The Apprentice, Management and Teamwork!


I subscribe to my fair share of newsletters, RSS feeds and updates. Most of them I unsubscribe from pretty quickly as the content is so poor. However there are some notable exceptions – one of which is Gavin Ingham’s The Sales Apprentice: Sales Training Tips from the Hit TV Show. Each night after the show Gavin captures his thoughts and insights about candidates performance and e-mails them over night. One of the things I love about this is the immediacy. (Last nights was mailed at 01:48). Another is the observations of someone who watches the performance from a pure sales perspective. They notice things that those of us who are less sales obsessed simply don’t see. In last nights post Gavin offered the following:
Sales training tip for success: Learn how to work as part of a team.
I think what is really annoying me about this show is the fact that our Sales Apprentices are seemingly incapable of working together.

They spend so little time working as a team and so much working divisively.

Take a moment to look around your team and think of simple things that you can do to support and challenge each other.

The Apprentice is not a team competition. Co-operation is not the route to success. The prize will go to one person.

It is personal.

1 on 1.

It is about looking good, or hiding.

It is about undermining potential threats.

The behaviours and results that we see in the Apprentice are a direct consequence of the things that the leader, SAS, chooses to highlight, reward and punish.

As we lead – so shall they follow.

Unless a manager recognises this, effectively and publicly dealing with (in the context of this show – firing) those who focus on the Machiavellian side of management, these behaviours and the associated mediocre performance will persist. You can seek solutions in Balanced Scorecards, JIT, Lean or Systems Thinking – but the mediocrity will persist.

Now I would love to believe that ‘The Apprentice’ is not a fair representation of management at work. But so many organisations are just like this – competitions to climb a slippery pole rather than genuinely create value for the organisation. And many – perhaps most – managers are just not perceptive, skillful or brave enough to deal with it.

They focus so much on the task and the numbers – that they just don’t see the pain or the potential for improvement that lies in the process.

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