Open-minded

“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!

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27 thoughts on “Open-minded

  1. 🙂 It is years since I heard the word bandicoots!
    I remember at the beginning of my career, we had a couple of guys in our office – no educational qualifications, but would do their jobs very efficiently. One of them was so smart, he was encouraged by our CEO to study and four years later, went on to head one branch.

    Heart-warming story, Pro. Thanks for sharing!

    • ‘Bandicoots’ was an oft-used word till about a decade back.
      Your CEO is a good example of an open-minded person, at least in this instance. There are quite a few cases of not well-educated good performers being encouraged, sometimes sponsored, by their employers to study and rise in the organisation.

  2. The GM did convey the right message to pre-warn the new Branch Head about the +s and -s
    in the branch more particularly on the matter of the ‘two old frustrated bandicoots’. In the course of my initial stints in the industry both at Mumbai and later at Delhi I did encounter such situations and by adopting the same attitude could get the best of the oldies who have enough to contribute and they do when properly handled with care!

    • The GM’s advice was helpful to the new Branch Manager, but only because he added his pinch of salt (open-mindedness) to the advice.

      Getting the best out of all team members individually and collectively is the job of a leader. As they say, different strokes for different folks!

  3. Good one!! I wish people would apply this in their everyday life as well..
    Open-mindedness is what we need, its what will bring about change ..

  4. What’s inspiring here is the fact that the new Branch Manager valued people genuinely. He tried to find out the root cause of the issue before being prejudiced about the AMs. Thanks for sharing this post, Pro 🙂

    And thanks again for taking time to visit all the posts and commenting on them 🙂 Means a lot for upcoming bloggers like me 🙂

    • We should make our own assessments about persons and situations instead of relying solely on the assessments of others, because others could be prejudiced in some way.
      Your blog posts are very enjoyable reads!

  5. The experienced employees always can be handled well by giving them utmost importance. The Manager did the right thing. Ego should not come in the way of handling them. Nice story.

    • I think it’s about everybody giving everybody else due respect. In this case, the boss gave due respect to the Assistant Managers’ age and experience, while the Assistant Managers realised that their new boss commanded respect.

  6. It was a good decision for the branch manager to give it a fresh impetus and not getting bogged down by the usual feedback. In the face of new challenges, new perspectives often help..

  7. The really impressive thing about this incident is the fact that the Manager refused to be influenced by a pre-existing opinion. What integrity and professionalism! Hats off to him for that. Honestly, what he did is what can be done in any relationship, isn’t it? Most often, we choose not to take that path. I generally give people the benefit of the doubt, but I have been guilty of judging people based on hearsay. Wonderful write up.

  8. It’s amazing how one can persuade people to change. I saw this when had a few men – several years older and bandicootish 😉 who had to report to me. The power of open communication and making people feel that their knowledge and skills can make a difference works wonders!

  9. that’s the true mark of a leader…not letting yourself be influenced by the opinion of other people… well written!

  10. Hmm in here, my O post was also on open minded and my N post on No. I am so happy for this #atozchallenge for the blogs I have come across, all I have learnt and all. Indeed, it keeps me more open minded than ever!

  11. The new branch manager valued the seniors and with a Midas touch turned them into performing employees . wish every human understands this. As the management guru , Peter Drucker rightly said that working with machines is far easier than humans. Humans exhibit emotions while machines accept human commands.

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