Hindsight is a powerful tool to add clarity to past mistakes and change them into future successes.
BY GUEST BLOGGER: Cindy Hensen
Do you ever reflect back on where you were a year ago? Or 5 years ago? Facebook, Instagram, and Timehop like to make sure we’re reminded of pictures or events. But do you ever stop to think, “Wow. A lot has changed, I never thought I would be where I am now.” This applies to personal or professional journeys.
Today's reflection is professional.
A year ago at this time, I was in Bangalore, India training 90 sales reps on how to become consultative salespeople for US based companies. Long story short… my employer at the time was going through an outsourcing project to cut costs. The objective was that a new team in India could be (cheaper) "better" sales people vs. the existing US Team. I was plucked out of my cushy Channel Account Manager job and given the opportunity for a bigger title, a title I wasn't even sure I wanted. I heard, “Here’s the plan, go execute!” and with my optimism and loyalty behind the wheel, I jumped in wholeheartedly and committed to do my best. If I’m being honest, we were sold a diamond, but we got a cubic zirconia. I kept video diary of the process and told myself, “Review these in a year and reflect on what transpired”.
Well, guess what? I did! So here goes.....
I write this part from a 3rd person viewpoint. It's how I view the "me" of a year ago. Who I see in those videos is a passionate and loyal leader that was persistent in her belief that she could make a very challenging situation work. She also had a strong core team of experienced and enthusiastic professionals. In the months that followed, she was quickly realizing that this forced plan was not going to work. Transition is handled much better in slow, prescriptive and analytical steps. Abrupt change in the high performing sales team was going to be extremely risky for a company that was already in the RED and had been for many quarters. She took a stand. The original plan had to change and there was no time to waste. It was an insurance plan, a half-inflated life raft, that would at least give the team some hope and slow the inevitable.
In the 3 months that followed, the realization that the effort, time, and money spent on outsourcing, could’ve been handled by sourcing good people right here in our own backyard. People are people! When they are treated right, no matter the country or culture, they will work hard for you. Did our counterparts in India work hard? Absolutely! Are they the most gracious, respectful, and intelligent people you could hope to encounter? Undoubtedly! Does the typical American of today accept them as a consultative salesperson? Read that last question again. Then go look in the mirror. You don’t have to tell me your answer. Just be honest with yourself.
In the last several months, we have witnessed humanity take a huge turn. I don’t want to get too deep here, because that topic is exhausting and that’s an entirely separate blog. What I want to point out is that when a company doesn’t value and nurture the people they have, or take the time or investment to train new ones, they fail. We train people how to treat us. If you treat your employees poorly and view them as a number, they will not seek to reward you with extra work and motivation. They will work to achieve what they need for themselves, but not for the greater benefit of the company. (This also applies to how to treat your customers!)
A cohesive, collaborative, and supportive team is a strong and successful team. That example is set by Executive Leadership and people should be protected by Human Resources. Narcissism, bullying, and toxic work relationships are never the right example. If you are reading this, and you feel this way about your employer, I’m here to tell you it is never worth staying. I promise there is a better place for you.
So you’re wondering at this point… did it work out? For me, I can emphatically say that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. The half-inflated life raft represented being set up for failure. I recognized it, owned it, and knew what the outcome could be. I was not going to give up, and I stood up for my people, myself, and what I believed in. I spent 10 years building a successful career at a company that had no problem pointing the finger when things didn't go as planned. It’s business, it happens! How you use what you’ve learned to take you on your next professional journey is the single most transforming thing you can do for yourself. I sought out the company I wanted to be part of based on how they treat their people. I landed in an environment where loyal, open, supportive, brilliant and HAPPY people achieve true eminence together.
Go find your place! Don't settle.
“The older I get the more I understand that so many people live in circumstances they can’t control, or in places that just don’t feel right to them. That feeling of being different is really what makes us the same. We have our own struggles, yet we want the same things. We want human connection, a place to feel at home, and pizza.
- Justin Timberlake