What Will they Remember?

After being with a very good company for a little over 11 years, as a result of some soul searching, I decided to leave and pursue other interests. I was away for about 6 years. The timing and situation worked out so that I returned to the same company. One thing really stood out after being gone for awhile. The something was, "What they remembered."

Almost all of my tenure in this company had been in multi-unit management. I had the opportunity to hire and train a number of outstanding individuals. When I came back, those individuals were now in positions of management themselves. Whenever I met with any of them, even if just shaking hands and saying "hello", there was always a story they remembered about us working together that they wanted to bring up. I believe that's to be expected. What I didn't expect is the nature of the memories. There were many successes, bonuses and promotions to reflect back on. However, that was not what they brought up. What I heard, every single time, was a less "cheerful" memory where they were corrected in regards to performance, attitude or expectations. I never heard, "Remember that month we blew away our sales goal?" No, what I heard was, "I remember when I (fill in the blank, did something wrong) and you sat me down and lined me out for what seemed like forever!" This was usually followed up with, "I never forgot that and while I couldn't stand you that day, it has stuck with me and made me better." Some of these things happened 5, 10 or even 15 years ago. And I must admit, sometimes I did not remember what had happened. It was such a minute point to me, but was a moment they would never forget. Those corrections made more of an impression than the successes they had. When I look back at the mentors I have had, I feel the exact same way. The turning points made much more of an impact than the successes did. 

As leaders, we have to be conscious of the fact that everything we do or say, is being noticed and stored in memory by someone. Those things being stored can either be hurtful and damaging. They can also be forthright and even harsh if they are coming from a place of teaching and training for betterment of the individual and the company. Sometimes that betterment is not all warm and fuzzy. Sometimes it's tough, impactful and lasting.

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  • Exactly true!  Often the warm and fuzzy feeling is short lived, but the teaching, training and concern for the individual is remembered always. 

    Policies, Controls, Compliance and Audit can be compared to the statement "Sometimes it's tough, impactful and lasting".  Compliance and the accompanying issues may not give the warm and fuzzy feeling, until the company is stronger, growing and life is easier. 

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    • Joyce Guest I also think about some customers I have worked with through the years. There were some tough times and I had to say "no" because it was in the best interest of everyone involved. That's not to say that even after explaining why I wouldn't "sell them that car that was out of their budget", they were thankful. Far from it! However ,by doing the right thing by the customer and the company, I was able to preserve the relationship and we continued doing business long afterwards. I can also think of times I went against that principal and it ended up being a repossession. I think it's all in how it's presented while having and upholding standards. 

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