Do you really need to sell more S _ _ T?

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Or, do you need to fix your people problem?

It was a beautiful September day as I sat across from the president of a manufacturing company listening to his 2018 strategy, and watching him shift uncomfortably as he recalled his dissatisfactory 2017 business results. I knew I was in trouble when his response to a strategic question I asked was: “Joan, I just need to sell more s_ _t in 2018.” And there it was, not the most eloquent solution, but the one-size-fits-all for what ails an organization. The response that has complete disregard for the line item eating up the bulk of an operating budget. That’s right, PEOPLE.

Now I’ve been known to be incredibly direct, but it was like my inner voice completely took over and before I knew it, here was my equally gruff response: “You don’t need to sell more s_ _t, you need to fix your people problem.”

Let’s just say, I had his attention.

As a leader, I’m sure you’re operating from the fixed mindset that sales are the traditional predictor of business success, but if you’re in an HR related position, you get first-hand where the real opportunity to add to your bottom line is. It comes from fixing the people problem. Before I get into the growth mindset strategy, it’s important as a brain-based coach to lay out some groundwork for understanding the origin of this outdated belief, especially before one can even attempt to counteract it.

Just like advances in the medical space, we’ve learned more about the human brain in the last decade than at any point in history. Developments in psychology and neuroscience have further demonstrated how our preexisting beliefs, far more than any new facts, can distort what we consider the most unemotional and logical conclusions. This tendency or “motivated reasoning” helps explain why regardless of undisputable facts, we rarely can convince leaders to consider human capital from a new perspective.

The theory behind motivated reasoning builds on an insight of modern neuroscience: Reasoning is permeated with emotion. Our positive or negative feelings about people and things react quicker than our conscious thoughts. Long before we realize it, our cave man brain reacts quickly with its automated response. It’s human nature to push any new information away while keeping friendly information close. Our fight or flight responses are not only wired for predators but data itself, and this quick-fire response tends to be riddled with bias.

So, how did my “sell more s_ _t” man (and he knows who he is ?) work towards a more logical response? He was open minded enough to be coached in a new approach to solve what ailed his bottom line, and started to exercise his brain through our Mindset Matters workshop series. Where did we start with his organization? A bite size piece just like the brain loves: recruiting. His affliction with the talent shortage was turned upside down when APA Solutions took a revolutionary approach to his openings. Now that he’s fully staffed, we’re ready to move on to his retention issue.


Want to experience the very same workshops that turned a struggling leader into an innovative trailblazer? View our Mindset Matters 2018 session schedule to develop as a leader, and move your organization forward.

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Follow Joan Graci:

President and CEO

Joan Graci is an accomplished organizational consultant and executive coach with three decades of helping growing companies identify, retain, and develop top talent. Her time as President and Owner of APA Solutions, the premier brain-based human capital consulting firm of WNY, has been spent developing cutting edge, science-based solutions to the people pains of today.

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