We have all had to adapt to technology to meet virtually which has changed the way we do business but now is the time to get out, renew aquaintances and build new relationships.
Now I love technology for the huge amount of up to the minute information it gives you and for that sense of having your hand on the pulse of your organisation. It enables you to make timely decisions to respond to a changing landscape and monitor the results as they are happening. So all good then, well this is only part of the picture. No matter what size of organisation you lead, you need to get out of your chair and interact with your employees, clients and suppliers. Let’s look at each of these and I will explain why.
- Employees – successful leaders have a good relationship with their employees at all levels of the organisation. They are able to have a comfortable conversation that extends beyond business matters which demonstrates a real interest in the individual. This could be at a water cooler or just on a tour of the facility. Walking the floor gives you a real opportunity to observe what is happening all around you, a view that you do not get from your desk. Be interested in what they are doing and ask for suggestions, they may share valuable insights that do not filter up to management.
- Customers/clients – how often do you meet your clients and not just the very important ones. Learn what motivates and what frustrates them, information that is only available in one to one conversations. Casual meetings where you have a genuine interest in people and are not seen to be selling can give you huge insights into your own organisation. Too often leaders are remote from their own customers and do not understand the barriers that have inadvertently been placed that hinder sales.
- Suppliers – are often left out of the equation but are vitally important to your success. When did you last visit their facility and meet the people on the ground who handle your supplies. When was the last time you shared the challenges you have and took time out to understand theirs. A two way flow of information may open up new opportunities and give you the edge over a competitor. You might be surprised what you learn and may gain insights into cost saving alternatives.
- Industry Bodies and Regulators – do you have regular meetings to see what is happening and perhaps to get insights that may not be included in written communications. Could there be regulations coming down the track or changes in policy that may have an influence on your strategic direction. Casual conversations over a coffee may prove far more insightful that emails going back and forth.
In essence I am talking about gathering information which is the responsibility of every employee. This is about instilling the right culture within the organisation which requires leadership and that comes from the top. Technology is a fantastic tool but it does not replace feet on the ground and the value of the intel it delivers.
Don’t forget to check out my latest weekly radio interview on You and Your Business which broadcasts every Friday at 12.30pm on 103.2 Dublin City FM. Click below.