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Bryant Gibby

Bryant Gibby Used car manager

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Is negative reinforcement the way to go?

     I have never been a huge believer in negative reinforcement. The tough thing as a manager is to figure out what actions to take when you have repeatedly told an employee what to do and he fails to listen.  So what is the best way to handle a guy like that?

 

     We just had an issue with one of our salespeople last week and it has created enough controversy that I decided to write a post on it.  This guy has a history of being late more often than he should. He has been verbally warned from the owner of the store on several occasions not to miss is morning sales meeting.  We have never threatened anything against him nor have we ever written him up for his actions. He was late to another meeting last week and as a result, the owner decided to penalize him by taking away his largest spiff for the month ( which will end up being $500).  He is obviously really pissed about the situation and feels like he should have been warned about the negative reinforcement first. He also thinks it is a very extreme punishment and something a little more reasonable would have been more appropriate.

 

     I find that I am torn as to who's side I am on. I completely understand where the owner is coming from in that it is really hard to manage someone that doesn't listen to what you ask of them and are constantly making the same mistakes.  Conversely, having sold before I see where the salesguy is coming from. It was a  pretty drastic punishment and it could have been handled a little bit differently. 

 

     With all that said, what is the best way to approach a situation like this.  Is negative reinforcement really the answer or is there a more effective way that won't kill the moral of the salesperson?  What has worked for you guys in the past?

Dave Erickson
You really should follow a documented coaching process to reduce your liability. If you have a rule or schedule and there's no good reason he can't follow it (medication, medical condition, etc.) then you have no choice but to process him out. He's probably pretty pissed at you guys. I'd go by the books from here on out. Have a witness in these documented coaching meetings, cover your tracks, ..
Tom White Jr.
People don't do things for two reasons - either they don't know and you train them, or they don't care and you replace them...
Arnold Tijerina
If the spiff is in his pay plan, you might be violating labor laws by taking it away from him. You can't punish people by taking away pay. It's illegal. Just sayin.
Gary Sanders
Bryant, If he achieved the spiff, is he one of your producers? Does he have good reason to be late or feel entitled to being late or miss meeting. Rather than making an example of him, he may need postitve reinforcment. Having sold before, your approch may make it easy to ask him to step up and make a good example for the rest of the sales team and be (or become) a leader.
Bart Wilson
I agree with @Gary and @Tom. It sounds like he is worth keeping. If he's not then get rid of him because when you come out with a negative spiff like that you're drawing a line in the sand. You may lose someone valuable because you have to be consistent. It sounds to me like you need to find out what motivates this salesperson. Sometimes more responsibility is enough. I know of a salesperson who was an eight car guy. He got promoted simply because he had been at the dealership forever. As soon as he was promoted he blossomed into a great leader, and he's a GSM now. I'm not suggesting you promote salespeople because of tenure, but as Gary says he's probably a top producer anyway.

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