Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Magic of Truthfulness

Imagine you work for a company that's about to terminate you. Not such a hard thing to imagine these days. It's an odd scenario in this case, though, because you're told that your job will be over in three months. Yes, you'll be fired then, but in the meantime they ask you to keep working for the three months, attend the upcoming National Sales Meeting, and not leave until the end of the year. And oh, by the way, keep growing the business in those last three months! 
I was the speaker hired by my client, Manny Gerolamo, Nat'l Sales Manager, to address his pharmaceutical sales and leadership team at their final Nat'l Sales Meeting.
In over three decades of corporate seminar speaking, this was one of the most unusual requests I'd ever received.
My first question to Manny was: "Will anyone even be there?" But I didn't know then about "Manny's Magic."  Here's what he did, and here's what happened.
First, Manny informed everyone of the facts -- the cold, hard, disappointing facts. The conditions people signed up for the year before had dramatically changed. The parent company had chosen a different direction and the promises they had made to the sales team couldn't be kept. Yes, the team had achieved every sales objective required of them. Yes, their mission had been very successful. But tough luck, they would be turning the sales effort over to the parent company. Game over. 
Second, Manny informed his team that if they stayed on for the three months till year's end, and got good results, they could earn a big bonus. During that time he would help them, wherever possible, to find new employment. He'd provide support, counseling and even some special training materials (my "Build a Better You" CD series for example) to help them cope and stay positive during the transition.
Third, Manny asked them to leave their loved ones for three days and attend the upcoming National Sales Meeting in San Antonio, Texas. There they would be recognized for their past successes and trained in the new programs for the "final quarter." They would join their fellow team members for one last group hug, a few laughs and a lot of tears. 
Now what would you have done if you had been one of those team members? Would you have gone to San Antonio just to vent your anger, frustration and bitterness? Would you have contacted your customers and bad-mouthed the company? Or would you have quit and begun job hunting immediately?
As I stood on the stage at the Hyatt Regency in San Antonio that September morning, it was magical. There were  200 people, over 97% of Manny's team members, all sitting in that audience -- smiling, laughing and so excited about their last few months together.
What made that happen? Manny Gerolamo was the single most important factor in their decision to stay.  He had earned not just his team's respect, he had earned their TRUST. He told the unvarnished truth from day one. And he offered them the opportunity to be paid a bonus if they fulfilled their commitment to the company, a company that was going to terminate them. It was "Manny's Magic!"  
Here's what you can do to use Manny's Magic in your career:
1. Tell the truth -- even if it's not good news. Tell it like you see it. Be known as a truth teller. Be known as a person who can always be believed!
2. Offer people an incentive if they are willing to go above and beyond. Reward the high achievers!
3. Don't underestimate the goodness of most people, who deep down want to do the right thing, because it's the right thing to do! In a business world that is often drowning in greed, dishonesty and self-interest, it's thrilling to know there are still great people out there, willing to do difficult things, and do them with courage and grace! 
Remember: Success Comes in CANS, Not in Cannots!  
MAKE it a great day!