The Boss Rules: Rule #2

I’ve worked for a lot of years, enjoyed a lot of roles in my career, and had a lot of supervisors who imparted their wisdom to me.   I thought I would share some of their best stuff with you in this series of posts called, “The Boss Rules.”

Rule #2:  “Ask them, ‘What are you trying to accomplish?’ ”

I spent a few years in the IT department of a large corporation.   I am not an IT person, per se, but I had an understanding of the business we were in and the processes the company employed in its go-to-market strategy, so I was invited to join the CRM process team.  The team was charged with identifying, prioritizing, and allocating resources (time, people, and money) to support strategic company objectives in the CRM space.   Our team was the first filter that helped determine who got the IT department’s resources.  The number of project requests was daunting and I soon learned that it was impossible to complete even a small portion of them.  

Some would say, “My department needs a new web site on the intranet.” 

Others said, “We need to develop a new commission structure and system to manage it.”

Still others, “We need a new Contact Management System.”

The company’s needs were vast but its resources were limited.  Having spent considerable time in sales, I hated to say no.  I remember going to my boss a little frustrated, “How are we going to get all this done?  These are good people asking for help, I hate to let them down.”

My boss said, “Maybe we don’t have to let them down, Butch.  Maybe we need to ask them, ‘What are you trying to accomplish?’  You see, it may be that the Sales Department, really just wants to grow sales.  It may be they only think they need a new commission structure and system to accomplish that.  Perhaps you can help them figure out another way for them to grow sales without having to invest thousands and thousands of dollars and hours of time to change our current commission structure.”

“What are you trying to accomplish?” 

Six simple words that have proven again and again to be the single most important question I can ask clients, associates, and myself.  At Force 5, we ask that question every time we can.  It helps us find the best and most direct solutions possible for our clients and ourselves.