Boss takes leap of faith

Brian Hayward

SOME CEOs hold team meetings. Others shout. But Denton Goodford, the head of national insurer Multisure – which is based in Port Elizabeth – has chosen to motivate staff to give an extra push for sales at the end of a tough year by vowing to bungee jump 216m off Bloukrans Bridge – if employees somehow manage to exceed last year’s sales.

A dismal 2013, thanks to an ailing national and global economy, has forced CEOs to take extreme measures to motivate staff, Goodford says.

In an e-mail to Multisure Corporation’s staff and independent consultants (marketers of the company’s products who work from home), Goodford announced “The CEO Challenge” – that if staff and consultants reached or broke last year’s sales targets, he would bungee jump off the world’s highest commercial bungee bridge, the 216m high Bloukrans Bridge along the Garden Route in the southern Cape.

To sweeten the challenge advocate-turned-entrepreneur Goodford, whose phobia for heights means he has never bungee jumped before, said he would jump dressed as Father Christmas.

“It’s been a tough year for everyone, and when I thought about how to motivate staff to act extraordinarily in very dismal circumstances, I thought about a challenge which would make them come together as well as make them laugh,” said Goodford, who in the early 2000s retired his advocate’s gown and entered the legal insurance industry. Multisure has subsequently also started offering funeral cover.

“I feel fairly confident it won’t come to me having to jump as we are still way off last year’s target, but since I informed staff and ICs of the challenge, there has been a significant surge in new applications (for Multisure products),” said Goodford.

“The team has been saying how they’re going to pull out all the stops to beat last year’s sales. They want to see me jump, and now I’m getting rather nervous!”

According to Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber CEO Kevin Hustler, the dismal economy in 2013 had forced businesses to become creative in motivating staff.

In a news- letter to staff and marketers, Multisure marketing assistant Kate Saunders-Puntis said: “Now, we at the office don’t know about you, but we can’t let a comment like that go. We think we should make Denton jump.”

Multisure also has offices in Johannesburg, Cape Town and East London, with offices to open in Durban and Bloemfontein.

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