18 July 2023 |

Context Means Clarity

By Alex Alleyne

I have lost count of the number of times I have shared feedback intending for it to come across a certain way, only for the other person to receive it completely differently. I am sure you have been there too and it can be incredibly frustrating, especially when your intentions are pure.

But, looking back I realized that, on multiple occasions, I was missing one key ingredient when sharing feedback: context

When delivering feedback to your team, never assume that they understand your angle or where you’re coming from. It is critical to provide clear context around:

  • Where this feedback is coming from 
  • Why you’re sharing this feedback
  • What you hope you achieve mutually by sharing this feedback

🎯 Provide context for the “3 Ws” in advance. It pre-frames the conversation and helps the recipient to appreciate the fact that you are coming from a positive and forward looking perspective.

Feedback without context leaves the 3 questions above open to interpretation. This presents multiple risks as to how that person receives what you’re sharing.

Always Provide A Path Forward

When we hear the phrase “constructive feedback” it is often just a fancy term to mask negative feedback.

It is important to share feedback of this nature where it is warranted due to performance or behavior. With that said, one of the most common pitfalls for many SaaS Sales Leaders is sharing the feedback itself, without any tactical steps their seller could take to improve.

Feedback in isolation isn’t helpful. Feedback alongside context and an action plan can be incredibly powerful, whilst helping your rep to take active steps forward.

If you need to deliver constructive feedback on behavior for example, ensure that it considers:

  • The challenges you observed.
  • Some other ways they could have approached the same situation
  • What you recommend doing differently moving forward.

Through this approach, you set the standard for what you expect and provide clarity around how to improve.

Start With The Positive

Even with context and the best intentions in the world, some sellers find it difficult to receive constructive feedback. Especially if they hold themselves in high-regard and don’t like for this to be compromised.

I have always found it helpful to kick-start any feedback conversation with some form of positive. Whether there is something good within the situation at hand or something impactful that the seller has done recently.

When you begin the session on a positive note, it helps the recipient to appreciate that you equally recognise their efforts. This creates a supportive environment from which it is easier to provide balanced feedback that considers strengths and areas for growth.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some matters which simply require well-articulated constructive feedback and that alone. But, wherever possible, seek to start the session on a positive note to give both sides the best possible opportunity to win.

Next Week: Harnessing Emotional Intelligence for High Performance

Next week, we’ll dive into the profound role that Emotional Intelligence plays in determining high performance. We’ll unravel why it’s a must-have attribute for every sales professional, and how it can enhance your team’s effectiveness, from understanding customer needs to fostering intra-team relationships.