Have you ever attended a delightful meeting? I recently presented a program on how to hire great salespeople to the New York Press Association. What a great group of talented professionals. That they were so talented reminded me of another group of talented professionals that I worked with when I was in the oil business. If you want to hire and keep talented professionals working for you, there are many things you should do. There are also some things you had better never do. Here’s one of them.
I was at an annual sales meeting where the top salespeople were honored. Each one was called to the stage and given an award by the Vice President of Sales. After the top ten salespeople got their award, seven more people were called to the stage. Not knowing why they were called to the stage, they were thinking it was something good. Were they mistaken.
The Vice President of Sales proceeds to call the name of the first salesman. He comes forward. The Vice President proceeds to give him a rubber chicken. Each salesman’s name is called and each one is given a rubber chicken. At the end the Vice President announced, “Here are the bottom salespeople who didn’t make their goals this year.”
Are you horrified?
That meeting was a disaster. When the ceremony was over, there was no talk about the winners that night. All anyone could talk about were the rubber chickens. Everyone was shocked that a senior manager, a leader of a large team, would think it was appropriate to humiliate employees in front of their peers.
So now you know what never to do when you want to motivate and inspire your employees. Humiliation is never a motivational strategy. It’s a recipe for disaster.
If you’re still appalled at what happened to this Vice President, you’ll be pleased to learn what happened later on.
He had replaced a beloved Vice President, one who the customers as well as the employees adored and respected. The previous vice president was so respected that his customers did million dollar deals with him on a handshake. Does he sound like the kind of guy who would give anyone a rubber chicken? Hardly.
When this beloved vice president retired, management invited all his customers to contribute money for a retirement present. Did they respond! Enough money was collected to purchase a $40,000 pick up truck.
When Rubber Chicken Vice President retired, there was the same invitation to donate money for his retirement. Some customers never bothered to reply. Others–several in fact–taped one penny to the letter and mailed it back. They were sending a message. Management never got enough money to buy him an appropriate gift so they didn’t get him anything.
Looking back at the amount they collected made me realize that they did have enough money to buy him a gift. They could have bought him a rubber chicken. Too bad they didn’t.