On my way to work this morning I witnessed a car crash. I got out to help and was relieved to find that no-one had been injured – just a lot of broken glass and shattered plastic. What did interest me however was the excuse given by the person who had obviously caused the incident? He said “I never saw you because my car has a blind spot.”
Surely if he was aware that his car had a blind spot, he would have driven with more care and taken this into account when approaching the roundabout? But no, he didn’t, and that led to an avoidable accident. This got me thinking about my own position within life and business. Do I have any blind spots that I have somehow chosen to ignore – or worse – I’m not actually aware off?
As a business owner, I have a responsibility to myself, my staff and my shareholders to ensure that I run a smooth profitable operation. This means I am in the position of overseeing all areas of my business, but this is far too time consuming – so I employ people to run my departments for me. I have to trust that the information I get back from them is the ‘full picture’. If something is going wrong, I need to be the first to know. There is a problem with this – most people do not like to admit when something is going wrong. Some may attempt to fix the problem themselves, some may choose to cover it up and hope it goes away or nobody notices. Ultimately though, most problems make themselves apparent – but this is often too late, and the ‘the accident’ has already happened!
So what can YOU do to reduce these business blind spots?
Supervise the staff. Supervise the supervisors. You need them to know that you need to be informed of anything that may affect the future of my organisation. That doesn’t mean yu have to know about every minute detail – but it does require your staff to report back to you with as clear a picture of their situation as they can make it.
Provide them with a mechanism to report back any problems – this could be as simple as an end of day report by email, or a one page form reported at the end of their shift. The form should include standard questions that prompt the member of staff to look at elements of their job from different angles. If a machine is broken, it should be notified straight away – not brought up fifteen minutes before it is needed for the next run.
Remind staff regularly of their responsibilities – what the company expects of them and what limitations they may have (authority etc.) Staff work better and more efficiently when they know exactly what is expected of them.
Start with a list of all areas of your business that you ‘think’ you are familiar with – and go pay them a visit. Ask them questions about what they are doing – from a constructive point of view. Learn more about their jobs and the problems they face. Encourage your staff to point out flaws, not just walk by and ignore. Ask for updates every day.