How to Deal with the Consummate Complainer

Become a better sales coach and sales manager today.

Have a complainer on your team who likes wasting time discussing quota, compensation, policy and procedures that you, as the manager, have little or no control over? Here’s how to shift the conversation from something you can’t control to something you can.

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Managers struggle with how to handle those conversations with their direct reports that pertain to issues they have little or no control over.  It could be a change in quota, policy or procedure that your direct report is not happy about. So inevitably, what happens every time your salesperson brings this issue up to you?

The manager shuts the conversation down with some eloquent messaging such as, “Well, you’re just going to have to deal with it because I have no control over this, it’s not going to change and there’s nothing we can do about it. So, you’ll have to find some other ways to get this done.”

Another common trap the manager falls into is taking the bait when their people cast it. That is, they waste an entire conversation listening to their direct report talk and complain about the change or policy and what they don’t like and you then acknowledging that you hear they don’t like it, even though there’s still nothing you can do.

Instead, try a different approach. The next time one of your salespeople come to you with a topic that you have no control or influence around, respond with the following:

“You know, I can really hear how frustrated this makes you and I’m sorry about that. Actually, it’s hard for me to even get 100% behind this initiative/change (new compensation package, HR guidelines, increased quota, etc.)  but I still have to commit to doing so, since it’s my responsibility, like it or not. How about this, instead of focusing on what we can’t control, let’s look at the things you’re currently doing and the activities and resources that you can control and work on a plan to achieve your goals by leveraging these things in a way we haven’t before. What do you think?”

Now, you’ve not only acknowledged them and confirmed that you’ve heard their concern but shifted the focus of the conversation away from what cannot be controlled, to what can be controlled, leveraged or influenced, while empowering your direct report to create new ideas or possibilities that they never saw before.

Photo Credit: Irene2005