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They say it – but do they mean it?

“We know nothing about motivation. All we can do is write books about it.” – Peter Drucker.

It’s Friday. Take a quick poll of your sellers today as you conduct your one-on-one meetings. Ask them about their current performance and the future. You’re likely to hear statements like these:

· I want to get better.

· I love feedback to help me improve.

But do they really mean it?

In the RAB Leadership MasterClass, we spend a great deal of time discussing performance standards and holding people accountable. The challenge with accountability is that we naturally think first of discipline; when we think of discipline, we think of punishment. Discipline means structure. For example, you are disciplined if you go to the gym daily. If you look up the word discipline, the first definition is “teaching.” So, as we say in our Leadership MasterClass: “Discipline is something you do FOR someone, not TO someone.” We hold our sellers accountable or provide discipline because we care and want the best for them.

Then, there is the question of whether they really want feedback. That depends on how it’s given. Of course, nobody wants to be shamed, embarrassed or made to feel inadequate. I’m also certain no manager or leader intentionally wants to make their teams feel that way. Unintentionally, many can feel that way based on how we provide the feedback.

The Brooks Group recently released a whitepaper, “The Ultimate Guide to Sales Coaching.” We are big fans of “systems” and creating formulas for the tasks we regularly perform – particularly those that can be more emotionally charged, like providing feedback. One of the suggestions in the whitepaper is about how you deliver feedback. They suggest it be well structured:

Structure feedback.

Instead of delivering feedback in a long, unprioritized list, group your observations in three chunks to make them more acceptable and actionable.

· Keep: Keep the feedback positive by starting out with three examples of things they are doing well and should keep on doing.

· Stop: Follow with one thing they should stop doing in order to increase their success.

· Start: End with one thing you recommend they start incorporating into their sales calls.

That’s a simple three-point plan on how to provide effective feedback. One of the other areas of feedback that is difficult for leaders is to avoid providing answers. While that sounds counter-intuitive, our goal as leaders, particularly in coaching, is NOT to give answers but to guide our teams toward self-awareness, self-improvement and growth. We don’t accomplish this by “telling them what to do.” We achieve this through carefully worded, nonjudgmental, nonpassive-aggressive questions. While “typical,” these are NOT those types of questions:

· What were you thinking?

· Why did you do it that way?

· Didn’t you pay attention in our last training session?

· Didn’t we just talk about his last week?

Those types of questions are filled with judgment and aggression. They make our teams defensive and argumentative and have them trying to justify their actions. That’s NOT what we want. We want them to analyze their efforts with a goal of improvement.

Instead, we want questions that don’t cause emotional responses but more thoughtful responses:

• How were you hoping the prospect would respond to your strategy?

• What could you have done differently to achieve your goal?

• Share with me your thought process for the approach you used...

Words matter. Before we start a training session, we should recognize the impact of our questions and make sure they are phrased to get the desired results. It’s not easy, which is why we spend a great deal of time discussing it in our classes.

Jeff Schmidt is the SVP of Professional Development. You can reach him at Jeff.Schmidt@rab.com. You can all so connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, SVP of Professional Development