Building a Sales Team: Part 2 – Be Positive About Feedback

When you hear “feedback,” do you automatically think of it as a negative? Do your employees?

It’s time for a change of attitude. You can and should enjoy delivering feedback. The secret to it is how you hold it.

Be Positive About Feedback

It’s natural to hold feedback as a critical act. It’s not! It’s a contribution to someone’s life and their future. Therefore, you need to change your frame of reference to it. Coaching contributes to someone who can’t develop without you or your wisdom.

Do you think employees don’t want feedback? That’s where you’re wrong. According to a recent PwC study, 60 percent of respondents said they want feedback daily or weekly. That number jumps to more than 70 percent for people under 30. And yet, the same study found that less than 30 percent say they get regular feedback. As you can see, there is an opportunity here for you as a leader.

But just knowing that your team wants feedback is just part of taking a positive attitude toward it. You also have to know why you’re giving it, how to deliver it, and perhaps most importantly, who you are giving it to.

Why Give Feedback

The answer to that, as noted above, is easy…because they want it! But there are underlying motivations for you to provide feedback. First, you are showing you care. Does that matter to employees? Well, ask yourself, does it matter to you whether your supervisor cares? Of course it does. Secondly, you are getting as much as you are giving. Listen to what your employees say. Ask probing questions. Be open to their feedback as much as you want them to be open to yours. Learning what your employees need to succeed is critically important and you can gain that information with feedback sessions. And lastly, you can nip things in the bud if they start going off the rails. People make mistakes. They misinterpret directions. They have a bad day/week. Whatever the reason, when you are regularly delivering (and getting) feedback, you’ll be able to address issues as they arise and not find out about them at the end of the quarter/year.

And speaking of giving feedback regularly…

How to Give Feedback Effectively

There are a LOT of resources you can find that will help improve your feedback skills. But what I’ve found to be most important is that you give it regularly. It is not enough to simply give quarterly reviews where you go over sales goals, tactics, and results. That’s reporting, not feedback.

Start with weekly check-ins. These short one-on-one meetings/calls are an opportunity to learn more about your team members, the challenges they are facing, and what you can do to help. These sessions should very much be a back-and-forth conversation. It’s during these times you will really demonstrate a level of caring that they will appreciate. That appreciation should lead to a degree of loyalty you may not have experienced previously. Stick to these weekly meetings…don’t let them lapse! And if you have to miss one, reschedule it. Don’t just put it off to next week. Again, this shows how important your direct report is to you.

You should still do quarterly meetings with your team. However, there shouldn’t be any surprises since you’ve met weekly. Now you can really dive into their annual goals, their professional desires, and your insight into how they can achieve both. Take these seriously and prepare for them like you would a client meeting. They are that important!

Again, the point is that you are meeting with them on a regular basis as a priority. That will go far toward improving your team’s overall performance and job satisfaction.

Who Is Getting the Feedback

In sales, knowing your audience is critical when delivering your recommendations. The same is true for delivering feedback to your team. My surgeon father always said, “never treat one patient the same as the next. Every person has their own DNA and their own unique protocol to cure.” Apply this to your behavior.

You are dealing with a human life here. A person whose lifeline to growth is in your hands. Get to know your employees so that you can relate to them wherever they are in their lives. Outside pressures can have a big impact on how they conduct themselves at work. Find out what’s going on and how they are handling it.

Direct reports, especially Gen X through Z, want to understand how they can get better. Knowing how each of them “ticks” and what type of feedback will resonate best with them is important. You will determine that over time via the weekly check-ins. Some will want a direct approach…just tell them where they are excelling and where they can improve. Others may want a softer touch. And so many other varieties in between. Keep in mind…it is your job to deliver the feedback so that they receive and respond to it. Be as specific as you can so that the feedback is relatable. Stories/specific examples teach people what their developmental behavior is. From this acknowledgment, you can mutually create a new scorecard of development you and your direct can use constructively going forward.

Can you be positive about feedback? Yes…and so can your team, eventually. As you continue moving your team towards transformational salespeople, transform your attitude about feedback and see what happens!