September 23, 2015
As we drive, we use gears to move ahead. Slowly at first, then more rapidly and easily. As we succeed, we use gears to move ahead too.
Each Success Gear has a corresponding Leadership Gear designed to meet the needs of “succeeders” in that gear…
Today, most of us spend most of our time accelerating in 2nd Gear (the more-better-faster-cheaper gear). And most of our managers are accelerating there with us… unless something unexpected occurs.
Peak moment, peak loss
Bob had just returned from Pharmco’s convention, where he was invited to speak on “How to Be a Successful Sales Rep” and appointed to the President’s Council. Bob and his wife Ellen finally felt secure enough to start a family and had just received the long-awaited call: Ellen was pregnant. But weeks later, Pharmco lost its contract with SMB, a major healthcare provider. The loss was over profit margins and had nothing to do with how well Bob was servicing their account.
Instead of backing their loss out of Bob’s next year’s numbers, management simply tacked on the usual 6% increase. Bob was staggered. He would have to produce a 31% increase just to make plan! Bob tried talking to his boss, but Howard accused him of having a bad attitude. That really stung! Bob had always been seen as “positive and resilient.” In fact, those were the words managers included in past performance appraisals.
The next twelve months were tough. Bob had always felt valued when he was exceeding expectations. But now he was upper management’s personified message: No matter who you are, or what you’ve done in the past, you have to increase your sales 6% each year. Or else.
Bob was making steady progress, but Howard kept delaying his performance appraisal. When they finally met, instead of reaffirming Bob’s hard work, Howard said, “Unless you start getting the job done, we’ll be forced to find someone else who can.”
It was time for the convention again. But this time, Bob didn’t walk away with all of the prizes; in fact, he didn’t get any. And most devastating of all, this year’s top sales rep only exceeded plan by 10%… not 31! Weeks later, Bob was offered a job with a competitor. And despite lingering feelings of loyalty, he accepted it, eager to find a company that would be loyal to him too.
Their loss was a competitor’s gain
How would responsible leaders have behaved? As soon as they found out about the SMB account, they would have asked Bob to meet. “Bob, we just found out that we lost the SMB account due to pricing. We know this is going to affect you and Ellen profoundly. “SMB? Whew, it sure will. What happened?” asked a stunned Bob. “We simply couldn’t make the price point they insisted on. But we don’t want it to hurt you. We would like to help you lay out new plans and goals for the upcoming year.”
That support would have been great, but it didn’t happen. If it had, Bob would have reached his goals and taken home a top award. Even if he hadn’t, he and Ellen would have felt good about his company! Instead they lost Bob to a competitor who gave him the support he needed and (with his inside track on Pharmco) Bob soon became number one in their company.
Unfortunately, millions of valuable employees are being lost because companies fail to understand the crucial shift leaders need to make at times like these… from the 2nd Gear of Leadership back into 1st Gear.
Will your leaders have the skills they need to support you?
Or will they force you to move on and take the experience and inside-information you’ve gained into the open arms of a competitor who is all-too-eager to take away a significant chunk of their business? And knowledge-base?