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How To Give Negative Feedback To Your Sales Team Without Sounding Like A Jerk

By Darren Pierce on Dec 16, 2014 6:00:00 AM

I don’t know many people who actually like dealing with conflict or who actually enjoy giving criticism. I’m definitely not one of them, and I’ll bet there are plenty of others out there like me with the same opinion—giving negative feedback is hard.

Telling someone they’ve messed up or haven’t been performing well isn’t an easy task. Here are a few ways you can give negative feedback while still maintaining a positive rapport with your sales team.

Stop Putting It Off

Yup—it’s easy to procrastinate giving negative feedback. Shocker, I know.

One little issue can go on the back burner, but when the pot starts overflowing something needs to be done.

My best advice?

Give feedback as close to the moment as possible. There is never a perfect time for giving negative feedback, but the most effective time is right after the issue occurs. It’s hard to have a productive conversation about something that happened three months ago.

Avoid waiting until you have to give this kind of feedback, like at a quarterly review. Don’t paint yourself into a corner.

Don’t Make It Personal

Make everything about the action and its consequences. Don’t make it about the person.

It’s not time to play the blame game; it’s time to put our cards on the table so we can all get onto the same page.

“Dan, you really messed up those reports last month . . .” is much different from saying, “Those reports had a number of errors. I really need them cleaned up for this month, Dan.”

Don’t point fingers. Don’t generalize or exaggerate. Be objective and reference the specific actions that need to be addressed.

Make It A Two Way Street

Studies show that employees are significantly more engaged when their managers ask for feedback on their performance.

The most effective street is a two-way street. Employees will be much more apt to handle and listen to criticism when they know that you are open to accepting your own.

As a manager, doing this creates a culture where it’s okay to admit mistakes and shortcomings. The more used to constructive criticism your sales team is the easier it’s going to be to give it to them when it’s necessary.

And there are many times when it’s necessary.

How do you approach giving negative feedback to employees?

Written by Darren Pierce

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