It shouldn’t be hard to determine what killed him…. Not with that unusual knife sticking out of his chest.
My new car came with SiriusXM Radio. Flipping through the channels I found old radio shows; The Avenger, Sherlock Holmes, and Fibber McGee & Molly. I grew up with television, but I remember my grandparents talking about how they enjoyed listening to these after the chores were done.
Radio shows were all about being subtly obvious with dramatic organ music announcing something is about to happen. A comment is made, and someone explains it. A new person comes into the room, and someone introduces them.
Don’t you wish business cues could be so obvious?
- A normally cheerful employee becomes silent and brooding.
- Your best customer isn’t returning phone calls.
- Your banker makes an unexpected visit.
- Orders seem to be drying up, salespeople don’t know why.
Unlike the old radio shows, there’s no narrator to explain what’s going on. You may be so busy handling the day-to-day details that you totally miss obvious and uncharacteristic clues until it’s too late.
If you’ve ever been blindsided by a situation, join the club. There are things you can do to avoid missing the obvious.
Be present in the moment
When speaking with an employee, focus on what that person is saying; watch her body language. Ask about hobbies, kids, and pets. If something seems to be bothering the person, ask about it. They may not open up, but they’ll feel better knowing you care.
Stay close to your customers
Don’t assume just because the orders keep coming in and you are being paid on time that everything is fine; things can change in a heartbeat. Maybe a new buyer is hired who wants to use their favorite suppliers. Maybe a buyer gets sick, and your orders are pushed off to an over-busy clerk who doesn’t know your history.
Another tactic for staying close to customers is to get to know people in different departments. If one contact should retire, there’s always someone who knows your capabilities and track record.
Communicate with your banker regularly
Let me explain the obvious here, sending the quarterly statements required in your covenants does NOT constitute communication – that’s basic compliance. The world of finance is becoming more complex and more regulated; what used to be done by a handshake now requires two inches of paperwork. Help your banker help you by giving her a tour or getting together a couple of times a year to elaborate on where your company is today and where you expect to be in the future.
Continually cultivate new customer relationships
Don’t get so over-comfortable with existing relationships that you stop looking for new customers. Even if your desk is overflowing with quotes, keep looking for that next new customer.
What obvious clues
should you be paying attention to?
The road is easier together,