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Why everyone should have a Hothouse Tuesday

Dear friend,

As I was saying last Friday, I was wandering around the fabulous new Willis building in London last week as a guest of the firm.

It’s nice being given a guided tour — you don’t have to do anything for yourself — people have planned everything out for you. So provided you’re not the sort of person who is unable to abrogate any control under any circumstances, it is quite a pleasurable and relaxing experience

It’s also a bit like being back at school because it gives you the ability to misbehave.

Whilst on the tour, we were shown all the funky parts of the building — the roof terraces, the gym, the client dining rooms, the auditorium and the staff cafeteria. Halfway through the tour we finally got a glimpse of where the workers hang out, and this was where the law of unintended consequences finally and rather amusingly kicked in.

One of my colleagues had heard a rumour about a sales initiative that Willis was planning in its UK operations — codename “Hothouse Tuesday”. And until we meandered onto that trading floor it was just that — a rumour.

(People tell journalists all sorts of things all of the time, assuming that we’ll just print the story without checking it out first.)

But as we were shown into a post room/coffee area a poster gave my colleague all the confirmation he needed.

“ARE YOU READY FOR HOTHOUSE TUESDAY?” challenged the headline, (or at least I think that’s what I remember the words were).

My colleague did a great job of keeping a straight face whilst pretending to be interested in the building’s highly efficient services pod or whatever it was we were being shown.

When he told me (I had been dawdling and gawping out of the window at the fantastic view of London) I had to rush back to have a look, sneaking away from the group, using my mobile phone as cover. And there it was – rumours confirmed and stories straightened – all at Willis’ invitation.

So what’s it all about?

Well, tomorrow ‘Hothouse Tuesday’ begins as UK firm’s client facing employees get forced to cold-call prospective and existing clients. Yuck!

Our weekly UK sister title Post understands the move has not been met with universal approval internally, and instead has upset some staff members who claim it belittles their skills and experience.

I can see how this would be annoying! I tried telesales once and lasted about half a day.

But on closer analysis it sounds like a bit of culture-shifting psychology — and a clever move to boot.

If you make everyone in a company painfully aware of how hard it can be to win new customers, then they’ll probably make sure they do their best to look after existing customers when you release them from their Hothouse duties and they get back to their day job.

It may antagonise some (or, come to think of it, all), but it’s always good to let everyone in a company know where the money comes from!

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