TWgroup editor Lucy HuxleyEvery manager knows that some staff respond better to a carrot and some better to a stick.

But if you use the latter, you need to be careful about how you employ it to retain respect and support while ensuring that the direct approach achieves its end goal.

An email from Co-operative Travel boss Mike Greenacre seen by Travel Weekly this week clearly shows he believed the time for niceties was over when it came to urging staff to sell the Co-op’s in-house tour operation.

But the reaction of some agents to the email suggests the hardline approach did not have the desired effect on them. These staff say they find it difficult to marry up the Co-op’s history of customer-centric independence with a no-holds-barred demand to sell in-house.

There’s no doubt that the pressure is on this year. Demand isn’t exactly the strongest, and a brand new tour operation could be a tough sell to some clients.

But is the issue really down to underperforming staff?

Perhaps some agents are simply uncomfortable with directional selling. Or maybe the teething problems faced by the operation after its launch had a more lasting effect.

Greenacre deserves considerable credit for apologising to those offended by his email. But while he is sure those initial issues have been ironed out, clearly there are still some staff who need to be persuaded.

The apology is one step towards getting frontline staff back on side. But what some still need is confidence that the product they are being told to sell is right for their customers.