I remember it like it was yesterday - a client of mine had a group of technicians who played a large sales role for the company. One morning, I’m sitting in the president’s office and he asks me if he made a mistake.
“I hired another technician, he is good, but I don’t have a place for him yet or another truck for him to drive. But I hired him anyway. Do you think I got ahead of myself?”
I simply replied: "Not at all. You just created tension in the tank."
As the story goes, fisherman realized they could get a premium for their fish if they brought them back to port alive and more importantly “full of life.” The problem was the long distances and times at sea made this difficult as the fish would barely survive that amount of time in the tank.
They came up with a simple solution that made a huge impact. Put a shark in the tank. Why was this so effective? The tension of having a shark in the tank caused the other fish to swim more aggressively to stay alive. In the end, the fisherman would lose a few fish due to the shark eating them but kept more fish alive and “lively” than ever before.
If you feel like you are battling status quo in your organization, it is time to put tension in the tank. Over the past decade I have seen anything from letting go of a top performer, (for a good reason - a classic case of only living off of current accounts and not managing the CRM which caused newer reps to follow suit), to changing compensation plans that would move to more of a commission base but would reward those who engaged in the proper behaviors.
If you want to determine which fish in your school will be eaten and which will more lively, add productive tension. You’ll quickly see who on your sales team will be eaten and who will be full of life.