Providing constructive feedback is an essential part of any successful business. It’s the only way to ensure your team consistently grows and improves. Otherwise, you do the same old same old — over and over again. If you don’t improve, your customers will notice your organization has reached its plateau and move on to your competitors.
As a sales manager, executive, or business owner, it’s on you to make smart hiring decisions. It’s your responsibility to identify talent gaps, find the best candidates to fill those positions, and weed out the ones who clearly won’t be able to adapt to your organization’s demands for growth and hitting goals.
When hiring new employees and incorporating them into your culture, it’s vital they can handle constructive feedback without becoming defensive or disengaged. Onboarding someone who can’t take feedback well could be a massive detriment to your organization — so we’re here to help you avoid making preventable mistakes along your sales hiring journey.
Why Constructive Feedback Matters
There’s nothing worse than being on the receiving end of criticism with no call to action or suggestions for improvement. Nobody likes being pulled into their monthly one-on-ones only to hear they’re underperforming and to “do better.” Instead, there needs to be direction, strategy, and support.
The best managers and sales leaders can channel feedback to their team, peers, and superiors in a direct, helpful, and meaningful way. Harsh, nasty criticism of your sales team isn’t going to get you anywhere. That’s why constructive feedback is so important. Not every employee you hire will be a grand slam from day one. There’s a reason you invest in training programs, management, and other internal resources — you can’t expect everyone to meet or exceed expectations without navigating a development process.
Constructive feedback is an excellent way to help employees grow and develop. It allows them to identify areas where they need improvement and enables them to make changes to become more successful. Additionally, constructive feedback helps build trust between managers and employees, showing that the manager cares about their development and wants them to succeed.
How To Identify Candidates Who Can Handle Constructive Feedback
When interviewing potential candidates for a role, it’s essential to ask questions to help you determine whether or not they can handle constructive feedback.
Ask the candidate these questions
- “Have you been given construct feedback by a former boss?” And if so, “What feedback did you receive?”
- “How did you respond to it?”
- “What changed as a result of that feedback?”
As part of the hiring process, give them an opportunity to demonstrate their skills by incorporating a role play designed to test their true competencies. Then ask questions about their performance to see how self-aware they are of their abilities and shortcomings. Finally, wrap up with constructive feedback taking note of their response.
We’ve said it before, and it’s worth repeating. It’s okay to say “no” during the sales hiring process.
Vetting out bad fits for your organization is just as important (and sometimes more important) than finding what you think is a perfect fit. So, ask tough questions, do role practices, and make candidates walk you through their experiences of taking feedback from peers, managers, and people they’ve managed themselves. You’ll learn a ton about their personalities and how they might navigate your organization’s feedback process.
The Dangers of Hiring Employees Who Don’t Take Feedback Well
Hiring an employee who can’t handle constructive feedback can adversely affect the company. Although, if you enjoy repeating yourself (a lot), then hire that person. When an employee cannot accept and apply constructive feedback (from both leadership and their peers), it can lead to a lack of growth, resulting in wasted time and bringing down team morale. For instance, they may resist changing or develop a defensive attitude that can hamper communication and interactions with other team members. In addition, when other team members can’t provide constructive feedback, this hinders regular, open communication and slows everyone down.
Moreover, when employees are misguided by ego and left unattended without constructive feedback for too long, they can bring down morale, negatively impact performance, and adversely affect client relationships. In severe cases, it may lead to a toxic work environment or cause high turnover rates. Bad hires can affect the entire organization in many ways and likely result in a loss of time and resources.
Organizations should have an effective process for evaluating and identifying during recruitment to avoid any adverse effects of hiring employees that cannot handle constructive feedback. After recruitment, managers should include continuous, positive, and constructive feedback with new and existing employees in their coaching sessions. Addressing areas of improvement and noting progress can galvanize team members to work together towards overarching team goals.
How to Provide Constructive Feedback in a Remote Work Environment
Remote work has become increasingly prevalent in the modern business world. However, providing feedback from a distance can be difficult as there are fewer opportunities to see body language or provide reinforcement. Navigating the feedback process remotely is challenging but possible. Let’s dive in.
One way to approach this is by frequently and regularly scheduling numerous video check-in calls. A video call replaces what is missed because they’re remote and affords more significant opportunities for effective communication since both parties can observe each other’s body language and tone, helping foster an open and positive environment.
Leveraging technology is also a strategy for providing constructive feedback remotely. Regular use of screen sharing and virtual collaboration tools is one way to help employees understand areas of weakness and how they can improve. However, it is essential to identify how employees can better handle constructive feedback without causing undue stress. Managers should focus on regular feedback and seek to understand remote employees’ perspectives so they can make informed decisions.
- Schedule a video call instead of relying on email or chat. This allows for better communication and nonverbal cues.
- Use screen sharing to give examples and show specific areas that need improvement.
- Provide timely feedback rather than letting it pile up and discussing it all simultaneously.
- Seek to understand the remote employee’s perspective and consider any challenges they may face.
Using these techniques, you can ensure your remote employees receive the same feedback and support as your in-office team members.
Tips For Providing Effective Constructive Feedback
Once you’ve hired an employee who can handle constructive feedback, managers and supervisors must provide feedback respectfully and helpfully. Here are some tips for delivering constructive feedback that makes an impact:
- Be specific about what needs improvement and provide examples of how your employees can do this.
- Focus on behavior rather than personality traits or characteristics.
- Offer suggestions for improvement rather than just pointing out mistakes or shortcomings.
- Ensure employees understand why their performance needs improvement and how this could benefit them and the organization.
- Get commitments on what they’ll do to improve — putting feedback into action.
- Inspect what you expect. In subsequent check-ins, ask what progress they’ve made on their commitments.
Hiring employees who can handle constructive feedback is essential for any successful business. Asking the right questions during interviews and providing effective feedback once they’re hired will help ensure that your team is continually growing and improving over time.
At Topaz Sales Consulting, we specialize in assisting organizations in finding top talent who can thrive under pressure while also taking feedback well. Contact us today if you want to work with experienced sales, sales hiring, and sales leadership consultants who can help your team succeed.