We spend so much time focusing on what is VitaL to your customers and the growth of your business, yet we spend little time acknowledging what’s NOT VitaL… below is the official unscientific VitaLincs list of UnVitaLness:
1) Doing Dumb Stuff With Your SmartPhone:
…like checking it constantly while you are in a meeting or worse, while having a 1-1 conversation. Sure, you’re important and of course you need to be on call and alert in the unlikely event that your CEO needs you to drop everything and personally mend a ruptured oil well. But, by doing so, you say that you are more important than everyone else. BUT it is YOU that loses out — on learning, on building meaningful relationships, and your own peace of mind. And besides which… it’s rude!
Since we brought the topic up, let’s face it, most of them are meaningless and become exhibitions of power. But you can prepare so you can get maximum effect and focus on what you’ve been hired to do — grow your business. No meeting should last more than an hour (actually 5 minutes in my book!). So, if you’re running the meeting prepare and anticipate in advance – clear agenda, clear time limits, clear next steps. And if you are attending meetings of a notorious rambler – prepare in advance your crisp input, perspective, recommendations, and… your exit strategy — The more time spent in a meeting, the more detached you become from your customers.
3) Status Reports:
I had a boss once that on my first day said if I sent him a status report he would fire me – followed up with “I will know if you are doing your job – I don’t need any of my employees spending time making it look like they are doing their job.” Of course, management requires reports — but the message is they should never be an end to themselves. Spend time in the field, grow advocates, grow the business – the word will get back. Plus it’s more fun being out there.
4) Town Hall Meetings:
Do you see a trend with this list? All the “stuff” that makes up internal theater is just that… theater! The notion of management getting in front of employees and mixing it up is a great idea. In many companies, Town Hall meetings are nothing more than a staged event, with every comment prepared well in advance through the Spin Doctors. Your employees see right through that and they deserve more… they deserve real truth, real authenticity, and real leadership. They’ll appreciate you for it and you’ll digest your food better.
5) Buzz words:
Every industry has them and it becomes a test of who really is in the know. So ask yourself, do your customers use those words? If not, why are you? Just another wedge that will drive you from truly associating with your customer’s values.
6. Your Perks:
Let’s face it, being able to stay in high end hotels, having your name on a card with a limo driver at the airport is very cool. And this isn’t to espouse that you should self flagellate and punish yourself. But if that is not the lifestyle of your customers, or your employees try to mix in a little balance. An occasional subway or bus ride won’t kill you – consider it a “listening tour”… plus, it’s a lot cheaper!
This really refers to micro-management. If you were hired to lead, then lead! If you were hired to manage, then manage! If you were hired to do then do! If you are in any position where you have staff or support under you, it is a wonderful privilege. Set clear goals, expectations, and check points. Let them do their jobs and you will do yours better. Makes those performance discussions a lot more objective.
8) Managing by Fear:
When you do so, you rip out the passion in your staff, and ultimately desensitize them. Plus, bad habits become bad habits for others. And worse, when you get fired, people actually throw a party!
9) Your “Wall of Shame”:
Pictures on your wall with celebs, politicos, etc at various boondoggles? Or maybe its your postings of the same on FaceBook, Instagram, etc? They all can say, “I’m more important than you!” I once had a boss with an outsized ego whose wall was plastered with him and every celeb imaginable. I said, “Bill, when you leave here you can open up a deli!” (I actually meant it as a compliment). 2 weeks later every picture was down. The more you do this, the less likely you feel you are serving others – try at least mixing it with pictures with field employees, customer service reps, and customers… you’ll realize who the real celebrities in your business are!
10) Team Building Offsites:
Seems strange for someone who makes a living of facilitating offsites to say this. And I’m all for them… if it brings you and your employees closer together with your customers and you come out of it with real actions to grow your business. But if they are nothing more than Terror In Casual Sweaters, then who is kidding who? This should not be a test of who says the right thing, looks the part, has the best casual wardrobe, who has to check their phone more often (see point 1) etc. If you’re going to have them, schedule some true thinking time, encourage folks to mine those “diamonds in the rough”, mix up the senior execs with entry level folks, and maybe even include some customers. “And Most of all, let everyone have some fun!”