When I was first promoted to management, I had to make a very difficult decision.
I had been the best salesperson on the crew, and Bud was number two. He and I vied for the management job, and the fact that I got it meant that he had to report to me.
This irked him.
So, when I recruited, trained, and launched the careers of new salespeople, Bud found a way to poke holes in their boats, to slow them down, to discourage them from challenging his sales supremacy.
In essence, my new people never made a credible challenge to his informal leadership.
He lorded over them, mostly nonverbally, with cold stares and by invading their work areas. I firmly believed he was trying to make himself look good by keeping them down.
And, I sensed his notion was if he could destabilize my leadership, by making it appear that I wasn't doing a good job of staffing, training, and motivating, he'd step into my job, sooner or later.
This was intolerable, and in the privacy of my office, I set forth my observations, with a challenge that he had to pick up his sales and stop torpedoing my crew.
He denied everything, calling me paranoid, and effectively, he left in a huff.
Later that evening, my boss called for our sales numbers, and after hearing how paltry they sounded, I explained what had happened, and why. Boldly, I asserted with Bud out of the way, our overall sales level would rise.
His cold reply: "Well, I just hope you're right."
One way or another, I made it right, and our sales surpassed all previous highs. As far as I'm concerned, Bud, who had been the top producer, was keeping sales down, and for expectations to rise, for new and better producers to come forth and assert themselves, he needed to be out of the picture.
Look at your crew. Who is the leader?
Ask two questions:
(1) Can I afford to lose him?
(2) Can I afford to keep him?
Consider this homespun saying: You never want to tie a rabbit to a cow to see how fast the rabbit can run.
Look again at your salespeople: Who are the rabbits, and who are the cows?
Dr. Gary S. Goodman, President of www.Customersatisfaction.com, is a popular keynote speaker, management consultant, and seminar leader and the best-selling author of 12 books, including Reach Out & Sell Someone® and Monitoring, Measuring & Managing Customer Service. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, worldwide. A Ph.D. from USC's Annenberg School, Gary offers programs through UCLA Extension and numerous universities, trade associations, and other organizations in the United States and abroad. He is headquartered in Glendale, California, and he can be reached at (818) 243-7338 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org