Get advice on how to deal with jerks at work Check out the book 'Jerks At Work' and other titles by Ken Lloyd Ph.D. Return to the homepage Learn more about Ken Lloyd, Ph.D. Submit a question to Ken Lloyd, Ph.D.

You asked, Ken answers ...

This item is filed under these categories:
Feedback Teamwork Conflict Anger

We have three tiers of sales, and one of the sales reps on the top tier has a bad attitude and is not a team player. When she receives any feedback she feels is negative, she becomes angry and refuses to accept it. We would like your suggestions on how to work on changing her attitude.

Before working on changing this employee's attitude, it may be helpful to work on the feedback you give her. This is one of your top salespeople, and she has not risen to her level of success by joyously accepting every piece of criticism thrown at her. In fact, if she were overly receptive to such feedback, she may well have a problem handling customer objections and closing sales.

For feedback to be effective, it should be given as close to the problematic behavior as possible, and it should be based on the behavior itself. When people sense they are being labeled, such as by being told they have a negative attitude, they will tend to reject it.

Although you are interested in having her be more of a team player, look at the incentives and disincentives associated with this expectation. For example, if your commissions are based solely on individual performance, there is less reason for her to reach out to her teammates. If you want more team oriented actions, try implementing incentives that reward the entire team.

And finally, try to think of feedback as coaching rather than disciplining. This means less focus on negative issues, and more focus on developmental issues.

Comment on this item

Your name (optional)
If you leave this blank, we'll list you as "Website visitor"

Your comments
Please keep your comments focused on the topic. Thanks!