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One way to teach an old dog new tricks

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

Joe was a production supervisor who’d been with the organization for 20 years, was proud of its products and thwarted every danged request from customers to improve those products.

When somebody would suggest an innovation, Joe would say, “We tried that, and it didn’t work.”

Basically a good man, with lots of experience, Joe was stuck in a rut. But when one of the organization’s best customers wanted Joe fired, here’s how Joe’s boss handled the situation:

He proposed continuing to pay Joe his salary but “lending” him to the customer for six months. Joe would work as a quality inspector at the customer’s plant. After six months, he would come back to his company as a customer representative, inspecting its products for that customer.

At first, Joe resisted. But after being told he’d have to take the new job or leave, Joe took the job.

At the customer’s plant, Joe learned to look at his beloved products from the customer’s viewpoint. And he realized that one of his “pet” products had grown obsolete. Another fit the customer’s needs poorly. A third product suffered from delivery problems.

When he returned to his employer, Joe warned his boss that the organization had to change or risk losing the customer’s business. He ended up being the best inspector the customer ever had.

So don’t ever label a veteran employee “hopeless.” You may be able to turn him around.

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