Friday, 30 May 2008

Cut out for the job?

Strange week this week, from recruiting a natural salesman on Monday to letting one go who should never have been taken on by my predecessor. The new hire has a presence, calmness and reassuring approach coupled with a steely determination and an instilled moral base. The vacating guy has none of these attributes - in fact the complete opposites in terms of personal makeup; and will just take his inabilities and problems with him to another sales position somewhere else.
I have the opportunity to conduct an exit interview on Monday and will try to counsel him to look for an alternative career, he simply is not cut out for the job. He has been in sales for six years with three positions in that time, why have these shortcomings not been spotted before? This poor guy has pretty much wasted six years of his working life in pursuit of a job role he can't do, why has no one cared to help him realise why before? He had been through the company sales training academy in the first six months with us and no one appeared to notice his inability to get the fundamental stuff right. What is it that makes managers believe they can recruit (particularly those new into the management role) It is probably the most important part of the people management task and paradoxically the area least well trained.
I'm sure this rolling problem is one of the reasons that sales as a profession has such a poor perception in the UK, guys like the one leaving my team keep getting hired by managers with poor recruitment training and the bad sales techniques are perpetuated. These failures cost companies and the economy billions in lost time and sales. Selling is one of the toughest choices for a career, why do so many people believe they can do it?

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

ethical business...

Interesting discussion with my boss today. We both agreed that there is no place for 'the black arts' of sales practice in our operation. He having seen it in action in other teams and taken steps to remove it prior to my arrival with organisation; and me seeing the results of such practices in some of the deals that have been done in my team over recent years... none of the practitioners remain in situ... Sales activities that are tantamount to fraud, doctoring of documents etc. All good and proper to have agreement on important moral and ethical issues like this... However, being economical with the truth appears to be OK for him... need for further discussion. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Inspired to get back to basics

Service in church tonight had a really simple structure - the leading by Tany (who improves every time she leads) and a steady older hand Brian just creating space to worship and pray and allowed the evening to focus on the sermon. Andrew, the minister preaching, was returning from a week out with a back injury. The message, on the Holy Spirit and the Bible, was so clear and inspiring. It was a call to the obvious for every Christian... to read the Bible... and the Holy Spirit's involvement.
Andrew should perhaps be laid up more often!

Friday, 23 May 2008

It's the economy... stupid

Politics is a funny old business. It has probably always been at the mercy of events and the current 'air pocket' type drop in popularity of the New Labour government and Gordon Brown in particular is certainly driven by events, but I think there is more at play here than just events.
There appear to be real parallels with John Major's Conservative government of '95 - '97 that seemed to run out of ideas after so many years of Conservative control coupled with too few cabinet members of genuine quality and vision. Brown's cabinet is equally weak in strong ideas people with genuine resolve... however the all pervasive eye of the media, and the perceived 'image' requirements the spin guys believe is required to front up to the media are a far heavier and concerning factor.
The influence of the fourth estate and equally the fact that media ownership is now concentrated in too few hands is to my mind the biggest danger.
The media dictate what the key issues are and politicians no longer control the agenda. The importance of what receives coverage and where in the story list issues fall (I was in media for over 15 years and have really seen how this has changed).
This week has seen the attractiveness of the sound bite dominate the story list with image stories - the merits of Gordon's appearance and demeanor and redecorating his kitchen and bathroom assuming higher prominence than the economy, abortion and parenting.
The by-election result last night was a predictable protest vote given the current global economic events and people's need for a pressure valve to let off steam about the higher costs of living driven by these events... The reaction in the press from left to right has been a like a feeding frenzy as they push to influence the removal of the prime minister. My political leanings are not towards the beliefs of Gordon Brown... I would however like the opportunity to vote against him in a general election and not have the politics of the country managed by a clique of media owners.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

intention and delivery

So, I thought... get set up and start blogging... interesting stuff happens to you everyday and how difficult can it be to stick some thoughts down daily... INTENTION.
Hmm, well my last post was on Sunday 18th and here we are at Thursday 22nd and i've just sat down... how bad is that at keeping the intention going!
The fact that I've had 3 days on the trot up at 5.00am with a drive to Bristol... I certainly shouldn't mention the one hour and twenty minute door to door trip last night from Bristol to Copythorne to watch Chelsea with a few CFC fans (we wuz robbed by the woodwork before the penalties)... I know I drive a Saab by didn't realise they had a wings function like their airplanes till last night! But this is diversion and obfuscation... I must get better at delivering a daily blog.

On Wednesday the management team had an update on Diversity policy and Equal Opportunities law.
We used a number of real case studies that were frankly quite frightening. In each case both the company and the manager concerned in the tribunal were found to have breached the law and the managers were found personally responsible and liable to the tune of up to £40,000 in awards against them! In one case it led to the manager losing his job and his house to pay the award.
On the face of things in each case, the managers had behaved reasonably and even 3 years ago would not have been held responsible... but the litigeous approach to life on the 'other side of the pond' is being reflected in the UK.
Over 50% of the case studies were examples of religious discrimination of muslims.
In the slides (inevitable death by powerpoint) Discrimination against Muslims, Jews, Seikhs were listed. I asked what about Christians? The answer? You can't discriminate against Christians can you? Hmm... I continued the discussion over lunch. The HR trainer, a well educated and quite persuasive lady could not see how in a 'Christian country' (she professed no faith but thought there was a God) Christians could be discriminated against in the workplace. We have real problems when global organisations (I work for one) employ folk to train their managers with these beliefs...

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Awesome praise and worship

Christians obeying Jesus and being baptised is, for me always, a special occasion... and tonite was no exception in the auditorium at the church we belong to in Southampton. There were very few empty seats and you could feel the Lord's presence as three friends, Louise, Isabel and Brian gave moving and real testimonies about what Jesus has done in their lives. I was leading the worship along with John, one of our ministers. It went well I think, Jo and a six piece band with three singers led by Phil were right on the money hitting a strong groove for all of the songs which enabled the worship to meet the 'our utmost for His highest' goal that we sometimes achieve...

Tony Watkins, one of our regular preachers opened a new series on the Holy Spirit, with a well structured and engaging evangelistic presentation based on John 3. He managed to plug his Macbook into the lectern and make it work... which is food for though for future presentations I do there... keynote is just so much better than powerpoint for slide work.

Jesus does amazing things in peoples lives... Praise the Lord!

Thursday, 15 May 2008

First blog... Really felt a part of the company I joined at the end of January, for the first time this week. Just taken time to get used to the culture change I suppose. Having come out of 7 years driven by the demands of a global Japanese corporation the expectations of a global French operation are well... different. Toughest thing to get used to is having more time and a far slower pace... It's great, I think!Spent most of today recruiting for a sales vacancy. This is the third day of interviews and have seen some interesting candidates. It's a fairly complex process these days needing to balance team dynamics, ability to do the job and staying this side of legislation that appears to change on a daily basis. Have shortlisted a 53 year old bloke and a 27 year old girl... so they can't say I am not complying with the diversity stuff!
Spent a couple of hours in the early evening with Andrew, one of the ministers at our church going over planning for training courses over the next few months. He has a fabulous sense of humour... I look forward to time with him and know I will always leave our meetings with a smile on my face.Typing this whilst watching a terrific DVD called 'into the wild' directed by Shaun Penn... well worth a look.