Looking At Business From The Ground Up

Looking At Business From The Ground Up

It’s very easy to lose touch. Politicians, business leaders, football chairman, headmasters. Sometimes people get stuck with a perspective they are accustomed to, without gathering the thoughts of those directly impacted.

I loved watching Undercover CEO on TV. The CEO of a company works in disguise alongside junior staff to get clear un-filtered feedback on the businesses  performance and staff satisfaction. These CEO’s wanted to look at business from the ground up. Mystery Shoppers, Twitter, Get Satisfaction, YouTube, Blogs and Facebook all bring us closer to impact that businesses decisions and service have on others.

How does the public view your organisations performance? Do you truly know? The likelihood is you will know what you want to know.

The flow of information can get stuck in ‘management’ so that some leaders are not fully aware of the feelings and experiences of customers. There’s a bottleneck of communication, because if all information was to filter through, someone, somewhere would be responsible. Is anyone filtering information from you?

One quick way round this, is to see things from the ground up?

Schedule time in to work on the shop floor, drive the vans, meet the customers, manage the Twitter account for a day and read online what is written. Interface with the customer and ask them questions; lots of them. Sure, by all means use surveys, but go that one step further. Get in front of a real person and as another real person, ask and deeply want to know their thoughts. Even when it embarrasses you, makes you feel awkward or even possibly brings about a sense of conflict. It may feel messy, and the response may not be presented in language or a manner that you’re accustomed to with your staff, but it may be good to shake things up a little.

At times you may feel like it is a waste of time and energy, and you’ll think that there are more efficient ways to get an opinion, I think you’ll be surprised by the way it changes your outlook. Of course, that’s if you let it. When Politicians meet people directly in towns, villages and cities up and down the country, it’s not just a PR photo-shoot. It also does give them the capacity to hear and look at things from the ground up.

Occasionally there may be a gift of a flying egg through the air.

The message there, though not in a neatly bound report from a committee or management team, is pretty clear. What is done with that information is the next important factor.

Contrast David Clarke from Great Western Hotels with Sir Fred Goodwin from the RBS; both heads of large organisations. One CEO was completely out of touch with how the public and members of his staff viewed him. They disliked his use of funds, and the decisions he was making. The other seeing disappointing performance in his company, rolled up his sleeves to make the improvements. He became the agent for  change.

As I’ve learnt from experience, often when there are a number of people who have a similar opinion that is opposite to yours, you’d be a fool not to listen to them and where appropriate make the necessary changes.

There is a wisdom in the experiences of the masses.

When you are gifted with others observations and revelation, do something with it. It’s one thing to be out of touch, but it’s far worse to ignore what someone has risked their neck to reveal to you.