Archive for May, 2010


Management Rewards, Management Strategies, Sales Staff No Comments »


Dear Manager,

All of us of the human variety each enjoy incredible strengths. It is naturally much more comfortable to focus on these positives, as they are the areas in which we enjoy the most confidence, and those we hope others will notice and focus upon. Have we, as individuals and as organizations, maintained a priority for self-improvement now that our “formal education” may be no more recent than the last class reunion?

Personal growth, experience, and maturity certainly impact all of us. The question becomes: Is personal growth strictly a personal issue, or something that management should want, expect, and even demand from those they manage?

If we are to expect growth in others, we must also expect growth within ourselves. Similar to a commitment to exercise, all too often we allow this critical area to simply slide. We had intended to do more insightful reading, attend a seminar and class, or ask for consultative guidance, but life seems to be unfolding at accelerating rates. Perhaps many of us believe we have learned enough in school and on the streets. I am not suggesting that this is substandard. The question is, is it good enough?

With the current transitions in the world of business, will resting on your laurels of current growth service your future needs? I took some computer classes this past summer at a local community college. What an eye opener! Here were individuals committed to join the twenty-first century. Many were my age and older, often better prepared than I, taking their own steps in a new world. I left these classes shaking my head, not only in the limited knowledge I had grasped, but also in the amount of knowledge yet to be learned. I found it very humbling to re-enter an exciting world, one I had long forgotten.

I would be the first to admit that I could have done much more in the past thirty years relating to this issue. Most professionals simply accept the need to stay informed and to continue their education. For doctors, lawyers, accountants, or engineers, further education is understood as an accepted routine. Would you trust a doctor whose medical knowledge hadn’t been updated for ten years? Why isn’t a similar culture routinely accepted in American Business?

Once again, as managers, do we have the right to address personal growth issues with our staff? Do we have a right, as their employer, to expect them to accept responsibility for self-improvement? When these individuals were hired, it would be common for them to embellish their education, and areas of further education. This suggests their acceptance and understanding of its vital role to any profession. Should we not continue to expect more?

If in fact we have no right to expect a higher standard and continued growth, then the die has already been cast when the hire is complete. Effectively, we had better be damn good in the hiring process. In this scenario, we must assume that the current package “is as good as it is going to get!” More often than not, I believe this is truer than we would like to admit. How do we change this standard of mediocrity, in ourselves and in the assets we choose to manage? The current economic culture suggests the time is now!

Having now established the foundation, and the current deficiency, I would suggest that there are few of us, including those we manage, who could deny its significance. As always, the question becomes how do we turn idle conversation into a strategy that will affect change? I believe this comes with mutual participation, recognition, and a system that rewards individual efforts.


This is an ultimate truth, that all of us can relate to and accept on a personal “income growth” basis. Many of those you manage have achieved success beyond their wildest dreams. This would also suggest they may have become satisfied with their current standard of living. Complacency sets in, and a loss of rhythm relating to self-analysis and improvement follows. These individuals must now be convinced that they have only begun to meet their potential, and the worth you hold for them in the future. This must be accomplished in its most sincere form, as it is absolutely true.

There is an element of fear in all of us relating to what the future holds for business in America. We see the Generation X-ers with seemingly so many more tools to effectively maneuver and succeed in this changing climate. What seems so out of our element often seems rudimentary to this next generation. For many, the anxiety of being left behind is indisputable, and creates a very real sense of urgency to get caught up before it is too late. Certainly this creates a significant and authentic opportunity to not only make your point, but to take a stand.


Having benefited greatly from my recent experience back in school, I would suggest this is a very cost effective investment for you and your team. On a very reasonable budget, classes can be incorporated as one aspect of your company’s strategy and compensation package. I would not encourage you to simply roll out the checkbook, assuming full responsibility for their growth. You cannot force feed; you cannot want self-improvement for your staff more than they do. Perhaps your participation would include 50% to 75% of the tuition and books relating to approved courses, or reimbursement related to an acceptable grade. In some instances this might be a class that you and your staff could participate in as a team. Regardless, your objective is not only their participation, but also the buzz among the staff created by their enthusiastic participation.

As their manager, I would acknowledge those who participate to their peers. Certainly everyone would understand if these individuals were to be given favorable consideration should advancement opportunities become available. This was certainly part of the criteria when they were originally hired for their current position!

I am not suggesting that this agenda become an all out competitive assault. I am suggesting that we are all fighting for our collective futures in a whole new era of doing business. Either grow as individuals or fall further behind the national and international standards of what can be reasonably expected from a professional.


What do you hope to earn this year? What changes do you plan to make to accomplish this objective? On reflection, what areas would you change from last year’s efforts? What areas of personal growth do you plan to address in the next six months? What are your three and five year objectives? How might these objectives also assist in enhanced personal time? What can we, as an organization and team, do to assist in meeting these objectives?


To bring conclusion to a prior question, yes, as managers we have every right to assume and expect sustained and committed personal growth from our staff members. It is our only prospect for the continued growth and vitality of one’s organization and our individual and collective futures.

As managers, we all know the value timing plays in the success of any program or strategy we might pursue. There can be no greater personal reward than that of accomplishment. There can be no greater benefit than what you can bring to your organization and to each of your staff members on an individual basis. The time is right, the urgency is crystal clear; your future will be defined in the process.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2010. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM


Loss of Job, Management Rewards, Management Strategies No Comments »


Dear Manager,

There is no greater crisis for any manager than his or her own unanticipated termination. Having worked for myself sin
ce college, I realize I can’t fully appreciate or understand the feelings associated with this personal crisis. I recently helped a friend and business colleague work through this process, learning a lot about his feelings, anxieties, and the path he chose to a successful and fulfilling resolution. I’d like to share my perspective on a few of the lessons he learned along the way. It’s certainly much easier to read (and write) about this topic than it is to experience it firsthand!

My friend worked for a significant regional company in the Northwest, which had been purchased a number of years ago by a similar company based in another state. At that time, Phil (not his real name) assumed the role of General Manager for his division. It became very clear over a period of years that Phil had the talent and initiative to not only handle, but to excel in this role. It was also evident to most parties that Phil’s division would clearly outperform the division being managed by ownership.

Over a period of years, ownership became uncomfortable with Phil’s division’s position of strength and his exceptional competitive advantage over the company division. O.K., I can’t be objective any longer. Clearly ownership and their inflated egos couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Instead of using Phil’s talents as a model and resource for their own division, they began to impose greater control in order to trim the sails of their shining star! How is it possible that some owners don’t understand a good thing when it’s sitting in their lap? I also realize I was not privy to the day-to-day operations of this company, yet normally common sense prevails.

One had to assume, from a distance, that it was simply a matter of time for this issue to come to a head. After consistently poor performance in their “company-managed” division, ownership came to the conclusion that operating costs needed to be reduced. Phil was notified that his position would be eliminated. No one would have believed this chain of events had they not seen it unfold over a period of years, as I had.

Phase I

Disbelief, anger, bitterness and, at times, devastation; Phil experienced them all. Each few days brought its own set of emotions. I believe we would all first think of family, personal commitments, and responsibilities. The first phase always seems to lead our imagination straight down the path to the poor house. Why do we always seem to think in terms of “worst case scenarios” in our most difficult financial times? I found in early conversations, though, that Phil looked for indications of hope.

This early phase also seemed to be filled with “finding blame.” Phil felt his personal image had taken a shot, as would any of you reading this. In finding blame, it seemed easier to swallow, particularly if you can find someone other than yourself able to assume this role. After a few days, and from my purely non-emotional state, I suggested that Phil shouldn’t take this action quite so personally!

Yes, without question, ownership should have, could have; in a perfect world would have, taken steps to avoid this inevitable conclusion. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, and Phil was a casualty. Ownership eventually took actions to save the financial assets of the corporation, but it was too late for Phil. “Finding blame” serves no purpose other than wasting ones creative potential in finding a solution.

Phase II

In this scenario, I also believe there would be times of loneliness and solitude for most all of us. Society often defines us by our ability to contribute to family and self. We have all “bought in” to this mentality to some degree. I shared with Phil an honest and sincere level of confidence in his abilities and career potential. In fact, I’d often gone to Phil for advice with my own business challenges. I suggested he literally “ talk to himself,” creating a sense of self-confidence in his own advice. In other words, what advice would you give to a friend under a similar set of circumstances? The value in this effort is in its ability to take the raw emotion out of the circumstances. I suggested that I would certainly rely on his advice if I found myself in similar circumstances. It was time that he do the same. What would he tell me to do? Listen to your own words then follow their truth. Once the personal emotions are put in their proper perspective, we can proceed both objectively and effectively.

Phase III

This phase comes with acceptance of one’s own reality. With acceptance comes the very first stage of rebuilding ones confidence. This is also the stage in which I believe we are most vulnerable. In the search for confidence, it’s easy to accept alternatives that aren’t in our long-term best interests. Similar to personal relationships, we are vulnerable to the potential “rebound.” Some early indications of new opportunities came Phil’s way within the first couple of weeks. One day, Phil would be elated, confident, and relieved at his good fortune. Days later, optimism crumbled to disappointment when the opportunity wasn’t nearly what was understood at first blush. This roller coaster had seemed to take on a life of its own.

We discussed staying on task. Each day’s agenda would be directed toward his efforts to develop fact on which to base future judgments. While there was initial relief in finding potential opportunities, he also had to look well beyond the surface of each of these opportunities. His considerable skills would be in demand, and there would be many who would like to “take away the pain” and acquire his services at well below market value. The relief in finding a “new home” was certainly not nearly worth the price of selling himself short, or compromising his family’s potential.

I suggested this was finally an opportunity for Phil to take the time to chart his future, as compared to allowing fate to simply push him around. It was time to take back control. Rather than jumping at an opportunity, Phil clearly needed to take the time to make perhaps his last and most important professional career judgments. All options, all scenarios; all potential possibilities should now be objectively reviewed. It’s clearly better to make an informed decision from an inventory of ten choices than it is from an inventory of one!

Phase IV

As the opportunities continued to flow in, I found great pleasure in seeing Phil’s excitement and anticipation grow. This stage finally allowed Phil to realize that, in fact, this time of change might have been the proverbial “blessing in disguise.” Phil hadn’t been completely happy with his former set of circumstances, and had actually considered leaving prior to their decision. The key difference was the fact that it occurred on their timetable rather than his.

Phil has actually become grateful for what he calls the “kick in the rear.” He is on an anticipated fast track as he builds his own marketing representative company serving a number of manufacturers in his former industry. This decision seems to be a perfect fit, as it allows him to draw on prior experiences and contacts that will only serve to enhance this decision. These are uncharted waters for Phil, but as an objective observer, I have no doubt that he will succeed.

As I suggested earlier, I fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately) have never personally endured these circumstances first hand. I believe its greatest lesson is in moving beyond the emotions of the moment. In consulting your own inner voice, you might even find a new best friend in the process.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2010. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM