If it Looks like a Duck, Swims like a Duck and Quacks like a Duck…it’s probably a Duck. And if it doesn’t, then don’t duck the issue. Get it out of the Duck Pond.

Let me tell you a story. It’s about a person who was hired to do a job. I’ll call her ‘Peg.’

If it looks like a Duck...

She looked good. She sounded good. She had all the right connections. It seemed she knew everyone, such was the quality of her network. And if she didn’t know them, and wanted to, then she was quick to rock up and start a conversation. CEOs, General Managers, key decision makers – no one was out of bounds for her. She had a way of getting in touch and keeping the connection. The dream B2B sales exec you might think. Or was she?

It was one of those times when a client of long standing asked a favour of me. Would I please have a quick chat with this ‘gun’ Business Development Manager of his who had been employed for roughly six months? When I say ‘gun’ that was his description not mine, and the reason for his confidence was because there had been six months of solid prospecting, networking, prospective client meetings, many proposals submitted and interest being shown, and it seemed that everything was humming along just fine. In other words all the activity was there and all the initiative to get out into the market place, knock on doors and ‘get a foot in’ was being demonstrated. So why did he want me to have a quick, informal chat I asked of him? (i.e. “Nothing too formal in case I ‘scared the horses,’ ” he said).

Well even though it seemed that everything was just humming along fine, and according to Peg the ‘gun’ BDM, she was certain of landing a ‘big fish’ any day now, as yet none had been netted. For some unknown reason they had been getting off the hook or they weren’t taking the bait. This didn’t phase Peg in the slightest, but my client was beginning to have some nagging doubts in the back of his mind. (He had decided to go on a small fishing expedition of his own with me casting the line.)

So as a favour, (remember this was a long standing, and much respected client of mine) I left my ‘formal executive profiler’s’ hat off, and organised to have a friendly, ‘how are you settling in?– how’s it all been going?’ chat with Peg and my client at the local café. Sure enough, Peg was chatty, effusive, confident and filled with stories about who she knew and how she knew them, and why they were keen to sign on to one of my client’s programmes any day now. In fact she was too damn chatty for my liking, but maybe that was just my own filters getting in the way!

As it transpired, I must have piqued enough of Peg’s interest during some lull in her conversation when I shared a little bit about how I help people (and their bosses) to get below the surface of what drives them so that they can make the most of their unique talents and motivations at work. She commented that she might be interested in knowing more about ‘what made her tick’ to me and her boss, so we arranged for me to put on my formal profiling hat when I got back to my office and send her the necessary material to start the process. (And because I had originally agreed to help my client out as a favour I left this now formal engagement as an informal follow up at bare minimum costs. I tell you this now because there is a valuable lesson, second to the main one, to be gained from this story and I will share it with you later).

When I finally received all of Peg’s material, there was no doubting that all of the expected motivational patterns were there as far as prospecting, networking and initiating contact were concerned. They were all clustered right around the top of her chart. Actually she was ‘off the chart’ on immersing herself in loads of activity day in day out – being idle was not for her (tick). She was also very charged up with the desire to get out there and initiate action (tick); talk with people, listen carefully to them and canvass their input (tick, tick). In actual fact, if there was a choice between thinking and planning versus jumping into action, Peg would choose action over deliberation any day (another tick). And did I say she was also comfortable with keeping to a schedule in the pursuit of a goal, working a system and keeping accurate records (tick, tick, tick, tick)? I think you get the picture.

So what or where were the missing links?” I hear you asking me. Before I let you in on the secret, you will find it interesting to know that even though I chased Peg up on more than a few occasions, I never did get the opportunity to personally debrief her. There always seemed to be some reason why she missed my calls, misplaced my emails or was ‘too busy to get back to me this week’ (there’s a clue here). Anyway, because it was that ‘small fee – big favour’ kind of exercise, I decided not to chase around the block with Peg any longer and confined my time just to debriefing my client.

Here’s what I told him. “Yes, there is no doubt that Peg is a ‘gun’ prospector and networker as you say. She will get you in the door of many of the right type of clients and she has a level of activity and initiation combined with resilience, to keep it up long after others may have drifted off into the land of ‘call reluctance.’  So you should value that part of her motivation and desire, and leverage it to maximum effect…

…But there are just a couple of patterns that are very low down on Peg’s motivational radar that I Deep Sea Fishingfeel are holding her back and if they aren’t addressed or if she is not able to acknowledge them and work towards changing or developing them further, then you may continue to hear and see evidence of great fishing and wonderful persistence ‘playing the line,’ but eventually the fish will get away after all those hours out there on the ocean. Those critical missing motivational patterns are the ‘Desire to Achieve,’ ‘Digging up and Solving Problems,’ and her effectiveness at ‘Reading People’ so she knows when to reel in that big fish and reach for the net.

My client thanked me for my insights, and said that he would give them some further thought and see what he could do to address this seemingly small gap (but crucial in my opinion) in Peg’s otherwise impressive BDM make-up. Just before we ended our conversation, he added that because they were so close to landing a couple of those big fish that had been on Peg’s line for some time now, he would give it a couple more months before considering more drastic action, if need be. It occurred to me as I walked away from that debriefing, that now my client was the one who was ‘hooked’ because he was so enmeshed in Peg’s activity and story of ‘it’s all going to land any day now’ he didn’t want to rock that boat they were both so firmly ensconced in.

Those ‘couple more months’ stretched out to a further twelve or more at a substantial cost to my client’s business, and not one fish – not even a tiddler – was landed before he and Peg, the ‘gun’ BDM, finally parted company. The moral of this story, and one worth committing deeply to memory for all of you who are business owners and managers, is that if someone is not a good fit for a role in even one or two crucial elements of motivation, no matter what other wonderful talents they bring to the table, then wishing and hoping things will change without intervention of some kind or another (whether that be through coaching, correcting, changing their role or moving them on), is not healthy for you, nor for them and certainly not healthy for your business.

In other words, ‘if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, but for some strange reason does NOT quack like a duck,’ then chances are it is still most probably not a duck but some other bird with webbed feet, and it needs to be moved from the duck pond to another environment more suited to its appetite. Or as the old saying goes – “Don’t put a square ‘Peg’ in a round hole.”

Oh and before I forget. What was the secondary lesson that you can take away from this story?

Because I wanted to ‘help out a longstanding client of mine with a quick informal favour,’ I lost sight of when the quick informal favour morphed into a more formal and substantive engagement. I should have then made arrangements with my client to change the nature of this engagement to one which was properly deserving of the appropriate investment for my time and expertise. If that had been the case, then he may have been motivated to listen more carefully and respond more decisively to my findings and recommendations about Peg, (i.e. if his investment for my advice was commensurate with its true worth.)

Not only that, I too would have had a more vested interest in making him sit up and take notice if I had known that I was being professionally engaged to investigate an issue and recommend an appropriate course of action and was not just ‘doing him a quick favour.’ In the final analysis neither he nor I were doing him a favour when the cost of an extra twelve months of salary at zero return was ripped from his bottom line. My professional fee for my insights and intervention on his behalf on this one ‘sticky issue’ paled by comparison to the money it cost him over that period of time, let alone the massive lost opportunity cost.

By the way, we are still in a long and mutually beneficial supplier-client relationship together to this date, so we live and learn to enjoy each other’s company and respective input another day.

The big moral for me (and I hope for you) in this story is that the outcome should always be more important than the investment, and that the investment you make should never be seen as a cost if the outcome you are striving for is achieved. When cost gets in the way of the outcome to such a degree that reducing it, avoiding it or saving it becomes the main focus, then that’s when you can potentially kiss the outcome goodbye.

Drop me an email to brian@precisionprofiling.com.au if you would like to know more about how I can help you find the missing link to your key people in roles that can make or break your company… or with the assessment of internal or external candidates for key positions.  

A complimentary discovery session with me will help you get crystal clear on what you need to be doing in these areas. Don’t make the mistake that my client did above and just hope that your people issues will fix themselves without the proper insights or interventions.

Until then… Let’s seek to understand more and judge less.  Have a great week – Brian

Precision Profiling – What Makes You Tick?  Through ‘Motivational Fingerprinting’ we uncover what you do, how you do it and why you do it, and most importantly, the hidden patterns that lead to your success, and that of your staff.

About Brian Clark

Brian Clark is the principal director of Precision Profiling®.

He is a renowned practitioner, writer and speaker on building total customer cultures; values driven leadership and world best practice strategy and implementation.

He has been a guest lecturer on world best practice for the executive management programme at Monash University’s business college (Mt Eliza campus); an adviser to and key note speaker for the Singapore Productivity Association and a consultant to many major Australian and overseas corporations and government departments.

Read more about Brian Clark Here


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    • Hi Raul

      Thank you for your kind feedback. My whole purpose of writing these blogs each week is to openly share the benefits of what I have learned and uncovered about people through the many years of specialized profiling and coaching work that I do in corporations and for private business owners and their staff. In my opinion, the more we understand ourselves and others (especially at the unconscious and motivational levels) the more opportunity for Acceptance and less flawed Judgment we throw around. Judgment which often leads to conflict and damage to ourselves and others. Other than the hands-on work I do face-to-face, on-site at businesses and by Skype or phone for my interstate and overseas clients, these weekly posts of mine are my other way of getting the message out there. If you know of anyone whom you think may appreciate reading my weekly musings or case studies shared, please pass the web page blog link on to them. Whether people go regularly to my blog page or take up the offer of the free weekly newsletter feed, either way I am happy if I know I have helped more people to reach another level of understanding of themselves and others. Have a great day. Cheers Brian

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