My mentor invited me up to Toronto Canada recently to deliver a speech on the power of story to a client of his. The audience was great, the client was fun, and it was particularly rewarding to have my mentor in the room to see one of the things I do in real time.
I wrapped up the talk at about 5pm and was really looking forward to going to get a beer with this mentor, someone who I love to spend time with. As he pulled out of the parking lot, he said “What’s one thing you think you did well?” Like any good manager or mentor, he was starting to provide performance feedback that was both consistent and timely. And like any normal employee, I thought, “How dare he? All I wanted to do was relax, and now I have to do a feedback session!?! Ugh…”.
I, of course, said; “No no no! I know what you are doing. We are NOT doing feedback right now. I want a beer right now!”
And he, being my mentor, said; “No, we are doing feedback now. What’s one thing you think you did well?”
“Come on, man, can’t I relax for a minute?”
“Craig, what’s one thing you think you did well?” (Mentors can be such a pain in the ass, can’t they?)
So I finally caved and answered his question. And then I learned, for the 6,000th time, why mentorship is so powerful. When he got to the “Here’s one thing I think you should do differently” (step 4), he identified something that I was doing in my talk that was out of order, and that put in the proper order would be 10 times more powerful. Unbelievable! Here’s a speech I’ve given almost 200 times, and he picked out something that would make it measurably better.
I got a great gift that day. The next time I gave that talk, the people who came up afterwards to talk to me mostly focused on that change I had made. Because of that, I knew that his feedback had been dead-on. If I hadn’t gotten his performance feedback – and, more importantly – if he had not had the guts to dive into the feedback model to provide it, I would still be doing my talk the same way and forfeiting some of the power of the speech.
We think management is the most critical link to a powerful sales engine. And regular and consistent feedback is a key skill of a strong sales manager. If you want higher performance – out of yourself and those around you – it doesn’t happen by magic. It happens by providing performance feedback.