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Cross-Lining Stunts Growth
This episode is going to be a bit on psychology. This is based on an event that happened a couple of days ago in our office. There was a situation where the managers had a meeting and one of the managers got mentally full. It’s like you’ve been working all day and all of a sudden, your spouse comes home and says, “You have to help your son for the next two and a half hours do his book report.” You’re like, “I have no ATP left in my brain. I have no way to compute or calculate or read. I’m so cooked.” You then find out, “I’ve got to do it.” You suck it up, you get a bite to eat, go for a walk and all of a sudden, you find a way to get through it.
The point is there is a lot to be said for being mentally full. I can’t tell you how many podcasts I’ve done where I’ve made the mentions that have come from the greatest books in the world, especially Think and Grow Rich, where it has covered thoroughly the importance of stopping, thinking and meditating and taking some time off. Sometimes we get to a point where we are so mentally full and then we walk into a meeting and somebody either tries to dump more responsibility on you or ask you to do something and you just blow up.Negative word of mouth travels ten times faster than positive word of mouth. Click To Tweet
We had a situation where a guy that’s been with us for a long time was in a meeting and one or two people at the same time said, “Let’s give this to so and so.” This guy just went nuts and he’s like, “I can’t do this and here’s why and this and that.” He started saying negative things about his division, his boss, different things going on and requests he’s made that haven’t got answered. He was what’s called puking and a couple of people in the room started smiling and texting me that this individual is not necessarily having a good day and he might want to go home. An hour later I called a Skype meeting with him and a couple others. I covered a topic that I’m going to cover right now and I created what’s called the paradigm shift. I’m actually proud of myself. I did such a good job. He said, “Can we get off the Skype call? I’d like to reconvene everybody that was in that meeting. I want to apologize to them and provide them with some new information.” It was very strong. He got that meeting in the company back on track and it was powerful.
I want to cover what I did on that little Skype meeting after the folks texted me that this individual might want to just go home and watch television for the day. There is a phrase in business called cross lining. Cross lining is when somebody in the company is thinking negatively. He reaches out to anybody that is not their boss and says something negative about their situation, the company, their boss, in any way, shape or form. It’s something negative. It doesn’t matter what it is. The concept is in business, negative can only go upline. Negative can never go side to side and it can certainly never go down. I want everybody to imagine an org chart where there is a head of sales and then there are three branch managers below that person. Each branch manager has five sales reps. You’ve got one person at the top, three on tier two and fifteen on tier three. That’s nineteen-person sales organization.
If somebody in the middle of that management tier has something negative, let’s say they found that their boss was gambling at lunch. They were going out and playing video poker at the local restaurant while having a beer. Let’s pretend that’s the case. If one of those middle managers goes out and says something negative to another manager like, “You’re not going to believe this. Do you know that Bob gambles all the time?” or whatever, something like that or he says it to one of his five sales reps. All of a sudden, a seed is planted. Once a seed is put in the ground, it doesn’t come up. Once the seed is planted, it gets nurtured because it gets spread. Once a seed is planted, people go, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” They can’t wait to tell somebody else. All of a sudden there’s a touch of cancer inside of that organization and cancer spreads like wildfire.
There’s a funny phrase in business that says, “Negative word of mouth travels ten times faster than positive word of mouth.” It goes back to the old woman getting a haircut and getting her hair permed. If it’s a good perm, you don’t tell a soul but if it’s a bad perm job, she tells everybody on the block. The concept is many moons ago, I think it was Thomas Watson, the founder of IBM said, “One of the greatest ways to grow a company is to stop it from dying.” Cancer meaning cross lining is one of the biggest killers of business growth. A lot of times the negative comment that is made isn’t true, isn’t verified or quite frankly was miscommunicated. It could very well be that maybe that guy was playing video poker, maybe he was having a beer, but maybe he was at a business meeting where the only way the guy would talk to him to do a deal is if he sat next to him in a video poker unit and had a beer with him. I’m not making that up. That’s a version of a very true story.One of the greatest ways to grow a company is to stop it from dying. - Thomas Watson, Founder of IBM Click To Tweet
The concept is this. What if you do have news or something in you that you want to say that’s not positive, it’s negative? What do you do with it? It’s simple. You only go to your boss with it. What if it is about your boss? Then you go to your boss’ boss. You go up with the negative news, you do not go side to side. The question is, what did I say in this Skype meeting that got this person to want to run back with everybody in that meeting that he clearly now realized he polluted with negative information? Here’s how this was set up. This person did not understand how this newer division was going to roll out quick enough and hit a goal within 90 days. In his mind, he thought it would take eighteen months to do certain things. I quickly realized this person’s probably under pressure. He probably thinks he’s not going to have the right armament, tools and financial resources to get something done. I had to guess that the only reason he could be snarky is if he didn’t see the full picture.
What I did is I had a meeting and I said to this person, “Can I share with you exactly how we’re going to hit this objective by December 31st?” I opened up my Skype screen, I shared my screen and I said, “First of all, we have these resources,” that got his attention. I said, “Number two, we have these platforms to roll this out on.” He didn’t know of any one of the four. I said, “Most importantly, do you see these fifteen people right here? They work out of an office in Orlando, Florida. They now work for us. They’re the ones who are going to deploy this.” He was speechless. He was dumbstruck. He goes, “Obviously, I’m mistaken.”
He didn’t know I knew what happened, what went down and he goes, “I told the whole company that this objective is virtually impossible, that Ken is crazy.” He goes, “I clearly see that I’m the idiot here and I need to go back and apologize to these folks because this is exciting.” He went back into the meeting, got everybody together and 100% of the people in that meeting had a complete paradigm shift. They went from thinking, “Maybe Ken’s finally met his match. He’s not going to grow this division in 90 days as he says. Maybe Ken is slipping.” That was the thought of everybody unanimously leaving that meeting, except the two guys that were laughing. Now 100% of the people realized, “We’re going to hit that number. We’re going to build that unit, that division, this is going to be exciting.” They clearly see how it’s going to happen and they accepted this person’s apology.
The point is this. A lot of times when you want to say something negative or somebody wants to come to you with something negative, if that negative isn’t brought upline, it can be incredibly destructive. If I didn’t catch this person and I let the seven other people leave that meeting thinking this division is destined for failure, it might have failed because they didn’t see the big picture and they wouldn’t have helped out when those fifteen people ended up calling them for help. The point of this podcast is cross lining is cancer. If you catch people cross lining in your company, you need to stop it immediately. If you’ve never taught this principle inside your company, I would urge you to teach this principle and don’t make the mistake I made. I haven’t taught this principle in over two years.
I have probably 40 new employees but I have never heard this message. I have to get a meeting on the books to teach every new person what does this mean, why is this important. It’s great in a family setting and in any kind of business, any social setting. Cross lining is dangerous because it’s a lot of gossips, it’s a lot of, “He said, she said.” 80% of self-talk is negative. If somebody takes a seed of something and runs with it, it’s probably going to get twisted to a negative state very soon. In the telephone game when someone tells someone, who tells someone, who tells somebody, it gets diluted and ugly fast. I hope this helps. Cross lining only goes upstream. Take care.