I was listening to a Sandler Sales podcast on how to manage your sales team. All too often all al that employees get at a review or one on one is a laundry list of that they are doing wrong. Ugh been on the receiving end of that myself. One company I worked for as a Customer Support person, was to say the least challenging. My first day there the VP of the department had me in their office. They said: There’s people out back making things, there are people in the field selling things, then there’s you, you are just overhead. With that inspiring speech I started my job.
About a year later one of the sales team members took me on a ride a long. He quipped that they hand out complements around here like are manhole covers. Considering they weigh 75 lbs each, they aren’t all that easy to hand out. We agreed that if you get things right you get left alone, get one thing wrong and that is all you will hear about. Well you can imagine how loyal folks were, and how that was reflected in product quality. It took some years but eventually the birds came home to roost and they are gone.
This was an important lesson I learned. As I think Jim Rohn said you can learn from successful people and you can learn from unsuccessful people. Imitate the Successful Experts and learn what not to do from the unsuccessful people. Later in my career I noticed a project was drifting towards failure. I took action, got buy in from the VP I reported to and then grabbed the bull by the horns. I took the time to meet with folks individually and formulate a plan to get the project on track without blame. One key thing I did was drive from the HQ Office to the Factory for our weekly meetings. My secret weapon was complementing even the smallest progress, that and brining Doughnuts and Bagels to every meeting. Then I championed their needs with Sr. Management back at HQ. Then shared the credit with the team. We got the project done on time and that lead to a very successful product launch.
The podcast said you have to build trust and credibility before you can provide constructive feedback. One of the key things I learned from the podcast was to complement 5 times more than you suggest corrections. A one to five or more ratio will make it more likely that the person will accept your recommendations. Next they said track it, yes track the number of Complements you give every day. Then set a goal to increase it. If you measure goals they tend to happen, if you don’t they don’t.
Complements can be light as a feather, they cost nothing and are highly valued by the receiver.