Providing Constructive Feedback

This article was originally published on K. Coaching, Inc.’s website. It has been re-posted here with their permission.

At K.Coaching, we work with many clients that want to improve their leadership and management skills. Often we see managers avoiding crucial conversations or giving constructive feedback. Sometimes it may feel better to just ignore the situation, hoping that it will go away, instead of addressing the situation appropriately and constructively. Most likely, the manager will provide short, pointed, unflattering remarks to get a sales rep’s attention.

The next time an employee requires constructive feedback, consider it an opportunity to impact their future behavior in a positive way. If given properly, constructive feedback can make a difference between an employee’s success and failure,since its purpose is to improve their job performance.

Consider the following example and steps as an effective process for giving constructive feedback:

Situation: You have a sales rep that is not spending enough time in the field; you constantly see him at his desk, seemingly busy, but not meeting your expectations and certainly not visiting enough prospects or current clients.

What you might say: “What are you still doing in the office?” Or, worse, “Is your car broken?” Maybe you’ll ask, “Don’t you have any sales calls today?” Or, like many people often do, you’ll just ignore it, complain to someone else, or go back to your office and stew about it, letting your frustration build. Obviously, none of these responses are constructive, nor will they communicate your expectations or yield different results.

Try this:

1. Identify the problem behavior.
I’d like to talk with you a moment; please come into my office. I have noticed that you have been in the office, rather than in the face of the customer, and this is a problem. Your responsibility is to spend 50% of your time on face-to-face appointments with customers and prospects, and you are not doing that.

2. Explain how the behavior is wrong or detrimental.
The reason this is so critical is that we are in a very competitive market and your current customers are being prospected by our competitors. You need to stay close with them and always be providing value. We have talked about you having at least two prospect appointments a day to bring in the new business we are expecting of you.

3. Help the individual acknowledge the problem.
Do you understand why this is a problem, and that it needs to be corrected?

4. Develop goals with the individual.
Let’s agree on some goals to get you on more of a schedule for being in the field during certain times of the day, and develop a clearer understanding of the amount of time you should allocate to face-to-face customer meetings compared to time in the office. What hours or days, how many do you think is necessary and what can you commit to? What can I do to help you?

5. Monitor the individual’s performance.
I’d like to meet with you every Friday at 4:00 to review your weekly activities and success in this area. I’m sure that if you keep up this new schedule, you will meet your sales goals and have a great year!

Krista Moore is an EO Raleigh Durham member and President of K.Coaching, Inc., an executive coaching and consulting practice.

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