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Changing a Losing Culture - Tough Love with Mike Singletary...

Let's say you're the new VP of Sales for ACME, Inc.  You've inherited a culture that isn't focused on results (actual sales results), but to make matters worse, really isn't focused on providing service to customers either.  The end result?  You've inherited a team that doesn't have a sense of urgency in any area, and the results (both sales and customer churn) show it.

So, you come in.  You're the new leader, and while you work with the team on how to close deals, you communicate to the team that everyone needs to respond to a customer call or email within 24 hours, even if you are simply telling them you've received their message and are working on their issue.  You're trying to instill a little work discipline into a team that hasn't had it in the past.  You're thinking that even though the sales results aren't there, if the team starts displaying the right habits with the little things, they've got a chance to turn it around.

After you communicate that policy, one of your most talented sales reps decides it's not important to return 3 or 4 customer calls, and after a few days, those calls get escalated to you.  While the rep is talented, their sales results have been poor as well.

What do you do?  You're in a turnaround situation, and you need to make sure everyone knows your way of doing things isn't optional.  Do you bring that sales rep in and coach him?  Write him up with a warning?  Move him out of the company?

If you're Mike Singletary, new coach of the San Francisco 49ers, you tell him to leave the building, adding that the team will be better playing shorthanded for the foreseeable future.  Check out the video below of Singletary in a press conference on 10/26/08 with classic "Change the Culture" action and language to get the attention of an underperforming group (email subscribers click through for video).

What would you do?  Regardless of your take, you've got to love the passion of Mike Singletary, new manager for the ACME San Francisco 49ers organization.


Chris - Manager's Sandbox

Great post, Kris! I think he made the right the call. It's tough to change a deeply ingrained culture like that.

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