The Staff Log is a simple tool to track your interactions with your sales reps. I was introduced to it by my manager when he promoted me to run a team of 10 reps.
This log is so simple, you will have a hard time believing how much it can impact your effectiveness as a manager. I’ve recommended it to many managers who’ve worked for me and those of us that use it find it invaluable.
I’ve tried using Weekly reports, folders with hard copy notes, evernote and notebooks to keep track of coaching for reps before learning to use the staff log. Nothing works as well for me.
Creating the Staff Log
- Create a new document is Excel, Google sheets or whatever spreadsheet you prefer.
- Name the document. I creatively call mine “Staff Log (current year)”.
- Type this in the first column: Personal (A1), Strengths (A2), Improvement Areas (A3)*
- Leave row 4 blank*
- In row five type this: Date (A6), Issue (B6), Actions (C6)*
- Create a tab for each employee and name it the employee’s name.
*Click and expand the image above for an actual sample which might be easier to follow.
Using the Log
This log is used to document important interactions with your reps.
Ideally, every time you meet with your rep for a 1-on-1, a drop in meeting, or a call, you would make a quick log entry. You also want to document observations of your reps. Be sure to document the good observations as well as the bad.
In practice, I found that I updated the log at least after every weekly 1-1 and then periodically based on a particular employee’s issues.
Before meeting with a rep, I quickly reveiwed the log to refresh my mind for any current issues.
Generally, I opened the log every morning and kept it open all day so I could add a quick note anytime.
I also tended to have a notebook in my hand when I’m not at my desk. I’d jot a note and write STAFF LOG beside it so I could transfer it to the log later.
First, you’ll never remember everything you’ve said to a rep, the details of certain interactions, your specific coaching etc. With most sales managers running teams of 5 – 20 reps it is simply impossible to remember all of this.
Here’s what else I’ve found:
- My reps thought I had a photographic memory because I’d often refer back to a conversation we had weeks earlier or because I’d observe a pattern of behavior and then review a series of specific incidences.
- I gained a better understanding of my reps’ motivations and challenges. Often in 1-on-1’s we’d discuss personal issues which were noted in the log. (Eg. Bill’s mother had heart bypass surgery scheduled. I made sure sure to check with Bill on her condition, see if he needed to take time off etc.)
- I’m usually so busy, that I’d sometimes fail to see a pattern of behavior that needs to stop. A good example is when I speak with a rep about improving call volume during a 1-on-1 and they agree to increase it. Then I see the same low volume a week later and we discuss it. Then it’s low again in 2 weeks. Rather than nagging the rep, we can meet and disucss the specific actions to address. This helps me to identify trends quickly and react.
- It’s extremely important to document the GOOD STUFF. I want to praise my rep when he does well. I love to catch a rep doing something outstanding and surprise them with recognition for it in a team meeting or a 1-on-1. I can also use these he doing formal annual reviews.
- For HR issues, putting people on a plan or firing them the staff log is simply unmatched. It provides a verifiable history of coaching, verbal warnings, email warnings and fact based evidence. Not every Inside Sales Manager has to “make an airtight legal case” for terminating an employee. For those who work in a larger company, this may be required. Some places I’ve worked had policies that made it very difficult to terminate someone in less than 6 months. I’ve heard of others where it took up to a year. With the staff log, I’ve been able to accelerate this process for the good of everyone (This includes the employee. See my future post on firing for further details).
Theres nothing left but doing the work. Get to it!