Ted has been employed by a technology
consulting firm of going on 10 years. By title he has been the Director of
Sales and overall has had a successful career. He joined the company
after spending his previous 8 years with a similar firm, so he came with
experience. He has opened many doors, closed some of the larger accounts, and
has been a mentor to several younger sales reps.
About 2 years ago Andrew joined the
firm. He had been working for 2 years prior with a smaller consultancy while
going to school at night for his MBA. He joined this firm upon completion of
his advanced degree ready for a bigger challenge. Ted, being the Director of
Sales, was his mentor and immediate supervisor. Andrew was a quick study and
within a few months was out in the marketplace on his own, gaining traction,
and began to close new deals. In fact, Andrew closed the largest deal in the
company’s history on the day of his 6 month anniversary with the firm.
Andrew does not sit still well. In fact,
he never sits still. While he does have a rather solid work-life balance, he is
taking his career very seriously. He has never been one to shy away from taking
on more in an effort to help the company and to personally grow. It came as no
surprise that Andrew befriended the CEO on a project and stood out as a future
star. So, it also should not have come as a surprise when Andrew was promoted,
although it did to Ted, and now Ted works for Andrew.
This is a story that’s been played out
in companies for years. The young up & comer becomes the boss. While it is
not new, it was to Ted, and it became hard for him to digest. I’ve known Ted
and the CEO for several years. I’ve done business with their firm and also have
gotten to know them personally. When Ted began to struggle with the change, I
was asked to intervene.
Ted’s biggest issue was not that he had
a new boss or that the boss was younger. The big issue for Ted is that he felt
blindsided. He was having trouble grasping what he did wrong, why Andrew
overshadowed him, and did Andrew intentionally go around Ted to the CEO in a
spiteful manner. Of course, Andrew didn’t do anything spiteful, simply Ted
himself ignored opportunities to grow.
It took a few meetings over a couple of
months, but Ted finally awoke to the fact that he missed the signs for growth
opportunity that were right in front of him. While he enjoyed sales and being a
sales manager, oftentimes he did not stay late, take on the extra projects, or
work to build tighter relationships with his superiors. In essence, he is doing
today what he did 10 years ago, nothing less and nothing more.
It was a hard pill for Ted to swallow,
but as I shared my opinion on this scenario, he seemed to realize two things: (1) He was happy being a sales manager. He enjoyed the “more set schedule” and
less stress of executive leadership. He still loves the thrill of sales, but
has come to realize he is not interested in taking on more responsibility; and, (2)
Andrew is perfectly suited to be the VP of Sales and Marketing. Andrew holds
Ted in high regard and is appreciative for what Ted’s taught him. He is excited
for his new role, but also wants to make sure Ted stays on board and stays
involved as the Director of Sales. He values Ted’s experience in the trenches.
This could have gone horribly wrong. Ted
could have thrown in the towel, quit, and moved on to a new company. But, it
didn’t go wrong. He gave it time to sink in. He came to the realization that
Andrew was the right person for the job. Be careful in your sales career not to
overreact. Be patient when change comes your way…it may be a benefit to your