About To Get The Booby Prize

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about award for lowest sales:

I work in a small financial institution. We are a mature group of people with many years of experience. We are all on 100% commission and all of us have a client base of our own. Those who have been in the business longer typically have more clients and simply manage what they have. I am the newest one in the company and I’m still at the “building stage”. But I am definitely not a rookie.A recently “self appointed” national sales manager has decided to obtain the phone reports on our office phone. He stated that he thinks business generation is directly tied to how many calls someone makes on the phone. Naturally, as the person with least amount of clients, my call log shows the least amount of calls. I work very hard and often use my cell phone anyway. He told me two weeks ago that I would be getting the “cupcake” award at the next company meeting for the least amount of phone calls. I asked him to re-consider his decision because I would be very humiliated upon being singled out like that in front of everyone. He said he didn’t ask for my opinion and he doesn’t want my opinion. The meeting is on Tuesday and I can’t sleep and I can’t stop thinking about it. I am dreading this. I keep planning how I will react, or maybe have a snappy comeback – but I’m afraid to make any sort of response now. By the way, making unsolicited phone calls to people is not part of the job process.

Signed, Wrong Number

Dear Wrong Number:

You have a right to be disgusted with your award-to-be. Rather I should say disgusted with your self-appointed national sales manager. In fact, I predict that the others of your sales crew–if they have even a little good sense, good will, and good character–will feel embarrassed to have one of their number’s sarcastic belittling their newest member. Apparently your self-appointed national sales manager (SANSM) gets his ego boost by putting others down; in an I’m ok; you’re not ok mindless insensitivity. So what might you do? You’ve already requested to no avail that your SANSM reconsider his cupcake award. You can play and replay this honor before it happens and after his has been bestowed. You can allow it to keep you awake, fester during the day and distract you for doing your sales work.

Your mind can be consumed with humiliation and discounting your worth. You were hired because of what you had accomplished and have to offer. You don’t have to be defensive to know that.There probably is no quick fix to freeing your self from such thoughts. It is like ordering your self to not think about a white unicorn. An order to not think of a white unicorn would draw your mind to it, just as for me to say, “Don’t think of a cupcake” will bring to mind a cupcake. Therefore, I suggest the opposite: Think cupcake. Devil chocolate or angel white. Cranberry or green. Yoke yellow or cobalt. Think frosting with sprinkles of pistachios and coconut. Think what you might say when it’s presented, “Thank you for this honor. I could wish this cupcake were my favor chocolate topped with a strawberry, but I’ll do my best to not get hooked on whatever it is.

Kidding aside, I know each of you is committed to doing all that you can to make our company do well, and so am I.” In short, playing this putdown has the potential of freeing you from it causing you pain. Or if you are not up to something playful, you might simply say, “Thank you, I’m sorry to take this honor from any one here. Thank you.” You know you are able to sell. You’re no rookie. You don’t have to apologize for being new to this company. You can bring your experience and heart to his institution. Go to sleep with that on your mind, and if it helps, count burned cup cakes until you fall to sleep. Can you see this incident as a problem-solving opportunity; one that helps you think beyond your ego to what I call wego? The motivation for selling in its most crass sense is money and big numbers beside your name. But the motivation for your financial institution, and I’m sure for you, is larger than individual ego. Of course it is to do well, but it also is to do good while doing well. So I leave you with a challenge: to add heart to what you do, in keeping with my signature sentence: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. My wish for you is to think beyond the cupcake to pride in being a member of a sales team that in turn is interdependent with the other divisions of your financial institution.

William Gorden