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Frustrating organisational habits must be tackled at all levels

I found myself thinking today about my time in HR with an IT company – and how leaders can undermine company profitability as well as engagement without realising it.

I was remembering Dan, a very capable sales rep who was strong at building long-term relationships with key customers. He was working on an upsell with an important customer that was more profitable and would tie them in longer term.

However, this company suffered from ‘quarter end syndrome’. The pressure to meet the quarterly targets would build into a last-minute panic to bring in sales – and discounts would be easily negotiated. Everyone played the game – including our sales reps and the more savvy customers.

Dan was different. He understood what drove sales quality and not just quantity, and he also understood what his customers wanted and needed. However, his sales manager responded to the pressure from his VP of sales to meet the quarterly target at all costs and told Dan to close the inferior sale.

No-one listened to Dan. Sadly, this conversation was an exit interview.

What’s this got to do with HR?

Everything. Culture, leadership, management, engagement, reward …

This business problem had to be tackled at every level, by strategic partnerships as well as operational – helping senior leaders as well as managers to take a more considered, mature view of what really delivers results for all stakeholders.

What’s the most frustrating organisational habit that you see in your organisation?

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