This week we spoke with Anita Bruzzese, author of 45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy and contributor to The Fast Track and USA Today. From her experience speaking with managers, she offered three critical insights for running a field team of successful and engaged reps. Check them out below:
1. Seek Out the Right Employees
Bruzzese said before field team managers look into best practices for running a team, they first must have the right kind of team. For a field rep working remotely, she said they must have three key characteristics: thrives of flexibility, self-regulating, and an excellent communicator. In order to seek out this type of personality, Bruzzese said it is important that in an interview the person can demonstrate that they can handle the stress of a remote job. She said they must “know what trips [their] stress but what relaxes [them]” as well. Many sales reps have a handle on what stresses them, but Bruzzese’s point about understanding relaxation strategies is echoed in many articles, including one by business expert Meridith Elliott Powell. The themes of adaptability and independence are also explored in a Business News Daily article along with other traits for managers to look out for such as positivity and persuasiveness.
2. Don’t Email Discipline
When it becomes necessary to discipline an employee or offer feedback Bruzzese says “nothing beats the human voice.” Despite continuous advice against doing so, many managers still send disciplinary emails. Sending off an email may seem less confrontational to the manager, but it often leaves the recipient feeling attacked. This article even says “an email sent is a like a bullet fired at a target.” According to Bruzzese “nobody [writes] those kind of emails well, and nobody likes getting them.” This is especially important for managers of field teams. It may be tempting to send feedback through email or text because that is the team’s main mode of communication, but it is critical that managers take the time to bring the rep into the office. Managers in the position of offering negative feedback need to do so not only face-to-face, but with an emphasis on improvements and future action. That way, the conversation can be more about making the reps’ job more efficient and improving the overall team rather than it feeling like a personal attack.
3. Instill Confidence
A common worry among field team managers is employee engagement. It can become difficult to gauge how involved your reps are when they work away from a central office location. According to Bruzzese, “you have to give your people the confidence that you have confidence in them,” to achieve engagement. Field reps want chances to use their personal skills at the highest level and they are unable to do that if the team has a culture of micromanagement. Bruzzese said “a lot of managers get to where they feel they have such an investment in something...that they can’t let it go.” For field teams, this type of heavily involved management can be a burden, because not only do reps have to constantly check in with managers, they must do so between traveling and client visits. Bruzzese says letting reps solve their problems independently may mean “[letting] them make some mistakes” at first. Yet, allowing this type of work will make them feel valued and managers can always send quick feedback to fix those small bumps in the road.
Erin P. Friar
Erin Friar is a Content Marketing Journalist Intern at Repsly, Inc. and is completing a Journalism degree at Suffolk University. She is a master of grammar and is passionate about creating fresh content to help foster efficiency and overall success in small businesses.