A Plan is a Plan, is a Plan… is it really ???

This headline was the favourite phrase of a sales manager on my first job. There as not a single sales meeting in which this phrase was not applied and typically in a what that the person who had to listen to it felt humiliated. Still is interesting to me how many sales meetings / reviews use as basis the humiliation. I used to have a list of phrases which are totally useless, but still were used in almost all reviews. Who has not heard:

  • This is unacceptable
  • How are you going to recover
  • Is your partner still working
  • Are you bullshitting me
  • etc

I have to admit that by the time I was doing the questions to my sellers have used some of the above as well. The effect was always the same. The other side of the line did not appreciate me and we just continued the game. After all life is a boomerang and you will always come back at you. The past manager who said “A plan is a plan, is a plan” suffered his own words. During an incentive he had to climb on a rock wall and about 1.5 meters above the floor got “stuck” he could not move a bit, his body shivered and then from the crowd there came the phrase “A plan is a plan, is a plan”. You could not imagine the laughter of the team. The morale of the story is that everybody loved to see him suffer. Is that really in the spirit of a team?


Goals or Targets can and have to be defined on a corporate level and then be brought down to the different hierarchies in the organisation. In case there is a disconnect of the Goals with the team it will clearly not help to achieve them. I found an very interesting report on this in HBR. Though the report focuses more on the hierarchy it illustrates pretty well my next lines. Even intelligent people need to believe that what they are doing is right and will help them in their personal goals, which should be not too different. The guy I have mentioned before had a personal goal to become CEO of the company. He did not consider that the team he was leading did not support him, neither his personal goal. Further, much to his dismay, he did not consider that the corporate goal was more a fantasy and it was completely out of reach. When he saw that none of the regions delivered the numbers he did not question the goal but just continued the beating. I have never seen this being a good strategy and this case was not an exception. So after been stuck on the wall climbing, we, his subordinates had another great moment when he was finally fired. This is for sure not a winning scenario for anybody, less for the company.

Managers seem to forget sometimes that the reality they are living can be very different from the reality their teams are living. Thus they talk about goals which for sure can be very interesting to them but maybe they are not as much to the troops. It might be worth the try to ask an employee (not a manager !!!) of any corporation what the goals of his/her corporation are. Then ask if he/she agrees with them? The next question should be “what does this mean to you?” The answer to this question will be very important in order to understand the degree of commitment he/she might be having.


Many sales mangers, that would include myself as well in the past, become sales mangers because they were good sales people. The appointments happen from one day to another and there is little to no preparation on how to really stand up to the expectations in this new role which is in fact very different. May be it is nature but most just adopt the habits of their former managers and continue in the same line. I do not think that being feared or including hated, like in the example above, is a good thing. There is a strong line between fear and respect and it is indeed important to be respected but that has nothing to do with fear. One earns respect by standing for a word but also by getting back down into the trenches when the going get’s tough. Since one has been there before remember what it was that you liked least in your sales reviews, do not do that to your team! Also when an opportunity drops on which you really counted it can be very helpful to pull the particular seller into the sales call you will have with your manager so he/she better understands what this means to you. It does help in some cases.

I very much liked this scene from the movie Jerry Maguire.

I love the line “it is a very personal and very important thing in my life”. There is an alignment of the goals of both parties which could be easily applied to more than just this situation but also to customer and vendor or manager and employee. Please excuse the strong language in the clip.


About cnitschke

This blog is purely personal and reflects only my personal opinion. None of the content can be related in any way to my employer or former employers.
This entry was posted in Freedom, Inspiration, Management, Motivation, Personal, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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