"I haven't the slightest idea how to change people, but still I keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out." David Sedaris
Years ago I was headed into a meeting with our CEO after having been tipped off by my direct "boss" that the meeting was about "yours truly" and the need to increase my sales. There were 5 of us in the meeting including my boss, our software developer and one owner who was on the phone. The meeting began with updates from everyone with again, "yours truly" going last. The CEO prefaced my remarks by saying "it seems that the only problem we are having is sales" and then gave me a chance to reply. The answer that I was to give was clearly in my mind pre-defined and obvious, "Yes, that is correct. The only problem we are having is I am not selling enough. Yada. Yada. Yada...I'll redouble my efforts."
Having been blessed with an alert that the meeting was coming I took a little time to prepare and used my PPO approach to such conversations. That is, I thought through my Purpose, Process and the Outcomes I wanted to create for the meeting. I committed to myself that I would not leave the meeting without saying 3 things all of which were related to the fact that I had deals signed and in hand that had not been delivered on time. When it came my time to speak I respectfully pushed back, gave my facts and expressed my unwillingness to sell more when we were unable to deliver what we had "on time". I thought continuing this process was harmful for both mine and the company's reputation in the market place. The CEO confirmed the facts I was communicating were true and it was clear to me that she was a bit frustrated that the meeting had not gone as she wanted. I sensed frustration and frustration with me. The meeting ended with our team being assigned the task to resolve the delivery and sales issues.
I would want you to know that this chief officer was a real class act and one of the "good guys". I like her. Later that same day I received an Instant Message to come down to her office when I got a break. I did. She said, "No one talks to me the way you did today...not even the other owners." "What do you mean?" I queried. "Well, typically I make my case and people recommit to whatever I have asked them to do and we move on. I was not expecting a reasoned disagreement and reply from you."
"May I be so bold as to tell you 'why'?" I replied. "Sure." "You are not easy to disagree with", I reasoned, "and even when people do disagree they likely do not voice it to you. Our meeting was intimidating to me and I wanted to give you the answer you wanted so we could all leave quickly and fairly unscathed. But, we would have been back in 4 weeks having the same conversation again but this time you would have been angrier. That would have been unfair to everyone in the room."
Our Team's Response
- Clear Goals: We focused on the results we were trying to achieve and added a non-"pie in the sky" timeline for delivery.
- Frequent Measurement: We answered, "What can we do NOW to get deals delivered the quickest so that they show up in our revenue the earliest?" We met every Monday and Friday to discuss progress and next steps.
- Consistent Progress.
Hey...life is here to teach us. Enjoy the journey!
Benefits of Gratitude Series
Benefits of Gratitude (1): Savoring Life’s Good Times
Benefits of Gratitude (2): Builds Self-Esteem
Benefits of Gratitude (3): Helps Us Deal With Stress And Trauma
Benefits of Gratitude (4): Encourages Good & Giving Behavior
Benefits of Gratitude (5): Builds and Strengthens Relationships
Benefits of Gratitude (6): Inhibits Keeping Up With The Joneses
Benefits of Gratitude (7): Deters All Negative Emotion
Benefits of Gratitude (8): Keeps You from Taking Good Things For Granted