“You are inheriting our company’s worst-performing Branch. Your sales guys are all quite good, but the team has been performing badly because of your two Assistant Managers. Not only do these old bandicoots create all kinds of trouble, they also demotivate their juniors. They are big liabilities on our company,” the General Manager told the newly appointed Branch Manager who was taking charge on the first working day of the year.
The Branch Manager asked, “If they are that bad, why haven’t they been told to either correct themselves or quit their jobs?”
The GM replied, “They’ve both worked with our company for over 20 years. They worked very well in the first 12 years or so, but after that, as our sales and our staff strength grew, they started misbehaving for some reason. If we take any strong action against either or both of them now, the other employees will feel that we exploited them in the early years and are now dumping them because they’ve slowed down with age. Anyway, I wish you good luck in handling them!”
The Branch Manager was an open-minded person. He decided that he would not allow himself to be prejudiced by the GM’s feedback. Within the first few days, he realized that both the AMs, who had no professional qualifications, were frustrated and insecure about the fact that their career growth had slowed down considerably since the company’s ‘professionalization’, resulting in their having to work under professionally qualified bosses who were younger than them. While he couldn’t immediately do anything about this situation, the Branch Manager decided he would try to reduce their frustration and insecurity. During personal and group interactions with them, he gave them implicit but unmistakable signals that he genuinely valued and respected their experience and seniority.
After initial skepticism, the AMs responded positively. They worked sincerely and did not “create all kinds of trouble” as they used to earlier. They started participating enthusiastically in the weekly review meetings instead of sulking silently as they used to in the past. This had a very positive impact on the other members of the team. For the first time, the team started working unitedly.
By the end of the year, not only had the Branch achieved the year’s sales target, they had surpassed it by 50% to become the company’s best-performing branch! All because the new Branch Manager had chosen to be open-minded, not prejudiced!