In the fall of 2001, Richard Harrington visited a few of his employees to see how they were faring after the attack on New York’s World Trade Center.

The CEO of the Thomson Corp. had employees who were much closer to ground zero than was the staff of the Accountants Media Group. But the fact that the head of a multi-billion dollar corporation could take the time to visit a unit of fewer than 20 people made an impression.

That day came to mind as the executive team of Sage Software is making its way around the country, meeting with its resellers, including a presentation scheduled for today in New York.

This includes Nina Smith, president of the Business Management Division, and Paul Johnson, the division’s very new EVP of sales.

One reseller, who attended an earlier session of the road tour, said there wasn’t much new information. But that wasn’t the most important comment.

“This wouldn’t have happened with Ron Verni,” the reseller said.

Verni, of course, was the CEO forced out earlier this year, along with three other senior executives.

It’s a comment that has been made before. One of Sage’s Top Ten resellers said in October that Verni had never set foot in his office and couldn’t remember his name the day after he handed the reseller a major award at a Sage conference.

This points to the change of culture that Paul Walker, CEO of the parent, Sage Ltd., said he was seeking to accomplish in replacing the executive team. Among private comments that have been made about that culture was that management was arrogant and people who made suggestions that it didn’t agree with were sometimes punished.

Certainly, changing culture involves a lot of different techniques. But few management tools have greater impact than giving employees and business associates personal attention—in person.

Managers and executives sometimes believe they don’t have the time to give such personal attention.

Thomson’s Web site shows the corporation has 32,000 employees. And I wonder how many people are busier than Dick Harrington which he chose to visit a score of those in 2001?

 

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