Trading Strength For Weakness
“Be careful what you wish for or you just might get it”. Sage advice, especially for the client below.
We all have strengths.
We also all have weaknesses.
What is lost on the majority of leaders prior to consulting with us is the fact that these are inextricably linked.
The bold leader who is so good at the big picture, typically does not have an eye for detail. The humanitarian that legitimately cares about everyone being taken care of will often let that get in the way of generating a result. The methodical planner can add so much control as to stifle vision. The objective driven top producer can often neglect the feelings of others.
You will not need to look very far or wide to find examples like the above but here is a recent one within a client of ours that we feel is highly relatable.
The company in question is a sales driven organization with an international presence. The leader of their sales function is charismatic & outgoing, the type of person most would describe as a “born salesperson”.
He is also 100% allergic to anything detail or process oriented.
90% of the time his behavioural attributes are a gift, they are a strength to the entire organization. He is able to bring in new leads, close clients and maintain relationships with ease. He has the unique instinctive gift to make everyone he comes into contact with feel as though they are the most important person in the world.
He also routinely neglects to enter any of his conversations into the company’s CRM, frustrating the operations team that services his business and angering his VP who must deal with the subsequent complaints.
It was on the heels of some of these complaints that this frustrated VP called us up and said, “I need you to convince this guy of the importance of getting his stuff* (not the actual word used but this is a family friendly blog) into the system.”
And therein lies one of the most universal, and ultimately destructive thought patterns in leadership today. I’ll explain why this is in a bit but for now let’s discuss how we actually approached a solution.
We attempted to caution the VP on the dangers of “forcing” this person to become better at entering his information, that our strengths and weaknesses were linked and that there would be a cost for this increased compliance that he was after.
He did not want to hear any of this. The complaints were so many, and had caused so much strife for him as VP that he was adamant that the sales leader needed to be taught how to give ops what they needed in the manner in which they needed it and he would gladly accept whatever cost resulted as this issue had simply grown to be too big.
We requested permission to come up with two plans; one that was exactly as the VP had requested, but also an alternate, back-up plan in the event things went off the rails. He agreed and we moved forward.
Plan A was to do just as the VP asked; we used all of our behavioural wizardry to “convince the guy of the importance of getting his stuff into the system”. We took him through some behavioural reprogramming, anti-procrastination training, helped make him mindful of how, when and why to record his activities and much to the delight of his ops team, the information made its way into the system.
It was great, a total win…except for the fact within 30 days his normally consistent sales figures dropped off a cliff.
Which brings me back to the aforementioned destructive thought pattern of needing to “show the guy the importance of entering his information”. Statements like this imply that the person was too slow, ignorant or uncaring to understand what the VP was after in the first place.
“The guy” never questioned the importance of the CRM or of his ops team having a tool to make them better at their jobs. He simply did, nor does he currently, have the muscle to be able to do this effortlessly. All of the extra effort it took him to do something that he was not naturally inclined to do robbed him of the ability to sell from his natural state. He was so conscious of filling out the forms in his mind so that he did not let others down that his approach became robotic, cold and slow. He had become a serviceable data recorder but a pretty weak salesperson.
The drop in sales created enough new pain for the VP that he agreed to let us institute the “back-up” plan. We ran a process we call Save/Send/System. We had the sales leader write down everything he needed to do to complete his job, including all the data recording that he was not good at. We had him give each task a “joy factor” rating from 1-5 with 5 being the most enjoyable task he could think of.
His “new job” was to only ever do 4 and 5 rated tasks, but go do more of them (SAVE). We then behaviourally typed everyone else in the organization to learn their strengths. We took all of the 1-3 rated tasks and gifted them to those who based on their behavioural strengths would have rated these tasks a 4 or a 5 (SEND). With everything that was left over we looked at the workflow processes to determine if these tasks even needed to remain. Many we were able to eliminate, those that we could not we found ways to automated through some very inexpensive apps and a bit of workflow reimagining (SYSTEM).
Within a few months, not only were sales actually higher than they were before, and the information where it needed to be, employee satisfaction across the entire organization had risen as well. People were doing more of what they wanted to do, which made them happier and there is this really STRANGE phenomena that occurs when happy people work together…more work gets done.
So, the next time someone is doing something that drives you nuts, we encourage you to stop and think what they do that is amazing. You won’t need to look very far to see that the two are linked. Once you know that, you will become much more open to a more holistic solution as opposed to one that merely takes your immediate short term pain away.
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