The Success Hangover

Posted by on January 15, 2010 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

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I recently met with Bruce a company owner and MD intent on growing his already-successful company. He’s in the process of employing Regional Managers, Sales Managers and devising an aggressive sales and growth strategy. He is looking to partner with me as a coach and mentor to his company – but what I discovered was astounding. Bruce has decided to cancel company conference. He’s cancelling the very bastion of motivation and team-building. I think he’s doing exactly the right thing.

To be totally honest, I was initially astounded when Bruce told me that as of this year they will no longer be holding their annual company motivational event. I was about to lunch into a rigorous verbal defence of company conferences, breakaways and teambuilding. This is the livelihood of speakers, trainers and consultants after-all. But I paused… and I’m glad I did.

I had to know more. Was it the cost? The venues? The content? Employee behaviour while on conference?

So I asked.

Bruce’s reply was that it was none of the issues I had initially imagined. He’d gone to look at the metrics of a successful company – sales and “bottom-line” – and found that the month after the company conference was the worst performing of the entire year. Not just last year – EVERY year. Staff came back from conference motivated, refreshed and slightly hungover – what’s new? Problem is the latent effect was a Success Hangover!

They spent time at every conference telling each other how great they are. They completely forgot to look forward, to take immediate massive action on their return towards next year’s success. They lacked goals and a vision.

I’ve worked with many companies like this – companies that are immensely successful despite themselves. They have awesome business models, great people and happy customer so there’s no reason for them to fail. Until their competitors copy their model, poach their staff, and heaven forbid, aggressively approach their clients with offers that are “too good to refuse”.

It’s vitally important that enough time is spent at these corporate retreats on “Looking Forward”. Everyone must know exactly what they are going to be doing differently, less of, more of and what they should continue doing the moment they get back to the office. The time for celebrating is over. As Maximus says to the Emperor in “Gladiator”, “The time for honouring yourself will soon be at an end.”

Looking forward should be the result of a motivational conference or corporate retreat.

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