This Is What Doers Do

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Doers are those disruptive game-changers in every organization who are simultaneously envied by coworkers and feared by competitors. They provide the initiative for new ideas and the energy that drives productivity. Result oriented, they work diligently and attract the attention of their superiors, subordinates, and co-workers alike with their awesome outcomes.

Doers expand their sphere of influence by creating informal, cross-functional communication networks that serve as reliable sources of accurate and timely information. Employees who display these behaviors are eagerly sought after and highly prized in a corporate culture where performance counts.

Such is not the case, however, in workplaces where taking the initiative violates cultural norms. Stories of Doers who have suffered as the result of exceeding expectations are commonplace.

Here is one example. Frustrated by the lack of earning potential, the top salesman for a Chicago-based merchandizer accepted an offer from a competitive California firm to promote their expanding product line.

All went well until he scheduled an out-of-town meeting with a prospective buyer on the same day as the company’s charity golf tournament. His action had mixed results. Although he closed the biggest deal the company had ever known, he was fired upon his return. Missing the most important public relations event of the year in the eyes of his employer was evidence that he was not a team player.

He was not unemployed for long. When he contacted the company that had just placed the big order to let them know why he would no longer be handling their account, they hired him to open the door for their west coast expansion. In short order his sales records exceeded their expectations.

Delighted with his performance, they promoted him to national sales director, which came with a handsome salary and an executive suite at their Minneapolis headquarters. Being responsible for the actions of others, moving back to the mid-west, and living on a fixed income did not appeal to him. So, he turned them down. They immediately terminated his contract.

All was not lost. Realizing their mistake, his previous employer hired him back. It was not long before he was setting new sales records, which earned him lucrative commissions. As his compensation approached that of upper management, they revised the incentive plan in an attempt to control his future earnings. The change did not slow him down. Desperate to limit his income, they put him on a fixed salary. Realizing he was fighting a losing battle, he resigned.

Like many achievers who naively assume that performance is all that matters, the Doer in this story suffered the consequences of misaligned expectations. He was blindsided by his unawareness of how he was perceived by those who controlled his paycheck. He was so focused on getting things done that he missed the signals that his behavior was unacceptable.

Fortunately, he learned from this string of unhappy endings and became very successful at finding Doer-friendly workplaces where his achievements were highly valued and richly rewarded.

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