Colleague Dropping the Ball? Manager Won’t Help? Ask Madeleine

Dear Madeleine,

I am a regional sales director for a company that installs gutters for houses. I have spent endless time training my people to map out exactly what is needed for each house. We created beautiful online templates so salespeople could provide the detail that the install team needs to show up with the right equipment and the proper product cut into proper lengths.

The install teams seem to ignore all the information we give them. They show up with the wrong products, install things haphazardly, and the customers all call to complain that their gutters are not what was promised to them.

It is ridiculous. My salespeople are so tired of all their hard work being disregarded, and of course the unhappy customers call them to complain.

The director in charge of the install teams refuses to admit any fault and won’t force his people to use the information we provide. At this point, he is not answering my emails or phone calls.

We have a sales quota to meet, but the morale of my folks is at an all time low. I have talked to my boss about it, and his attitude is basically that it is my problem and I should figure it out. I just don’t know what I can do to change this situation without his support.




Dear Powerless,

This sounds so frustrating. And this is a classic point of tension in most companies—the disconnect between what is sold and what is delivered keeps a whole lot of people up at night. It sounds like you have hit a brick wall with your boss, which is absurd, because it sounds like an organizational problem. But short of tackling your counterpart in the parking lot, I think you probably are on your own.

The only thing I can think of is to somehow get the salespeople to create relationships with their install team leads. Instead of simply sending a bunch of information to an install team, a salesperson needs to actually communicate—by phone, zoom meeting, or a quick conversation. I think we have all the evidence we need that nobody can keep up with all of the communications coming at them. People need to talk to each other, and that is something you can work with. Possibly create an offsite meeting to do some relationship and team building. I do think that, absent support from anyone else, your best hope is making sure people on both teams meet, get to know each other, maybe even brainstorm how to solve the problem as a group.

Once relationships are established, install teams are much more likely to be open to influence from the salesperson.

We all tend to look to processes and systems to fix big problems—and long term, you may be able to influence enough to get those in place. But until you can get there, your problem is still people needing to work with people. And for people to work well together, they need to know and care about each other. So that may be a place to start.

Love, Madeleine

About Madeleine

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response soon. Please be advised that although she will do her best, Madeleine cannot respond to each letter personally. Letters will be edited for clarity and length.

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