When helping isn’t…

By September 27, 2010 No Comments

Do you have a parent who retells the same story at any (every) opportunity? I’ve stopped hearing my almost 85 year old mother’s stories because I’ve listened to them so many times. So it was with great surprise and huge appreciation that I realized she was telling a new story (can there be such a thing?!) the other night at our holiday dinner.

She told a story about my Uncle Phil (who was 18 years older than) and my Uncle Zach. Uncle Zach died at 92, a few years ago. As it turns out, Uncle Phil had a successful pajama business. Uncle Zach, his little brother, had been accepted to college but he had to “earn a living” the summer before, and during, college. His older brother, Uncle Phil (are you with me?) hired him to sell pajamas. He gave Zach lessons on how to sell and a bunch of leads and Zach left ready to convert Phil’s leads into pajama sales. Unbeknownst to Zach, when he left the office, Phil called all the leads/friends he had given Zach. “Buy from Zach,” he said. “He is my youngest brother and a ‘college boy’ and you can cancel your order as soon as he leaves. Just let him think he sold you pajamas.”

When Uncle Zach got back to the office he was elated with his success, my mother said, because everyone he called on bought pajamas! He was so excited about his amazing ability to sell that he told my Uncle Phil he thought he shouldn’t go to college because he could make a much better living selling pajamas.

Now what do you say to that? How do you explain?

You don’t. You don’t get yourself into the position of so enabling another person they believe they can do something they can’t.

A client of mine hired a sales person based more on matching personalities than on the skills she brings to the table. She can’t sell pajamas (or whatever) unless she is helped, helped, helped along the way. And the client continues to support her both because she hired her, and also because the sales person is likeable and fun (like the DOS). The gift, however, would be to talk to the sales person, tell her the truth, train her on the skills she needs, and reduce force if she won’t learn.

It’s amazing how often we are our own worst enemy.

Your comments, please.

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