Here is an interesting article about a sales rep for an indian drug company who was under so much pressure for performance that he committed suicide. This particular story resonated with me because I have a significant amount of experience working with an overly aggressive indian firm.
The challenge with this unfortunate rep, and the challenge with me was the same. In both cases the targets for the sales teams were so unrealistic that the individual contributors on the ground understood completely that they could never meet them. Yet the unrealistic nature of the demands continued unabated… and always seemed to intensify. “We have to meet these goals, we have no choice”.
The article plays up the whole aspect of the illegal. It touches on the demands by management to make sure the unrealistic or illegal is actually being performed. It also gives some glimpses into the tactics used by unscrupulous leadership to pressure team members.
I could write another book about these types of tactics, but I won’t. I will highlight one tactic from this article, a particularly nefarious one. It is the idea that professionals need to continually move to territories when called to do so. Moving work locations isn’t necessarily a bad thing in the corporate world, even if it requires a household relocation. If completely voluntary on the part of the worker, well planned long in advance (baring genuine emergency situations), facilitated on the part of the employer, and includes some form of significant promotion or additional compensation for the drastic change involved, then it’s a good thing. It becomes a desired thing if the culture of constant relocations was heavily communicated prior to the employee joining the firm and the employees are trained on how to best acclimate to continually dealing with life transitions. Does this sound insane? Think about how the US Military handles it. They are the gold standard in this and soldiers still have a hard time with it.
It’s when your called into your boss’s office and told to move 1500 miles in a few weeks that the evil creeps into corporate moves. This is either in a tactic to drive renewed focus and energy into an employee seen as sagging (it’s never the company or management expectations, only the employee) or as a way to get the employee to quit the company. In either instance the company gets what they want, which is a new employee (with the perception of new energy, and less reality based apathy) in the professionals former position, and they may in fact get two new positions filled, with one employee (the one asked to move) who doesn’t even have to go through training.
But we can say that this is not realistic in our culture. Some would argue It’s not this bad in the US. There is some truth to this, not much but some. Disclaimer: I Have never traveled to India, only worked for an Indian company with mostly indian senior management. It was small enough to engage with this management regularly and have limited filters between management and staff. India has always been seen as the wild west to me. The real wild west with limited formal law enforcement and fiefdoms continually engaged in stealing from, terrorizing, and domineering the local populations. Like the wild west there is intense competition for limited resources and also like the wild west, the government, while growing in influence, is still not really a regulating force at the level it needs to be.
We can argue that this situation: obscene pressure, obscene and illegal competition, not just unrealistic but completely impossible expectations, sickening tactics, etc.. are all par for the course in some industries, especially overly aggressive ones in 2nd world ‘emerging economies’. The reality to my mind is quite different. With the barriers mostly breaking down between nations, the more caustic elements of the corporate culture are also transitioning. Guess what happens if Abbott labs Indian sales teams start out performing the ones in other parts of the world. Who gets promoted to the international sales manager? In a culture where they will move you around your own country on a whim to increase sales, why not move people around the world? If you grew up (professionally) in a world where you will do anything, illegal or not, to meet your corporate goals that will be your work ethic. Senior management in American companies knows this and morality doesn’t enter into the calculus on who they want working for them. I believe it’s one of the reasons why even when there is layoffs in the tech sector the companies are going crazy to grab every H1B visa they can.
All business is a financial transaction, that means that long and short term profit – with short term always having the heavier weight in that calculation – will always be measured against the cost to get that profit. Bottom line, we don’t live in a world where the mature and responsible older western business models from the baby boom generation are influencing the rest of the world to conduct business in a responsible manner. It’s the rest of the world tyrannical and unrelenting efforts that are winning, and therefore migrating to the west. America has always been accepting and proud of it’s immigrational influences.
Unfortunately, for the professional this trend is looking less like a melting pot and more like a melt down.
Source Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/11/business/international/abbott-india-suicide-inhuman-drug-sales-tactics.html