Passing The Ball


When I hear someone say they are passing the ball, I think of the game of Basketball.  In basketball no one person is in charge of winning the game, it is a team effort.  The same would go for a relay race where the runners pass the baton.  Each decision on when to pass is the key to winning, and in the world of business we should take the time to consider when to pass too.

“I think we’ll pass…..” is an over used reason not to consider an alternative method for getting things done, or for accepting help.  It says to the receiver that for some unknown reason, (or one I’m not sharing with you) that we are not interested.  At times it makes sense to pass up an idea or help if you cannot afford the different path.  But what happens when there is no cost involved.

Every once in a while I feel generous with my time because I see a company struggling with something that I know I can fix, and when fixed it would allow them to move forward.  Kind of like knowing how to unplug a dam in the river to get the water moving again.  So I offer my assistance without any fee.

Recently I noticed a local bank trying to hire a training manager.  They have been looking for over three months, and in southern California it should not take that long with our high unemployment.  I offered to talk with the HR Manager by phone so I would better understand their needs, and then find among my many contacts people who could fit their needs.

The response was, “thank you for your kind offer, but I think we’ll pass…….” which of course means we are not interested and we are not telling you why.

Now I’m not upset at losing business because I wasn’t going to charge them anything.  I just know that when the decision was made to hire a training manager, at the same time the decision was made to develop employees.  The longer it takes to find a training manager, the longer the delay in developing the staff.  I wanted to help them remove the dam blocking the flow of the river.

I guess the idea of helping people pro bono is thought to only occur in the world of attorneys, so when others do it there must be an ulterior motive.  My motive was to build goodwill, and maybe get business in the future or a referral.  Neither is guaranteed and this HR Manager should have taken me up on the free help.  She has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

“I think we’ll pass” allows the hiring process to linger.  My guess is there is no urgency to hire a training manager, which is too bad since a lot of employees lose out the longer this process takes.

The next time you are all set to pass on an idea, or assistance from someone, please take the time to reflect on how you win or lose.  In basketball, knowing when to pass the ball or hang on to it can make all the difference to who will win the game, and in business the results are not all that different.

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