Should Mavericks Be Tamed?

Had a cracking weekend with pals of mine in Manchester, and on the flight down (sounds extravagant but was unbelievably both half the price of the train, and half the journey time by car!) I suffered the bland sandwich that is BA’s in-flight “high life” (who are they kidding?) magazine.  Fortunately, I appeared to be the only person on the plane in possession of their “business life” rag too.  20 minutes flicking through this often gives you a small nugget to ponder, and this edition’s was “Ghost Compliance”.

Some dodgy-feeling article on training began with an attack on Maverick employees and how they could be reined in to the corporate fold.  Now, clearly having grown up in sales myself, I’m rather fond of such personality traits, so was a touch aghast to read that someone was suggesting correctional techniques akin to Guantanamo Bay.

Yet sympathy emerged when thinking about sales people, particularly when a new initiative gets trumpeted.  Many do not embrace it.  Whether it be selling a new product, extra reporting requirements internally, or selling in a different manner, I’ve experienced countless instances of sales person disengagement.  What the journo was bringing to my attention was this concept of Ghost Compliance.

This is where someone says pretty much “thanks for showing me the light, and boy, do I feel mega-motivated now”, then carry on regardless, having said enough to keep their boss off their back.

So, next time a new initiative crops up, as a rep you’d decide how enthusiastically to engage with it, and I bet if you chose not to comply you’d be rooted out, yet if you opted to ‘ghost comply’, your boss would miss your trick for a touch longer than more urgent cases….

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