Welcome back!
Do You Have Too Many Direct Reports?
Most leaders can at some point relate to the issue of having too many direct reports. As organization structures grow and change, it’s a common struggle for most every leader I’ve worked with. Especially as you advance and take on bigger and bigger roles. The fact of the matter is that you can only provide clear and effective one-on-one leadership to a handful of people. Beyond 7-8 direct reports, it becomes difficult to give the attention and development they need and want.
Eventually, you’ll need to reduce the number of people who report directly to you. I often hear leaders in this situation express concern that the shift will result in someone being angry or disappointed. While that is usually true, it doesn’t mean that the change isn’t necessary. The more important question is how will you handle it? Here are a few thoughts to guide you.
  1. Acknowledge their disappointment. When faced with a change, people’s first reaction is to ask “how will this impact me?” Try to understand what is at the core of their reaction and acknowledge the real disappointment that comes with this change.
  2. Discuss the rationale. Explain the strategic rationale behind the change. Be very clear that it was operational and not personal. Make sure to tell them well in advance so they have time to process the change and can take the steps needed to transition to a new structure.
  3. Work to continue the personal connection. They may be disappointed that they will no longer have a direct reporting relationship with you. But that doesn’t mean they can’t have a strong connection. This is especially valuable with leaders whose support and alignment you still need. Make a commitment to be proactive in staying in contact for at least a year. Continue to have routine conversations and open dialogue. It may not be the same cadence of involvement as before, but the connection will remain intact.
Don’t avoid reducing the number of direct reports you have for fear of disappointing your team. Acknowledge when you are spread too thin to be an effective leader and then be intentional about how you make the change.
LinkedIn Live
Join me on Tuesday, February 8th at 3pm Eastern. We will be discussing hoe to get the best out of your sales organization.
The Solutions Mindset
One of my Solution Sales videos was featured in a LinkedIn article called A Solutions Mindset is the Way Forward in B2B Sales. Here’s How to Adopt It. The author, Paul Petrone, acknowledges that conventional sales processes are no longer effective. Sales shouldn’t focus on trying to persuade someone to buy, but instead show them how a product or service can be a solution to a problem.
A solutions mindset is a gamechanger. If you spend too much time listing features or convincing a customer why they need to purchase your service or product, they might find you off putting. You need to first listen to the problem they are experiencing and then demonstrate how you can provide a solution.
Paul provides two fundamental rules of the solutions mindset:
  1. It is your responsibility to understand your client’s objectives.
  2. Recognize that you provide value, not just your product.
Maintaining a solutions mindset will ensure your focus is on helping your customer achieve their goals instead of focusing on achieving your sales goals.
You can learn more about applying these to your own sales process in my Solution Sales course on LinkedIn Learning.
Phrases That Need to be Retired
I laughed when reading this Harvard Business Review article about phrases that people need to stop using in meetings. I have heard each of these phrases far too many times throughout my career. They are often inserted as fillers, to avoid full transparency, or to passively make a point. Here are a few of examples from the article with my thoughts on why they should be retired:
  • “Let’s take this offline.” I see this one as a cover for “I don’t want to talk about this right now” or “I don’t know how to answer this so I’m trying to buy some time.”
  • “I’m going to give you 10 minutes of your life back.” What a sad way to make the meeting sound like the worst possible experience in life.
  • “We’re going to wait five minutes for everyone to join.” Instead of making everyone that joined the meeting on time wait and do nothing, why not ask them to spend the first few minutes writing down their intention for the meeting.
From my perspective, the problem is lazy language. There isn’t enough respect and intention behind how words influence people. I urge you, the next time you are about to say one of these, pause and think about it’s effectiveness (or lack thereof).
I was disappointed that my hometown team, the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers, were eliminated from the NFL playoffs. I had a ticket for the game but was added to the Covid reserve list on Friday before the game so I couldn’t be there. Not that I would have affected the outcome…or would I have? In any case, whatever you think of Tom Brady, this quotation is a wonderful sentiment about how we think about winning, losing, and failing. Losing is inevitable. But maybe it isn’t always failing.
“I always want to win, I think that’s pretty apparent by now, but that doesn’t mean I equate losing to failure, especially when you go out fighting the way we did.” Tom Brady
Next Steps
Please join me on Tuesday, February 8th at 3pm Eastern for another LinkedIn Live.

Edinger Consulting