members need you to meet with them regularly for a long enough period of time to dig in with that person. To work on areas that will help that person move their business forward. If I asked your team member when they meet with you, they should be able to respond, “I meet with Kathy every other Tuesday at 10.” In other words, they should be able to give me a specific time. If you meet with your team members regularly, then instead of thinking: “Oh, no. Kathy wants to meet with me. I must have done something wrong,” they think, “Kathy is really busy, but she makes time for me. She must really care.”

We call this a proactively planned, regularly scheduled one-on-one, otherwise known as a Personal Conference, or PC for short.

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