I have a complicated question to ask about my particular work environment.
I am a big fan of the show and have learned the power of the one-on-one, feedback, the art of delegation, and have become a much better communicator through your casts. The only hitch is that these models pre-suppose that a direct wants to improve. I manage a winery tasting room in Sonoma, Ca and most of my staff are older retirees with no interest in becoming better sales people or improving their customer service skills; they're not interested in promotion or advancement and for the most part they believe that wine should sell itself. I’ve tried feedback and incentives but with limited success. Our winery was recently purchased by a large beverage group and our sales goals for the year are astronomical. An attempt was made by the last manager to clean house. But she failed and left the organization in frustration after not succeeding in getting rid of even one of them.
I don’t want to give up on them. I want to energize and encourage them into a great wine sales team. So my question really is, how do you provide adjusting feedback to and motivate people who see you as nothing but the latest young punk trying to teach them new tricks they don’t want to learn?


outthere's picture

Just a couple of notes:

- What is it that your directs want?
- How can meeting the sales goals get them what they want?
- Does the aura of the previous house-cleaning still persist as an implicit disincentive?

US101's picture
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The MT tools (O3’s, feedback, coaching) do not assume a direct reports wants improve. The tools are implemented the same way regardless of whether you’re trying to improve the person or you think the person isn’t save able. Though Late Stage Coaching is different than regular coaching. Listen to that cast

A MT manager does not wait around for their people to magically want to improve.

Look at increasing concentric circles around YOU.

Are you are tolerating poor performance?

Are you are setting the bar too low?

Have you made negative comments to your directs about the unrealistic sales goals?

Are you giving feedback about behavior, i.e., work product, what they say, how they say it, body language, and facial expressions? Or are you giving praise, i.e., good job, I appreciate it and criticism “I’m disappointed in you.” “That didn’t go well.”

Have you given positive feedback 100% of the time when they up-sell, cross-sell, add-on sell? Do you give positive feedback 100% of the time when they ask effective questions of customers such as, “Where are you going to dinner tonight? That restaurant doesn’t charge for corking our wines.” “Do you need a bottle for dinner tonight?” “What are you from? Oh, that state is a reciprocal state…so…” “Do you have an upcoming family event or birthday you need to purchase for?”

Do you do hold Hot Washes after special events?

When their behavior doesn’t change after giving them feedback do you say something like, “"You know Bob, when you've agreed to up-sell and when I've given you repeated feedback I think we have a bigger problem. What can you do about differently?"

Are you holdings O3's and holding them accountable to attend the O3? Failure to attend is insubordination. It is a legitimate management request to meet with your people weekly. You can do so much status reviewing and feedback that they resign from the frustration of having a real boss who will not tolerate poor performance.

It is not easy to turn around problem employees or convince them to leave. You have to be like a dog with bone that doesn't want to let of the bone because that means you have have to "let go" of the direct report.

HMac's picture

[quote="wonderfig"]So my question really is, how do you provide adjusting feedback to and motivate people who see you as nothing but the latest young punk trying to teach them new tricks they don’t want to learn?[/quote]


If they really see you that way, the way forward is not that complicated.

Replace 'em, and start right away.

If they really believe that "the wine should sell itself" that's admirable - but you're gonna miss your sales goals. And YOU will appropriately be held responsible for your unit's failure.

Sounds like you had a good thing going - but things have changed. And your unit has to change with them.

Don't be unfair - but replace people who won't change with the company's direction. You might well find that after you switch out one or two, the others will see you're serious and get with the program.


wonderfig's picture

Thank you all for the feedback. I do hold myself accountable for the failures of my crew. And the first place I look when things go wrong is in the mirror. I am not new at managing wine sales teams. But my experience has been with crews who get excited about the numbers and like to hit goals. This "sells itself" attitude is perplexing. Why work in wine retail if you don't want to sell wine?
US101 I know that you are right to a degree. I have made some negative comments about the sales goals, and I've been trying to wine hearts and minds here so perhaps the bar has been set a little low. I just didn't want to come barging in here and start busting chops. I want to get them on my side, but perhaps I've gotten too soft in my attempt to win their loyalty.
I don't expect anyone to magically start caring but I need to motivate them or get them out of here quick.
The only problem with replacing people here is that our company requires a rather strict documentation process. They require a signature from each employee for every piece of documentation. A record of the feedback and meetings I've held is not admissible. I've started trying to collect this documentation but it could take quite some time. This is exactly the problem that drove my predecessor nuts.
Has anyone been in this situation and how did you handle it?

aniinl's picture

Hi Sean,

I really admire you for not giving up and trying to energize them instead focusing on getting rid of them, though I can imagine how frustrating it is, when your reports see themselves as more experienced as you (being younger than them and new in their eyes).

From here, it sounds to me a bit like a lack of mutual understanding for the other partie's experience. Your reports seem like they have been doing this job for ages, and they might know a lot about wine etc. and maybe they come from a "we've always done it this way" point of view. Nobody likes change (except for wet babies :)) so here are those "young punks" trying to tell them what to do differently from now on. But the young punks have a lot of commercial knowledge, and they know why things need to be done differently if the company is supposed to remain competitive.

I'm thinking of two things:

1. find out what they want (was already mentioned above). What motivates them? Everyone has different drivers, and like you say, those "older" people can't be motivated by the same things as younger ones who still have a career ahead of them. That doesn't mean they can't be motivated. Show genuine interest in them and find out what makes them tick. I don't think it's even wrong to ask them for help, on how you can motivate them. That will show them how important they are to you and how interested you in them.

[quote]Why work in wine retail if you don't want to sell wine?[/quote]

That's a good question? Have you ask them that? I wouldn't phrase it quite so hard, maybe, but who knows what their reasons for being in the wine business are? I'm associating wine with relaxing and enjoying life. Maybe they do, too :) Ask them what they love about wine and if they become really passionate about it, tell them to use exactly those passionate speeches with their customers :) (Sorry, I'm not a sales person and I don't want to sound patronizing or like I'm telling you what to do. This just came to my mind.)

In the worst case you could also ask the other way round: If you would lose this job tomorrow - would you actually care? How much would then change in your life? Maybe they just didn't get the message yet, on how serious the situation is.

2. Give them facts. Unemotional facts and numbers, that they can interpret for themselves. Appreciate the way they worked in the past, tell them even why this was a good way of doing things - in the past. This will show them that you know what you're talking about and that you appreciate that they are able *to do things right*, and, that you can judge what the right things to do are.
Then show them why this particular approach is now not working anymore. Explain them what the changes mean (i.e. beeing taken over by a big company) and give them proof of how the things they are doing are not working anymore, or what negative impact they are having. Let them see it and understand that i.e. the company will go bankrupt in 6 months or so and they won't have jobs anymore, if they don't change their approach. A good wine gets better as it gets older, but "procedures" or "approaches" don't work the same way. They are only as good as the results they bring and might have to be constantly adjusted.

Good luck :)