22 Toxic Ways We Set Our People Up to Fail

Become a better sales coach and sales manager today.

The growth and success of your team begins with you, and more specifically, the perception you have of each individual on your team—who you think they are and who you need them to be.

Stop Branding Your People – Part 2 (Excerpt from Keith’s upcoming book, Coachquest.)

In Part 1 of this series, Stop Branding Your People, I shared a story about my experience when I was in Santiago, Chile, delivering my sales leadership coaching program to a team of seasoned sales managers. They had all jumped on the bandwagon of despair, as to why some of their people just aren’t coachable and more successful in their role. I coached them to recognize the danger of their assumptions and the cost that ensues.

Just like the assumptions that salespeople make about their prospects and customers can prevent them from closing more sales, the assumptions that managers make about their people, often based upon their prior experiences with them, blind them from recognizing and creating powerful, authentic coaching moments. This prevents them from truly developing their people, making them more valuable, and fostering healthier, more rewarding relationships.

Here are 22 examples where managers have created self-imposed limitations on the health and growth of their team by mis-branding people.

Now, you may initially think that branding someone in a positive way is a good thing. After all, people want to create a positive personal brand and a legacy they are proud of and as such, often go to their manager or their own coach for assistance in doing so.

However, are you coaching, communicating to, and supporting your people based on the facts? Do they actually have the skills, drive, confidence, and attitude to achieve more in their role, or are there certain assumptions you’ve made about them and their abilities, solely based upon your prior experiences with them and consequently, react to them accordingly?

Here is your opportunity to expand your peripheral vision and become more mindful around how assumptions and branding people a certain way can limit the positive impact you can make on others, preventing you from leading and coaching people to achieve unprecedented, breakthrough results.

As you read through these, you will see that I could not fabricate these examples even if I tried! These are real world situations that I’ve observed. So, take a moment and reflect upon each one to see what would be possible if these negative brands were challenged by taking a different approach when interacting and communicating with those around you. It all starts with you.

22 Toxic Ways We Set Our People Up to Fail

  1. Megan is always playing the victim. It’s never her fault.
  2. My boss is uncoachable and is not open to feedback. He is so ‘old school,’ so I just tell him what he wants to hear. Besides, I want to keep my job!
  3. Sandra is the whiner.
  4. We’re dealing with a legacy senior leadership team. They will never change or see the value in what we’re trying to do in the field and with our teams, so we just have to continually come up with ways to work around them to get what we need done.
  5. There are silos in our organization that cannot be broken down because the other departments just don’t get what we’re trying to accomplish here!
  6. Jose is not a team player.
  7. You try telling the CEO to change and what to do! Let me know how that goes.
  8. The silos in our organization make it difficult to get anything done and John is really the only one equipped to work well cross-functionally with other teams.
  9. Lucas is overly sensitive and does not take constructive criticism well.
  10. Ahmed is never going to use the CRM the way we need him to. So, let’s find another way to work around this. Can we afford to hire an assistant for him so this gets done?
  11. Maria is difficult to talk to and always seems as if she’s on the defensive or someone is out to get her.
  12. Eleri is always late and is terrible with time management.
  13. Frank is abrasive and I’ve heard this from a variety of sources. He will also stab you in the back and steal your clients. So, I’m just warning you now.
  14. Why would I even question Brian’s performance when he’s hitting his sales goals each quarter? The numbers are there.
  15. HR is only good for dealing with compliance issues or if I have to make sure I’m following the legal procedures and protocol needed when it comes to terminating someone. That’s the only time I need to get HR involved.
  16. Stephanie has been selling successfully for thirty years. Let her follow her way of doing things and we will just have to train all the new hires on our company’s sales process.
  17. Marketing doesn’t understand what a qualified lead actually is. They don’t understand the role that my salespeople are in and I’m not 100% confident of the value of these leads and the opportunities they send us.
  18. Patrick will never hit his number. He just doesn’t have what it takes and I already know he’s not coachable.
  19. I already know how Angelina is going to react if I bring this up. She is going to freak out and I don’t feel like dealing with that right now.
  20. The sales engineers have no idea how to sell and what it takes to bring in a closed deal. All they keep pushing for is more data and information about the project and specifications. Let me just do what I do best as a salesperson and sell. We can worry about that stuff afterwards.
  21. Hector is amazing at managing the projects with his team. I never have to worry about him. That’s why I just leave him alone and stay out of his way.
  22. Matias is from (fill in country), so you know he’s going to react poorly if you ask him to work better with the account managers and get them more involved up front during any client meetings or proposals that we need to deliver to certain prospects.

Once you brand people, think deeper regarding how this impacts you, as well as the person you branded? How do your assumptions about people change the way you interact with them? How does this affect their personal brand within your company? What does this do to their reputation? What message are you sending about this person to others who don’t know them and may one day, have to work with them in some capacity?

Are You Getting Paid to Brand People?

Here’s another point to consider. When branding people, what are you getting from doing so? Is there some payoff for you? Remember, as human beings, we will tap into any available energy source, even if it does cause suffering or difficulties.

Do some of the assumptions you make about others help justify your own actions, behavior, decisions, and results? Do they give you the out, the right to complain, or the ability to justify your reasoning as to why you cannot take action to better the situation or relationship?

You Cannot Change What You Do Not See

The greater cost is, notice that with each of these assumptive statements, consider that important business decisions are then made based on the assumptions you believe to be true, rather than focusing on creating a new possibility or brand for others. The fact is, no manager can truly look in the mirror and say they’ve tried everything because just like these managers in Chile had a major blind spot, so do you. It often takes someone else, such as a coach, to help each person see what they cannot see on their own.

Before you give up on certain people, throw your hands in the air, and think you’ve truly tried everything, consider this as your defining moment, your crossroad and your choice to re-brand or re-invent your perception and relationship with each person in your company, and in your life. When you evolve by challenging your limiting thinking and choose to communicate in a more engaging, collaborative way, that’s when greater opportunities will present themselves.

Photo Credit: Vectors.1 (via Shutterstock)