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Published:June 16th, 2007 06:01 EST
If the Shoe Fits

If the Shoe Fits

By Joel G. Block (Mentor/Columnist)

One of the great dilemmas that business owners, managers, and entrepreneurs have to deal with is whether the “shoe should fit the foot, or the “foot should fit the shoe." This is a real-world problem, and it requires some real-world thinking.

One of my clients has an easy-going style. He is also very sales oriented. The first people he hired for his company were sales people. They were used to sales commissions, a sales structure, a sales culture, and a sales environment The people he hired later on, however, were more low key and less competitive.

Over time, it became clear that the environment he’d built for the first wave of employees wasn’t working all that well for the second wave. The second group of people simply wasn’t responding to the sales commissions and structures that we’d set up. Why? The people in the second group weren’t really sales people. They were project managers who were also responsible for some selling.

We had a hard discussion about whether we needed to hire people who fit the initial sales-oriented culture that we’d set up, or if we needed to adjust our culture to motivate employees whose primary area of expertise wasn’t sales.

Because of the company’s location, the owner had a limited work force from which he could choose. Thus, we decided to mold the company around the candidates that we had. I personally prefer this approach, since I'm not a fan of "combination people" – people who perform more than one function, such as project management and sales. We opted to separate the responsibilities and change the way we structured both compensation and the work environment.

The changes we made worked much better than the “old" system.

So, as you are working hard every day to build your company, or as you're building your career, you need to make careful and deliberate choices. Developing a company culture that works is one of those growing pains that every successful business experiences.


About Joel G. Block, President of Growth-Logic, Inc.
Often dubbed a "Growth Architect" by his clients, Joel Block advises companies on explosive growth strategies by driving revenue and sales. Well known in the capital markets, Joel is a successful entrepreneur, speaker and advisor. To bring Joel into your company, please visit or