This is a tale of a company at a crossroads. Innovation had stalled. Teamwork was anemic. It was a time of stagnation. Leaders wrung their hands over the ailing enterprise. So they issued a decree. “Hear ye, hear ye! Remote work is banned. All employees must return to the closest regional office.”
Extreme openness. This was the original intention of the open-office design. Breaking down walls would also break down barriers — everyone could exchange ideas throughout the day. The organization would realize a hyper-state of transparency where the best ideas would always win. But I bet you have experienced a different reality with this floor plan.
We are living in unsettling times. In 2016, you may have found yourself saying “What?!” out loud a lot. And I am betting that this year your knee-jerk response has become, “Now what?” But uncertainty in the world is nothing new. And it definitely is no stranger to business.
My friend Mary recently shared a recurring nightmare. It involved a twisted metamorphosis into a donkey. It was Disney’s fault — specifically, the film Pinocchio. You know, the scene where the mischievous boys transform into jackasses? It scared the heck out of her as a kid. But these days a different type of donkey haunts my friend.
Imagine that your job is to sell pencils. Number 2 pencils, to be specific. Your sales pitch is basic. “Classic wooden pencils! You can sharpen, write, and erase!” There is not much else to say. Sure, there is beauty in the pencil’s simplicity and utility, but some days it is a struggle to get excited about moving those units.
Public speaking. I have learned to really enjoy it and consider it an honor. I have done a lot of it over the last ten years. Although I do understand the anxiety some people feel looking at all those expectant faces. The nervous jitters or pressure to put on a show. But the audience is not that scary. They are just people like us. No, there is something else you should be afraid of that is related to presentations — it might surprise you at first.
There is a plague infiltrating your office. Sales? Already infected. Most of the other teams are sick now too. The symptoms make people act lifeless — paranoid thinking and nonsensical talk. You might even hear folks muttering, “We are behind.”
I was recently talking with a CEO who was having trouble hiring and retaining good people. He was considering opening new locations and adding a few remote workers. His thinking? More people. My thinking? More problems. Guaranteed.
“Do not bring me problems. Bring me solutions.” I am sure you have heard this mantra at work before. In most cases, the thinking is that problems will only make the boss look bad. Well, something looks bad all right — the boss’s “do not bother me” attitude. So what do you do?
“Clairvoyant Humanist and Life Consultant.” I got a LinkedIn request from someone with this “title” the other day. Well, I am no clairvoyant. But I can predict one thing. The offbeat title will raise eyebrows — as well as suspicion about this person’s level of professionalism.
Crazy quotas. Anything to close a deal. Pushing customers no matter the cost. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you already know how I feel about the traditional approach to sales. Customers have changed, yet the selling process has not. But here is a surprise — I am about to come to the defense of salespeople everywhere.