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The question

I’m a team leader of a sales team. I have a co-worker who is in the same position and my manager handed her my No. 1 team due to my co-worker complaining about her team not doing as well. This lowers my commission by more than 50 per cent. Human resources told me it was a business decision and could not help me resolve the situation. What can I do about this?

The first answer

Eileen Chadnick, Principal, Big Cheese Coaching, Toronto

If you spoke to HR but if you haven’t yet talked directly to your manager, I’d suggest you do that to express your concern and to seek further clarity. There may be more to this business decision than you are currently aware of.

Depending on what you learn, you may have some decisions to make – to either find a way to make this role work or invest your time in finding a new job. It was unclear the degree your total earnings come from commission. Either way, you need to discern the impact this team change will have on your earnings and career potential over the longer term. Can you find ways to make it up? New sales initiatives? Bring on new team members? If the members of your No. 1 sales team had chosen to leave the company, you’d be in the same position.

Beyond the financial impact, do you like your job? How about the company? If you could make it work – ideally with more support from your manager – would there be merit in staying?

Ultimately, you are the manager of your own career. Sales and sales management are very transferable skills. If it turns out that this organization is not supportive of your career goals, then invest the time to find a better fit elsewhere. Sure, getting a new job can take effort. But staying in a job that isn’t working – well, that doesn’t cut it either, does it?

One final note, if (or when) you do choose to move on, make sure you do so with grace and don’t burn any bridges. You never know who you will meet up with again down the road. Navigate wisely.

The second answer

Bruce Sandy, Principal, Pathfinder Coaching & Consulting, Vancouver

Talk to your co-worker. Explain to her that you are happy to share your No. 1 sales team in order to help her out on a short-term basis. Point out to her that this will have a significant impact on your commission and that you would like to propose a split of the commission. For example, ask for 75 per cent for you and 25 per cent for her to begin with and be prepared to negotiate to a 50/50 split.

Indicate to her that you and your sales team will work with her and her other sales team(s) to improve their revenue generation. Point out that this will be for a designated period of time then your No. 1 sales team will return to you. Hopefully, she will appreciate your support and be willing to agree to and, at least, negotiate these conditions. You can then indicate to your manager that you have worked out the sales support and commission split with your co-worker.

If your co-worker is not willing to work with you, then have the same conversation with your manager. See if the company will support your team-based, short-term approach to help your co-worker. If not, then document the situation and include the impact on your sales figures in your sales reports. Provide a copy to your manager and their boss. Also, polish up your résumé and start working your network to find another position with a more supportive boss and/or company.

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