Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The tension between friends, lunch and work

Sales staff discusses issues at lunch
There’s the people you work for, and there’s the people you work with.

Usually you spend more time with the people you work with, but those relationships usually don’t pay the bills. So, how do we balance both ends of the work-interaction spectrum?

The tension between the two reminds me of Hollie. She was hired as a category sales rep to zero in on a specific type of business, those outside of the local area. In order to create a territory for her, the manager peeled regional accounts off of everyone else’s territory, mine included, and gave them to Hollie.

No weight was given to customer-rep relationships, difficulty of customer to deal with, or how upset it made the reps losing customers, and thus taking a pay cut. In other words, fewer customers equaled lower commissions.

Needless to say, most were pissed.

After Hollie came on board, everyone realized she was a nice person and decided to make the best of it. Only Hollie put no energy into getting to know us.

People were more pissed.

“Being friends with us is not going to put food on her family’s table.” I said, as we chowed down at a Chinese restaurant, a favorite lunch spot for the gang of sales girls.

There was general disgruntlement, but it was clear, we were not Hollie’s top priority. Working hard, getting out of the office to jog, ride horses, live on a farm, enjoy her husband and her child was her focus.

Work isn’t about friends, having a good time, and creating fond memories. That is a by-product of proximity, camaraderie, friendly competition, and working towards a common goal.

Work is not about ignoring everyone else, either. But until the sales goals are met, there should probably be a lot less lunch.

Note: Hollie (not her real name) and I became friends and are still friends. We never meet for lunch (we probably should). We do cheer each other’s career changes via Facebook.