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Ask Pulse: Help! I’m a manager and my team members suck at their job

Ask Pulse is a weekly advice column and a listening ear to help you sort through your issues.

How can I make my associates better at their job

This week on Ask Pulse, we have a team leader wondering what exactly he can do to motivate his team to perform better.

I'm leading a team of nine at a fintech where we try to sell as many point-of-sale (POS) devices as possible, and I'm looking for ways to improve productivity. As the team’s manager, I know my effectiveness is tied to their success. While I've tried several strategies — open communication channels, individual check-ins, and even offering hands-on support, which sometimes entails doing their work for them — I haven't seen the desired results, and it makes me feel incompetent as their leader.

I have asked a few of them to sit close to the best salesperson so they can learn the ropes properly, but there isn’t much improvement. It just feels like you can't teach a person sales, you can only give them ideas, which I have tried several times too. I sometimes make sales myself and give to the least performers to motivate them, which I'm not supposed to do, but still no improvement.

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I'm reaching out to see if you have any insights or suggestions on how to motivate my team better. Perhaps, there are specific techniques or approaches I haven't considered.

Peter.

It can be frustrating to lead a team that isn't performing at its peak. One of the things a leader has to do is bring out the best in people, even the underperformers, and I commend your efforts so far.

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I think what you’re dealing with is one of two things; you have hired wrongly, in which case you have to let them go, or you are dealing with a lack of morale, and this can be caused by reasons beyond your control.

There are many online courses to teach people sales, so it’s not exactly true that one cannot learn sales; it all depends on your team's willingness to learn and use the information.

People also respond well to rewards and recognition. Rewards like salesperson of the month or week, can create some competition and motivate them to deliver as they should.

Your job as a manager is as much to guide as it is to assess. I think what you might not have considered is taking off your guardian hat and wearing the assessor hat.

I wish you all the best.

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