As a sales manager, you no doubt love many of the qualities of your most difficult employees. For example, they may be problematic because they are self-centered or not team players, but on the other hand, they may be passionate and take risks that pay off. What if there was a way to better manage these difficult employees without compromising their sales performance? Good news: there is such a way. Read the following tips below to get started.
1. Outline What You Do Not Like about These Difficult Employees
What are the attributes you dislike about difficult employees? For example, do they complain constantly? Do they make promises before asking you to approve them? Do they cut ethical corners? Write down everything you can think of.
2. Write the Opposite Behavior for Each Undesirable Behavior
Suppose you wrote ïcuts ethical cornersï above. The opposite behavior would be, ïbehaves ethically at all times.ï Likewise, ïcomplains constantlyï could become ïoffers constructive criticism at appropriate times.ï ïMakes promises without prior approvalï could turn into, ïChecks with management before making promises to clients.ï Each of these positive behaviors are actions that you should want your team as a whole to adopt with the ultimate goal of improving sales performance.
3. Share Your List with Your Team
When you are armed with a new list of positive attributes that each person on your sales team should exemplify, your next step is to share the list with these employees. Print the list, and include examples of these positive behaviors so that there is no room for doubt. Provide some sort of rationale. For instance, ïI thought we could all use a refresher on the factors that drive sales performance.ï
4. Meet Privately with Difficult Employees
The private meeting is not to single out difficult employees. Far from it, you are actually asking these employees to serve as role models for the team, since they are so intuitive and smart. Play to their egos to get them to go along. In fact, you should do this for every employee. Make everyone feel special, because everyone is special.
5. Start Right Away
Don’t wait to start making your list. It is tempting to ignore the problem of difficult employees for yet another day, week or month. Don’t make that mistake anymore. You’ve seen up front the demoralizing effect that these difficult employees have on the rest of your sales team. Start right away on creating a more welcoming atmosphere for everyone.
6. Analyze Your Role in Enabling Difficult Employees
At some point, you need to analyze your role in enabling difficult employees. Begin this analysis while you are identifying the attributes you dislike in difficult employees, and ask yourself questions like, ïHow did this situation develop?ï ïWhat factors and conditions did I set or enable that allowed the problem to get out of hand?ï and ïWhat actions do I need to take as a sales manager to ensure such situations do not occur again?ï Common causes of an atmosphere that encourages difficult employees include: – A hands-off management style – Lack of communication about expectations – No guidelines about standards and expected behavior (such as ethical behavior) – Ambiguity about sales processes – A focus on results and sales production, even if the means to get there were shady
7. When Difficult Employees Do Not Respond
So you have met with your team and asked folks to serve as role models. Ideally, everyone steps up to the plate, and the work environment becomes more friendly and welcoming. But what if that does not happen? Then it’s time for more direct strategies. If you have a human resources department, ask a staffer for help. Alternatively, chat with your difficult employees one on one. Give examples of their negative actions, and describe the effect that the behavior has had on the team as well as sales performance. Use your judgment as how to follow up. For instance, some people genuinely have no idea of their behavior, much less the negative impact it has had, and would take seriously such a question as, ïIf you were on the other end, how would you feel about someone behaving that way?ï Other people would be more responsive to a statement and question like, ïWe cannot tolerate this kind of behavior. How can we change and help you make changes?ï It is often helpful to play toward these employees’ egos as you move forward. Explain the value of team work and that these employees are assets even as their behavior needs to change. Say that you want them to keep contributing without losing any of their passion. As you work to drive sales performance and to make all-star hires, turn to the resources here at Mighty Recruiter for additional guidance.