We have run variations of this article through the years because it’s something all of us could stand to hear on a regular basis. For those not old enough to remember, "Can Do" was a popular 50's expression that articulated an entire nation's conviction that an individual’s will is pretty much all that’s needed to overcome life’s challenges. More than a cliché, "Can Do" is a statement of expectation. Expectation that you can rely on what I say and that I will do what needs to be done. Was life really so simple in times past? Isn’t it sad how we have lost the expectation that anything is possible if we want it enough and are willing to work hard enough? An important concept to keep in mind concerning this positive attitude is that what’s true of the whole is not necessarily true of the specific, i.e., you can control your own little world and let everyone else do their own thing. That’s important because good times or bad, your attitude, coupled with planning and action will deliver better results than others will likely see.

People will surprise you. Given proper leadership and reachable goals amazingly good things can happen. What about your company?


I frequently hear from managers who assign work to their associates with an ever-increasing concern as to whether the task will be completed on time and without problems. More and more, people assigned tasks are not performing them either completely or in a timely manner. This is even more of a problem when that person is also an independent contractor. If your company has this problem, whose fault is it, what can you do about it and what should be your reasonable expectations? Answers to these questions and others are vital to your sales and financial success.

No manager should have to worry that his sales staff, salaried or commissioned, won’t follow clearly articulated instructions; but, they do. Certainly, you must be reasonable in your assignment of tasks in direct proportion to how you compensate an individual. I have no problem assigning tasks to even a fully commissioned individual when it is tied directly to his/her success. Communicating this importance and getting buy in is fundamental to staying on the same page. Consistency is a key issue for managers to keep in mind. When training new hires, clearly articulate the ground rules…and in writing. Establish the basis for the relationship including goals and expectations, putting all significant issues on the table. Keep surprises to a minimum. Do one more thing—tell the individual, face to face, that you will expect specific performance of agreed upon goals. Next, demonstrate your resolve through your actions. It does no good to state what you expect from the relationship up-front and then never actually hold anybody accountable. The slippery slope that you hear about so often is very much in evidence here. Start off with bad habits and you’ll never recover. Conversely, hold everyone to an understandable and comprehensive standard and people will thank you for being the best boss they ever had.

Correcting long-ignored problems can be difficult, if not impossible, to fix for two reasons:

Associates can’t understand why things that were OK in the past aren’t anymore. There might even be a sense of betrayal!

The Manager is in a no win situation. He looks bad for letting a situation go on too long, plus he loses credibility that is difficult to regain.

Keep in mind that people perform best when expectations are high, not low. Job satisfaction is highest among persons in high-energy environments that require performance. A manager that does not make sufficient demands of his staff is hoping things will work out and that improvements will magically occur without intervention. This degree of wishful thinking inevitably leads to a poor end-result and eventual employee turnover that might not have happened under stronger leadership.

Mangers are responsible for their department’s results. Given adequate authority and time in their positions; who else is there to hold accountable? For your own survival, keep in mind that your superiors may be sympathetic for a time, but if you always blame your staff, ultimately, someone is going to figure out that maybe you are the problem. It’s not hard to guess the likely result!

Your advancement and your company's well-being are inexorably linked to your ability to get things done on a timely basis. If you have others working for you, delegation is essential. With delegation comes the necessity of requiring performance. If an individual within your group resists taking responsibility it then becomes your job to educate this individual. If you are unsuccessful you must then decide if this person's positive qualities outweigh his/her negative ones. This is often very difficult for people to do, but necessary nonetheless. Never forget that almost by definition, a manager of people must deal with confrontation. If there is no confrontation, you don’t need the manager! And, don’t make excuses for people who fail to do what is reasonably required of them.

The general lack of a "Can Do" attitude amongst people today is pervasive and sad. There are so many possible reasons for a person’s poor attitude that it may seem difficult to decide where or who to blame. What can be said and what needs to be understood is that it is you that holds the key to motivating your own small portion of this world. In the world of the possible, adopt the concept of “Can Do” and make it your company’s mantra.

Good Selling!

Allan J. Feifer