"You can't teach an old dog new tricks."
-- Common phrase
I was talking with a sales manager friend today about a sales team that has some old dogs on it. In fact, they are past typical retirement age. We were talking about training and the company was hoping to get them to become motivated.
I started my sales management career with old dogs. In fact, I had just turned 25, and the youngest on my sales staff was 36 and the oldest was 64. Then along the way on my travels, I found other old dogs on the staff that I inherited, and I learned a lot about old dogs, motivation, and performance.
Here are some things I've learned about this subject:
Old dogs can learn new tricks. The key ingredient here is not capability or capacity, but desire. If they want to learn new tricks, they will learn as fast as any other age, although on certain things such as current technology they may be behind the curve a bit, but they will make up for it in the long run.
Trying to motivate old dogs or anyone else for that matter, is a waste of valuable time and energy. The only motivation that holds any value besides a short burst from fear is self-motivation. Motivation comes from within, not from without. I learned this valuable lesson early in my sales management career, and though I may have had temporary amnesia from time to time, I came to my senses soon enough. Any motivation that will be helpful will come from desire, not fear.
Old dogs will test the new guy in charge until they arrive at mutual respect and trust. I got better with the old dogs when I didn't try to force feed them but developed a respect for the value they brought to the table, and the experience compounded over time.
Old dogs can be your best advocate. In time and with some of the above, old dogs can be your best advocate and help bring along others to the overall goal.
The new broom sweeps the cleanest. I never much liked this phrase which I learned from the wise old first dealer I worked for, but there is more than some truth to the phrase. There comes a time when if we are to move ahead at a reasonable pace, we need to lighten our load from the dead weight of people who refuse or are otherwise unwilling to change.
Holding on to people who are dragging the rest of the team or the organization down is counterproductive. Sure, they make some sales and have a bunch of accounts, but everyone is dying because there are so few new ones. Growth is life. Life is growth. We, our team, or our organization is growing or it is not. When it is not, this is a clue. Perhaps it is time for a change. I have been here and once we finally decide to pull the trigger, there seems to be a release of energy that feeds everyone positively, including the one who is leaving, because it is not doing them any good staying around either.
Some Old Dogs Never Quit Growing Until They Fall Over Dead. That's My Personal Plan!
Spread Some Joy Today--Are you growing? Are you having more joy in your life than before? It's okay to ask for more! There is a never-ending supply.