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The 8th Place Trophy

OK, I am not exactly certain how to start this because it encompasses so many different areas, so I will just start with this...People want to know what's happened to America in the business world.  How did we go from the leading competitive country in the world to 7th place in 3 years?  As Bill Murray would say, " That's a fact Jack!"  I'm not going political here...its worse than politics.  

 You see somewhere around the mid eighties it became fashionable to give a trophy for just trying...for being part of the team.... for finishing in 8th place.  We all saw it happening...Johnnie got trophy for playing on the soccer team that finished last.  Why?  So his feelings wouldn't get hurt?  So he wouldn't feel bad?  That is crazy... So what has this lead to? It has lead to a workforce that only goes so that never goes beyond what is asked of them.   What I've noticed is that in many of the businesses I work with it has resulted in an attitude of , 'Well I've done my part...shouldn't I be recognized and rewarded for my efforts?"  The answer to this of course, NO!!!  You were hired to do a get paid to do the job.  Like Nike says, Just Do It!  You want more?  Do more...go beyond what is expected...then you will get recognized...then you will get rewarded.  In my world this is called a performance driven culture.

But wait, show me an example of this attitude Rainman.  OK, I will.  Look at the orthopedic / medical device industry.  For over two decades this industry was a driver of growth and it was populated with hard driving individuals where industry average was a synonym for not getting the job done.  I know what you are thinking.... but that was when the demographics favored explosive growth.  Not really, the baby boomers have just started to hit the age where these companies can expect growth from demographics.  NO... my contention is we have leadership that exemplifies the 8th place trophy model.  Its OK to be at market growth.  Its OK to do just what is expected.  Its OK not to strive...It's OK not  to out pace, out work and out perform.  The industry which was once such a performance based culture has been replaced with the mentality that OK is good enough.

The bar for acceptable performance in any sales driven culture is quota.  At quota you have done what is expected.  Exceeding quota gets you a bonus or extra commission or even a promotion ( if you want the cut in pay).  Leaders who expected this performance on a daily basis have  been replaced where exceeding expectations isn't expected.  Sales teams fail to hit targets and it seems OK...they tried but couldn't get it done. Everyone has a "reason"...a.k.a. excuse...let's blame the guy in the territory before me, instead of standing up and  taking responsibility for the performance. Instead of telling the sales teams...get it done or we will find someone who can get it done; the sales leadership gives them a pass.  They tried.  They are a good guy.  They are a good team mate.  They came close.  That's how you go from 1st to 7th in 3 years.  Just make sure you give them a trophy.

Reader Comments (1)

I could not agree more. People in our industry make far above average for their education and training, and we should expect to hire and choose people who will work harder, longer, and smarter than anyone around them. Look how easy it is to exceed the norm today just by doing a few things that should be standard behavior: Tell people exactly what you are going to do, do what you say are going to do, set clear expectations, and then exceed expectations. Why should stuff this basic actually set people apart? Because as The Rainman says, the bar has been set to low.

September 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterScott B

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