Over the last couple of weeks, Locum People was approached to assist three different clients in three different industries. All were having problems with their Melbourne-based staff, and all had their head offices interstate (2 in Sydney and one in Brisbane). Staff were feeling stressed, harassed and in one case were clearly being bullied by their Sydney-based management.
At the heart of all three cases were interstate management not understanding what was really happening in locked-down Melbourne. Sales results were very poor as were sales activity levels. After all, it's hard to cold call when one is not allowed leave one's 5km radius and customers' workplaces are shut anyway.
In one case, the Sydney-based manager was refusing to believe that his reps could not visit customers. The company operates in the pharma space and as such is considered an essential service, so in his mind his reps should still be out seeing customers as they were in Sydney and Brisbane. The reality was that Melbourne GPs were largely doing telehealth calls and had banned all non-medical staff (reps) from their offices (to minimise cross contamination). Similarly hospitals have also banned all non-medical personnel.
This sales manager's approach was to start harassing his Melbourne staff, demanding they maintain their call rates. As sales started to fall off he refused to believe the reasons demand had dropped. He was calling them liars and accusing them of laziness. 2 of the 4 reps filed workcover claims for stress, and a third laid a formal bullying claim against the company, which having seen the evidence will stack up. It's a real mess, and one that was completely avoidable.
When Locum People questioned the manager as to why he did not believe his reps, he said he's been reading the news and thought Covid 19 was just a beat up and that his Victorian reps were just using it as an excuse. He of course had not been to Melbourne - the border is shut.
Locum People counseled the staff via Zoom, and the manager involved but the damage has been done. The company has a zero tolerance policy for bullying. His manager (the company's MD) gave the sales manager an official written warning, which in turn prompted his resignation. With that result the sales people are now back on deck as much as they can be.
The moral of the story here is that if you're an interstate-based manager and your people and results are down in Victoria, use common sense. Have some compassion... and most importantly, don't believe everything you read in tabloid newspapers. As shown in this case - it may not be their fault and it may not end up being them who leaves the company.
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