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A Team Who “Owns it” Must Be Allowed To Make Decisions

When the process becomes more important than making progress, results-oriented people lose “buy in.”

“Do what is right for your territory, no matter what the marketing people in New York say.” I had always believed our Fortune 50 company rolled out well-developed marketing plans which made a lot of sense in the majority of marketplaces. But one thing was missing.

The majority is 51%. Those plans did not always encompass the needs of my team. In order for us to perform well, we needed the freedom to be flexible and deviate from the plans of well-meaning marketers who had never worked in regions outside of the company’s New York headquarters.

My team included smart, talented salespeople who worked in both rural small towns and larger urban cities. The same strategies were unlikely to work in both geographies. My salespeople knew this, but they were concerned about getting in trouble, even though they were doing what they knew to be the right thing for their customers. Previous managers had held them accountable for implementing top-down driven strategies in the past–even when they knew those strategies failed their clients.

Have you ever been in this situation?

Many of us have seen a plan developed based on broad data by intelligent people who have never been on the frontlines. Unfortunately when frontline people voice their concerns and ask for flexibility, too often the middle managers demand strict adherence to the original plan. Why? Because they are not willing to challenge a headquarters initiative.

The result? Without the input of the pe