Blind spot!

If your company is selling services and knowhow, your biggest asset are the people who serve and bring in their knowledge. If your people leave, your service leaves.

Sales. Revenue. Profit. The reason business is done. But what actually impacts the financial success of a company?

Just recently I heard a conversation in the train going like this: “I would have loved to pitch for that project! It’s totally our topic! Unfortunately I had to withdraw from the request for proposal because the key resources on that topic just left the company and we had no one with the same knowledge.”

I was stunned. How would you even consider a topic to be “yours” if there is no one available in your company!?

This obvious mismatch wasn’t visible for the business man in the conversation. He was convinced that his company was selling topics – and didn’t even consider that people could be the key for financial success.

Blind spot!

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a blind spot an area you cannot see and draws an analogy to driving a car. It is quite obvious how dangerous it is when you are entering a part of the road you were not able to see and all of a sudden there is an obstacle. The realization of that danger makes your heart bump and you are bright awake and ready to change directions.

blind spot

noun [C usually singular ] UK /ˈblaɪnd ˌspɒt/ US /ˈblaɪnd ˌspɑːt/

an area that you are not able to see, especially the part of a road you cannot see when you are driving, behind and slightly to one side of the car

Cambridge Dictionary

This awareness in context of companies and people is rarely given. You seldom see managers make a mayor change in their people management even when they see obstacles ahead – e.g. declining of sales or rise of attrition.

There is another definition for blind spot that is quite helpful in bringing in a new perspective.

a subject that you find very difficult to understand at all, sometimes because you are not willing to try

Cambridge Dictionary

When you are facing failure in business, e.g. the missed proposal of the mentioned story, it is easier to focus on aspects that you are familiar with [“that is our topic”], than on aspects that are much harder to understand [“we missed to keep our key resources” or “we missed on training new people in that knowledge”]. But an honest reflection in the sight of failure can work miracles for you.

If your company is selling services and knowhow, your biggest asset are the people who serve and bring in their knowledge. If the people leave, your service leaves. If your people are not trained, your company will deliver poor quality. Ultimately you will see the effect in your P&L.

Let me challenge you a bit:

  • How do you see your people?
  • Do you think they actually like working for you?
  • What could you do to keep your people in your business?

We all have blind spots every once in a while. Let’s make sure that we don’t keep them due to laziness to check on them and unwillingness to change. Because when it already has an effect on your P&L, it is quite late to take turns.

Will your tombstone inspire others?

Make sure your name is associated with positive attributes that people love to remember.

Lately I had a chat with a colleague coming from another continent – consequently having an unfamiliar name to an European ear. Immediately he was offering a German name as substitute. Since the name was so special – lets say old-school – I asked him laughing why he had chosen it. “Easy”, he said, “I went jogging on the graveyard regularly and I saw that particular name so often on tombstones that I got inspired to pick it for myself.” 

“Wow. Inspired by a tombstone”, I thought – not sure whether to be impressed or awkwardly moved. 

And then my thoughts began to wander… what will be written on my tombstone when the day of tombstone-necessity comes? Will it be inspiring? With what characteristics do I want to be remembered? 

While I continued thinking, I realized that positive remembrance is not limited to death – actually I can recall several leaders in my life whose major attributes I easily can determine and whose attitude impressed me in a way that I wanted to be like them in that particular behavior. If I had to sum up what made them special, most certainly I put on the list: authentic behavior, a trustworthy charisma and interest in people. 

Authentic Behavior 

Despite the fact that I didn’t like all facets of my leaders, I could always rely on their authenticity. The mixture of strengths and flaws made them unique, approachable and – simply put – human. They used to communicate when they were having a bad day. So it was easy to know that a more quiet behavior didn’t mean that there is a problem around. 

In addition, all of them had a basic set of behaviour you could rely on. They were approachable for team members, always open-minded and friendly. One leader put it this simple: don’t scream at people and don’t throw stuff. 

Don’t scream at people and don’t throw stuff. 

A Leader

Trustworthy Charisma 

People I can recall as influential leaders in my life all had a certain charisma. I don’t think of an unspecific atmosphere or esoteric type of feeling, but rather a respect that rose in people who have worked with these people over a longer period of time. Foremost this respect was fueled by a predictability of the leaders behaviour. Everyone knew how this person would react to a specific situation (mainly calm, well-thought-through but clear), and this predictability would allow team members to take decisions. Team members could predict whether they will have the backing of their boss – and this led to freedom, respect and trust. 

Interest in people

Last but not least, leaders I recall as inspiring always had an interest in me. And in others. They “saw” their team and spoke to people on an individual level. It’s probably one of the hardest parts – having an intense job with extreme responsibilities and still take time to show interest in people. To stop at the coffee kitchen for 30 seconds just to ask how it is going or to pad someone shoulder for great work the day before. 

But if you think back – you remember the names of exactly those people. People who saw you. People who were interested in you and your well-being. 

And even when their names will be written on a tombstone, they will be remembered.