When you get out of bed, do you tell yourself, “I get to go to work today”, or do you tell yourself, “I have to go to work today”? Some of you probably do not want to get out of bed, and I feel for you. I hope that everyone has the opportunity to work for an organization at some point in their career where you feel the honor of “getting to go to work.” That says an awful lot for those organizations and their cultures!
I have been fortunate for most of my almost 40 year working career that I had the privilege of getting to go to work. I will admit there were several days, with more than one organization where I had the mindset that I “had to go to work”. In many of those cases, I knew it was time for a change for something better.
My career was in sales and sales management. I enjoyed working with customers. Being a competitive person, I enjoyed the competition. I enjoyed the strategies and positioning. Most of the time, I enjoyed the traveling and getting to see places that I may not have had the opportunity to do so otherwise. But there were times it felt like drudgery too.
There are some common factors in making the days feel like drudgery when they did. There were times when I did not feel appreciated at all. There was a great lack of empathy for the amount of time it took to travel and influence many groups of people to get to the point of winning a project. I sold things that had long sales cycles, sometimes as long as three to five years. Those projects represented a lot of trips, influencing, and positioning. Sometimes a lot of work could go up in smoke in an instant. Sometimes the hard work was undone by people within my own organization. One of my favorite quotes is from a Harvard business school professor: “The purpose of business is gaining and retaining customers.” It does not get much simpler than this. I have always felt that anyone can sell something once. Proof of success lies within repeat business. I have worked with too many who did not realize the value of a customer and did not realize that customers pay their salary. With one organization I was told to my face by customers how much they loved working with me and my products. They told me I was there through good times and bad. I helped get them through the bad times, especially ones we helped create. I was also told that they “hated” every single person they dealt with in our main office. I never attempted to distance myself from our main office, because we were one organization. I also knew that I would probably have to leave at some point to protect my personal reputation and eventually did.
I vividly remember a meeting with another organization where we were attempting to create a prioritization system for projects. I was extremely disappointed by a manager of engineering who stated that his team did not have time to read specifications. He wanted to prioritize which specifications to read strictly by the number of pages. My job, and the job of those in sales under me, was to influence those specifications and get things written that would help us successfully bid projects. He did not care. All he knew was his people did not have time to read specifications. I asked if he would rather his people read a thin specification that had everything in it favoring our competitor, or a thicker specification where we successfully got everything written that would help our cause. He chose the thinner. I could not believe how myopic and unempathetic he was being. His team’s time would be much better spent reading those specifications, and only those that were positively influenced were in our favor. He did not understand this. I recommended that he hire more people to read desirable specifications and possibly invest in speed-reading courses too. He and his team went home to their families each night. My team and I spent most of our time on the road, away from our families, attempting to influence specifications in our favor.
Most problems within organizations and culture come down to a lack of empathy for customers and co-workers and lack of communication. These issues can and must be addressed by training.
Luckily, I GET TO work now helping organizations overcome these issues through the proven methodology developed by The DiJulius Group. If you recognize yourself or your organization in any of this, please contact a CX Coach for help.