How to Maximize Your Team's Performance

Key Takeaways

  • Spend more time with your top performers
  • Free up more resources in supporting their efforts
  • Focus on performance as a whole

As early-stage companies transition from development to full-scale commercialization, many mission-critical items for success are found in the scaling of the business and driving the all-important revenue curve.

While no one will argue the importance of getting this equation right and securing the necessary sales, there are multiple approaches companies follow in this process. There is also much disagreement as to which approach will consistently deliver the greatest return on investment.

As we take a look at the truisms involved, our discussion will focus mainly on the sales administration aspects of the business. It is important to note, however, that the following statements hold true to all of the various aspects of the business and not just the sales element.

One of the most common preconceptions is that for any sales team to deliver a peak performance and maximize the return on investment, all members of the team should at the very least be at or above the assigned quota. In following this line of thinking, most sales managers will spend their time with the underperforming members of the team in the thought that this is where they are most needed.

Here is one scenario: A regional sales team is comprised of 10 sales people. Most research indicates that the optimum number of people a sales manager can effectively manage tends to be somewhere between eight and twelve, so no issue there.

Furthermore, of these 10 sales people:

  • Three are at or above 120 percent of quota
  • Four are between 100-120 percent
  • Three are between 90 – 99 percent
  • Let’s further assume the total performance as a team is at 107 percent

This begs the question: Who does the manager devote the majority of  the time and resources to?

By and large, the vast majority of sales managers will spend much of their time with the three people currently between 90 – 99 percent of objective. The rationale is that while the team as a whole is performing well, these three members are standing out as being below the minimum standards set.

As the manager, I must get them above the 100 percent mark, thus providing a much better image for the team as a whole.  However, while this is overwhelmingly the path most often taken, I would suggest it is not the best or most expedient way to maximize the overall performance of the team.

Let’s look at this scenario from a slightly different perspective.

If the company follows this approach, they are devoting a higher percentage of the limited resources of time and money to the poorest-performing members of the team.  This is done at the expense of the highest-performing members of the team.  If the manager is spending one of the most valuable resources of their time and expertise with the poorest performing members, they are by direct extension depriving their highest-performing members of these most valuable of resources.  

There is often a common trait among managers who truly maximize the performance of the team as a whole and deliver award-winning performances year in and year out. These best-in-class managers tend to spend the majority of their resources, not only in dollars and cents, but also in their time and expertise working with their top and above-average performers.

In the scenario above, most elite managers will spend a higher percentage of their time with the three people at the top, followed by a slightly lower percentage with the four in the middle and actually the least amount of their time and resources with the people at the bottom. 

While this may seem counterintuitive to many people, investing your resources in your top and stronger performers tends to deliver a much higher return on investment then expending them on the weaker performers.

While all people on the team must be given the necessary amount of training and basic support, it is incumbent on each individual to use the training and apply it to the marketplace in delivering the necessary results.  

Regardless of what area of the business you manage, getting the most out of the top performers will take your team the farthest. Those at the bottom will often raise their level of performance to be part of the winning team, and some will self-select out and move on. Either action is actually in the best interest of the team at large.

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Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.