Guest Post – Relationships Trump All

From Pat Nugent, www.patricianugenttextiles.com

After returning last week from Printsource, an international print and pattern market for textile and surface designers, I was struck again at how much fun it is to work face-to-face with people. I was reminded of how critical it is to work one-on-one with customers. In person, I’m able to see reactions to what we are showing, to ask questions about what they need, what they want to find to improve their products and — most importantly — how to help them be successful designers.

Driving dark does not work – Even if you know where you want to go

Most everyone appreciates the importance of having a vision and clear goals.  Unfortunately, they are not enough to get you where you want to go.

Say for example your company vision is to provide the best customer service in your market space and your goal is to grow 12% per year.  You put lots of energy into communicating, resourcing and reinforcing these aspirations.  You must in order to make your vision and goals come true.  More is required however.

Vision and high level goals alone will not unleash the performance power latent in your team.  Unless people know exactly what is expected of them and how their contributions align with the bigger picture they will underperform.  Not because they are poor employees.  Rather because they have poor leadership.

People need and deserve to know exactly what is expected and how they are doing on a daily basis.  I call this a “closed loop”.   If people know what is being measured, why it is important and what their score is they will often times surprise you on the upside.  In contrast, working into an “open loop” is demoralizing.  Like driving in the dark.  Generally going in the right direction but without confidence.  Without motivation to drive faster.  Without feedback you are on the right track.  Sometimes ending up in the ditch.

Make sure everyone in your organization is working into a closed loop.  Provide simple, personalized performance feedback (daily, weekly, monthly metrics) and celebrate continuous improvement.   Driving with lights on is more fun, safer and much more likely to get everyone safely to your intended destination.

Craig Williamson
Owner
MM Comfort Systems