In business, it’s easy to imagine that, because you’re not getting any complaints, you’re providing a great product or service. But, the larger your business gets, the harder it is to know for sure. It’s so easy to focus on the technical aspects, the processes, and logistics.
Because if you get those nailed, everyone will be happy. Right? Not quite. I’ve seen many businesses with really great products and services, fail to win targeted prospects.
They all missed a basic fact.
People are business.
Whatever you buy or sell starts, and ends, with people. Customers, suppliers, and employees all have needs, thoughts, emotions, and relationships. It’s all too easy to think you know these people, who they are, what they do, their skills and their achievements.
But that’s when you begin to fail.
Just because your workforce isn’t complaining doesn’t mean they are happy. Just because customers are buying your stuff doesn’t mean they love it. And just because your suppliers are turning up with the goods, doesn’t mean that you’ve got a great relationship with them.
It takes courage to stand back and recognize that.
So how do you fix it, and harness all that people-power?
Well, not by imposing your ideas and systems on them, that’s for sure. Not by selling them stuff that you think is great. And not by assuming that the information you already possess about them is accurate. It’s out of date, pretty much, as soon as you’ve gathered it.
Engage your people constantly, celebrate their achievements, listen to their ideas, and empower them to act. Have the courage to hear any criticism, and don’t have a ‘too difficult to deal with’ attitude.
Talk to your customers regularly. Ask them what keeps them awake at night, and what their dreams are. Better still, get your people to do it, they’re closer. Find out what they really like about what you do, and what they don’t.
Consult your suppliers early to help meet your customer’s stated aspirations. Better still, introduce them to your customers. Pay them on time, or even early, so they can stop worrying about it and use all that energy to improve what they do.
All of this takes real investment. I’m talking about time. I’m talking about face to face contact. I’m talking about questioning, listening, and acting. That’s where you’ll add value because that’s how you capture all the amazing things that you didn’t know you didn’t know!