Keeping your ear to the ground

As a business owner, you want to work on the business and not in the business, this allows you to focus on the bigger picture and help you accelerate the growth of your organization. Your hands-off approach does not necessarily mean that it’s a ear-off approach too. You need to be continuously tuned into your customers, your people and the environment. It is imperative that you have access to accurate and timely information.

So how do you keep a watch from sky-level and yet have your ears to the ground? I share with you a few methods that have worked for me in the past.

  • Qualitative Reports: We like to monitor numbers mostly and this reflects in our weekly and monthly reports. We set KPIs that are quantitative, so try including some qualitative parameters in your reports in addition to quantitive reports. Ask for a gist of the significant issue and its action taken as a report. Or ask to describe a new customer acquisition in a story-format. it can give you a lot of visibility that the numbers may not give.
  • Random Invitee: When having review meetings with the senior team, invite randomly an executive or manager that you do not meet regularly. The discussion could be within the group meeting or a private meeting under some pretext. This may elicit information that fails to rise to the top or gets buried intentionally.
  • Customer / Supplier Interaction: Maintain a schedule of meeting a wider section of your established, and new customers to get first-hand feedback. Repeat the same with your supplier and with other partners. A courtesy visit gives surprising insights.
  • Informal Channels: Enlist a few people in positions through which transactions flow. These may be your office-boy or receptionists who you informally chat with open questions to know what’s happening. Ensure they are not perceived as informants.
  • Checklists: you may not check everything every day but if you prepare a detailed checklist of critical points in business which mentions what/who/when and then stick to the frequency (when) of checking it, then you can get more visibility without investing much time on it.
  • Feedback Email: Establish an email that can be used to directly report issues concerning customers, products, services, suppliers. You may personally monitor this email. You may also read your company’s social media pages for the client reviews. Fears that it may be abused will easily be overshadowed by the benefits it can bring.

I hope my practical tips are of use to you.

Do you have something more to share that I could use to keep my ears to the ground? Do let me know.