How to Manage a Prima Donna

Most sales managers I know have a love-hate relationship with the prima donnas on their sales teams. They love the star player’s passion and hard work. They hate the self-centered behaviors that demoralize or discourage the rest of the team.

This puts the sales manager in a quandary. If they come down too hard, the prima donna may pack his/her bags and leave. But a simple truth in sales management is that what you don’t confront, you condone. And what sales manager wants to send a message to their team that the self-interest of a prima donna supersedes team-interest?

To change the environment that created the prima donna, start by making a list of specific inter-personal “success attributes” that you would like your entire team to adopt. (Hint: think about what you don’t like in the prima donna, then write down the exact opposite!)

Share this list first in a one-on-one meeting with the prima donna. Explain that you’d like him or her to take a leadership role in adopting these behaviors as an example for the team. (Don’t worry that he or she will see through what you’re trying to do! People with bad attitudes don’t usually recognize it in themselves.)

Then discuss the list with the rest of the team, and provide feedback/coaching on them regularly. Now, that’s Sales Management Leadership!

Kevin Davis

Kevin F. Davis is the author of The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness”, which was named the 2018 Axiom Business Book Award Winner, Silver Medal. Kevin is also the author of Slow Down, Sell Faster!”.