I had the opportunity to have lunch with Vince Thompson on an unusually warm, January Sunday in LA.
What I remember about working with Vince at Third Age Media was how energizing it was to jam on ideas about our challenges and opportunities and create our own reality about what we wanted work to be. Our upstart web-centric company had a unique culture because it had a social as well as a business mission and our president Mary Furlong fostered a collaborative culture that was very special. It was exciting to realize we were in the forefront of a new industry and let’s face it we were making our business up as we went along. Each Friday afternoon, we celebrated our accomplishments in what were known as “on the couch” sessions. TA was in a cool loft space on Howard Street right out of central casting; complete with a space that resembled a family room complete with beer and snacks comfortable chairs and of course a couch.
I greatly admire Vince’s work with Middleshift and his insights in his book Ignited!, When we get together we inevitably talk about the nature of work. For entrepreneurial types, the eternal quest is to find a great consulting gig or the elusive position with an enlightened company with a creative and supportive culture.
I regularly receive email notices from recruiters looking to fill VP Sales and General Manager positions in new media and technology companies and I have to say some of them are downright scary. Often the job descriptions are so brutally demanding that one wonders why anyone would want to take the job. There is an expectation that the person who is chosen to fill it will give up his or her life and first-born male child as well. They seldom talk about leadership or people skills or the company’s culture or character.
I recently hired a retired recruiter to evaluate my resume. I got an email asking me why I had taken positions at a lower level of responsibility than I had previously held, with a comment that blew me away; “did you have a drug problem?” I had been a general manager at two television stations and subsequently had taken a regional sales manager’s position because it enabled me to live close to my son. He had entered his early teens at the time and I thought it was important for both of us to be together often. We had lived on opposite coasts for several years and it was getting to be a strain. The recruiter’s response was not one of understanding at all. It was obvious she would have preferred I’d been on drugs instead. I said if a potential employer couldn’t understand me making a career sacrifice to be with my son, I would not want to work for them. Unfortunately, the strident language of job descriptions and recruiter’s narrow attitudes too often represent the corporate culture. It’s quite refreshing to read job postings where companies talk about their corporate culture and what it offers employees beyond a paycheck.
In his book “Ignited!” Vince references a survey that underscores the lack of company loyalty that corporate America enjoys where fully 72%??? of middle managers responded that they would jump to another company for even a modest bump in pay. Company loyalty may be rare for any number of reasons but the bottom line is that people don’t feel “the company” has their best interests in mind. It is no wonder that so many people are looking for home-based businesses that give them control over their livelihood and their lives.
Just take in the wording of this job posting and keep in mind it only pays $100k + whatever that means:
“The General Manager is responsible for planning, managing, and monitoring the profitable performance of the branch in accordance with corporate strategy, goals and objectives. As the senior leader of the branch, the General Manager is responsible for optimizing the performance of the assets (investments/resources) and operations for the branch and ensuring that it achieves its specific goals (i.e. profits, sales goals, customer satisfaction, employee retention and satisfaction). The General Manager is also responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with key customers and accounts and supporting the acquisition and maintenance of National Accounts. The General Manager is responsible for coaching the branch management team to optimize their personal performance and individual development. The General Manager maintains and enforces my clients’ policies, standards, and practices within the branch and ensures consistent implementation and adherence to their Vision, Mission and Values. The General Manager facilitates employee communications in the branch, and reinforces the company culture at all times, internally and externally.
STRATEGIC RESPONSIBILITIES -
Participate in the development of the region strategic and operating plans and ensure the specific branch plans are aligned with these plans. - Lead the development of the business plan for the branch, including changes in business direction, long term objective setting, strategies, policies, processes, and standards, etc., as required. - Evaluates and defines the longer term potential of the specific market area defined for the branch, with corporate involvement, taking into consideration such key business elements as, the customer base, sales goals, required investments in assets and resources, return on such investments, operations, communications etc. - Develops and obtains corporate agreement to shorter-term plans (annual budgets), to ensure achievement of the defined longer-term potential of the market. - Execute initiatives that will effectively provide the resources and tactics (actions) that will ensure performance to plans for the branch.
SALES MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBILITIES -
Execute company marketing techniques and materials to develop leads, secure new customers, maintain existing customers and promote the company across the branches’ market area. - Provide coaching and support to the Sales Manager and the branch sales teams to achieve their planned sales targets. Ensure the Sales Effectiveness Learning System and Consultative Selling Skills training is implemented for all new sales representatives. - Personally develop and maintain relationships with key customers and prospective customers across the branchs’ market area, including National Accounts. - Maintain a strong understanding of the market place realities across the market area, including the competition. - Work with the branch sales management team to optimize the effectiveness of the Company investments in sales programs and initiatives.
CUSTOMER SERVICE RESPONSIBILITIES -
Ensure the branch is focused on achieving optimal customer service and customer retention and provide personal support, as required. - Monitor customer satisfaction results for the branch and ensure action plans are in place to deal with issues and opportunities.- Assist the Customer Service Supervisor to hire, train, coach and lead qualified Customer Service Representatives to service clients efficiently, while meeting service and expense budget objectives. - Ensure customer service training is implemented for all employees in the branch - Ensure the availability of the right quality customer service support, vehicles, consoles, supplies, communications, paper disposal facilities, vehicle servicing, etc. in order to achieve planned service throughput and revenues.
OPERATIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES -
Ensure that the company’s principles and standards are adhered to with respect to all resources, procedures and practices. - Interface with Corporate operations to ensure the branch is able to achieve their annual and long term market potential as defined. - Monitor branch performance reporting and take action to rectify the causes of under-achievement in sales and profits.
GENERAL RESPONSIBILITIES -
Ensure consistent implementation and adherence to the company Vision, Mission and Values and function as a positive exponent of the company to all constituents, at all times. - Maintain and enforces the company’s policies, standards, and practices within the branch - Responsible to acquire all resources (clients, employees, vehicles, consoles, space, suppliers, equipment, systems, etc) as agreed with corporate management, in order to achieve planned goals and objectives. - Develop a performance agreement for each branch role that is aligned with the branch, region, and Corporate goals and objectives, regularly monitor individual performance and development, and take corrective action as required. - Facilitate employee communications within the branch, and reinforce the company’s culture at all times, internally and externally. - Ensure that all financial objectives (e.g., profit, revenue, accounts receivable, etc.) are achieved - Maintain external contacts through attendance at seminars, conferences, skills upgrading sessions, etc., to be aware of trends and "best practices" and external conditions (clients, competitors, business trends, new business developments, compensation rates and practices, outlets for shredded materials etc) so as to benefit the incumbent and the Company.
Functional Competencies- Proven leadership in successfully driving accelerated revenue growth with a business unit/branch- Delivered strategic and tactical leadership initiatives within pre-determined deadlines- Demonstrated ability to develop and realize business plans and budgets within a business unit environment- Direct working experience with fleet management and routing systems- Demonstrated expertise in initiating and managing successful business to business sales and service relationships- Developed, implemented and delivered "excellent customer service" team culture- Realized outstanding business results against determined objectives in: - sales and sales management- customer service and operations- administration- Computer literate Education and Experience - Undergraduate degree in Commerce and/or Business Studies preferred with a minimum of 10 years related business experience in a leadership position OR- MBA with a minimum of 6 years related business experience in a leadership position
Leadership Success Profile
- Demonstrated leadership that guides and inspires
- Demonstrated strategic thinking
- Results oriented with a sense of urgency and passion for winning
- Strong coaching and people management skills with a focus on employee development
- Clear, consistent and reliable communicator
- Committed to total customer satisfaction
- Conscientious about integrity, credibility, social responsibility and respect
- Acts with courage and has demonstrated strong change leadership skills
- Innovative and creative problem solving capabilities
It seems as though they don’t want a lot of people to apply. This does not sound rewarding at all. There is no way to know how many capable, talented people read this and said, “are you kidding?” I’d like to know what the CEO and or President of the company do all day. This is not a description of a job, it’s a description of a heart attack.
It is no wonder that more people are looking for ways to start their own businesses.