One of our sales executives is old school. He doesn’t know how to turn a computer on or what an email is. Although he has the highest sales record among the team, he doesn’t fit in with the brand culture. Wouldn’t such a personality be odd and confusing to customers and to the rest of the team?
LA: If three of the best organic free-range chickens were served to you on one big plate, shouldn’t that be a great gourmet meal? Well, stop drooling; the answer is no. When other ingredients like vegetables, rice and some gravy are missing a whole chicken farm won’t make a remarkable dish. It’s when all the different ingredients come together that customers get hooked. If all team members had the same personality and attitude, there would be no internal competition and no alternative perspectives, which means the company would not reach its full potential.
What matters is how you and your colleagues coexist internally and externally. Has he been ignoring the weekly meetings? Does he feel that product training is needless? Is he never present at the company’s open day activities? Does he give false or out of date information to prospects and customer? So what if he thinks that “Cut & Paste” is something one does in an art project! As long as he’s behaving within the characteristics of the brand then he fits in fine, and probably more so than any ‘new school’ employee who cheats or doesn’t believe in the company. Besides, if this computer illiterate is closing the highest volume of sales, maybe the rest of the team is the wrong fit for him…and that’s just my two cents.
I came across a business outside the country and felt the idea would work locally, but I prefer to start up the same concept on my own rather than becoming their representative or dealer. Is that copying? Would customers accept it?
LA: In the seventh decade of the 19th century Van Gogh, among many other artists in France, became crazed with Japanese culture and art. This influence is evident in his artwork. Nobody thought less of Van Gogh for being inspired by others. The art of Creative Thinking breaks down creativity to different levels. The well-known ‘original’ type of creativity is the one that hits you in the shower or when the idea fairy whispers genius abstracts into your right hemisphere. Another type is called ‘second hand creativity’, which is an idea born from an existing similar or different one.
Apple, for example, didn’t invent MP3 music players; Sony started the whole concept with the Walkman. However, Apple simplified it and added the software that changed the way we purchase and listen to music. Again, nobody thought less of Apple for being inspired by others. The keyword here is ‘inspiration’ not copying. Use the existing business you found as a source open to interpretation and modify it to suit your market. Knowing that your favorite automotive brand was in some manner inspired by Ford didn’t affect how much you love it because it’s not a copy of Ford…and that’s just my two cents.
If you were not in a business of sensitive nature, would you hire a candidate with a record of a criminal misdemeanor?
LA: There’s a fundamental reason why no human being can be hanged twice. The first sentence causes the defendant to die so the second sentence is defunct. The law gives one punishment per crime. Society, however, has the tendency to treat every person who committed a crime or a misdemeanor with a guilty-for-life attitude. How many times should a person pay for the same wrong act? That doesn’t mean you should hire a thief as your next cashier; although it’s possible but most likely no one would allow it. If the candidate had a record for armed robbery, for example, your Human Resources might not be thrilled to hire him as the warehouse chief security guard, even though someone could find it a good idea since he knows what to look for, but that might be too out there for most companies.
You can take a completely different perspective on this subject. One can argue that people who went to prison for a short time understand and appreciate the value of being free and independent more than many others who take their freedom for granted and can relatively easily find new job offers. Therefore, the ex-convicts might be more committed to keep their job and more grateful for the opportunity. If your company doesn’t offer any person with a misdemeanor a job and neither did other companies, how do you expect these candidates to improve their lives without doing something worse or going to the Government for social support? As long as the candidate went to jail for something irrelevant to the job position, there’s no practical reason why they shouldn’t they be hired for any position they are suitable for.
Don’t worry about customers’ reaction. Flip it to your advantage and make a PR campaign of it saying that you open the door to many ‘rejects’ to show the market what a great leader and how humane your company is. Be wise and merciful…and that’s just my two cents.
For Loaay Ahmed’s advice on business or work matters, send a short email to [email protected]. Please note that only the questions chosen for publishing will be answered.
Loaay Ahmed is a management consultant and strategic expert. To learn more about Loaay and his consulting service, strategic business therapy, visit knightscapital.com.