Why Non-Producers Don’t Produce

In a recent meeting with a staffing CEO and chief sales officer, the CEO said:

“If I knew why our non-producers didn’t produce, I would be free of problems in my sales and recruiting organization!”

I looked him right in the eye and said unequivocally, “I know exactly why non-producers don’t produce.”

The CEO gave his chief sales officer with a bewildered look and asked, “Do you know why our non-producers are not producing?’ The CSO just shook his head, then shrugged his shoulders.

“OK, Mike, enlighten me. Why don’t non-producers produce?

“Because deep down inside, they don’t really want to produce.”

And there it is — the proverbial “elephant in the kitchen” that no one ever addresses or wants to talk about. As managers, we spend too much time trying to help non-producers trying to produce, rather than investing time in our top producers, who deserve better from us.

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You have to understand that the main reason non-producers don’t produce is because they are in some form of conflict. They say they want to produce, but their actions and activities say otherwise. At a minimum, they want you to think they want to produce, and they work very hard convincing you of this. Here’s the thing: The motivation to be a producer must come from within. You have to want to be a producer and have all the fame and glory that comes along with it. Now, for clarity, I am talking about people who have been with the company a year or more with reasonable quotas — not someone who is in their third month with a ridiculously high quota — i.e., the same quota they will have in month 12.

If non-producers truly wanted to produce, they would. They would find a way to get it done. That would make them producers. They would invest in themselves, seek out the advice of their top-performing peers, increase activity levels, make adjustments, work on perfecting their skills, leverage their network for referrals, etc. They would find a way to make it happen. Non-producers find it easier just to sell their manager on all reasons why it isn’t happening.

Here are five reasons I see why non-producers don’t produce:

  1. Keeping their job is their top priority. We don’t want to believe this, but it is true. They do just enough to keep their job. Just enough activity, just enough to appear they are working hard. After all, who wants to go home at night and tell their significant other, “I was fired today.”
  2. They have mastered the “socially acceptable excuse.” They are quite good at selling their manager on the reasons why things don’t work and why their market is different. See No. 1.
  3. They focus on activities, not results. They talk all the time about all the activities they are doing, but rarely focus on the results. Activities can make it seem like they are working hard. Activities are only a piece of the puzzle. What about the quality of their activities?
  4. They don’t learn from failures — making them successful failures. If they truly want to be successful, they would earn from their failures and adjust accordingly. There is an old saying, “Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment.”
  5. They don’t assume personal accountability for their results. See No. 2. Producers know that if they feel unhappy with their results, they have only to look in the mirror to stare the culprit straight in the eye. Non-producers focus on perfecting their socially acceptable excuses.”

Too many times in my professional career, I have wanted success more for the person I was leading than they wanted for themselves. I realized a long time ago, that motivation must come from within. I can motivate people in short spurts, but motivation for success over time must be inherent to the individual. It is my belief that if someone desires a career in sales or recruiting and truly wants to be successful, they can. Fortunately for us, it is one of those professions, you get out of it exactly what you put into it.

Mike Jacoutot

Mike Jacoutot
Mike Jacoutot is founder and managing partner of Butler Street, a process-driven, performance improvement firm focused on client and talent development. He is a former staffing company CEO. He can be reached at mikejacoutot (at) butlerstreetllc (dot) com.

Mike Jacoutot

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