Identifying Your Threats

So many times in our businesses we look at the outside to identify our biggest threats, aka our problems. We are always thinking about what the next best software is that will better our processes, or how we need to find the next best piece of equipment because it will solve this issue we’re having. Don’t get me wrong, technology is awesome. Machines and tools help us to accomplish a lot. However, ask yourself, are they a crutch? Do they keep you from looking at yourself first if there is a problem in your organization?

Is an SEO tool really helping if you don’t really understand how SEO works?

Often we forget to self-reflect. We allow technology, equipment, and tools to hide the real problems. The real problems aren’t external, but internal. It’s easy to point the finger. It’s easy to pass the blame, but true growth and betterment comes from believing the truth about me and you.

No one is perfect, and if you meet a person who thinks that they have achieved perfection it’s safe to say that they are far away from it. And with that being said, knowing that we have faults makes it easier to see our problems. So, let me give you some examples of my faults and how they have turned into success by looking at myself as the cause.

I began finding that my time was consumed with talking with my staff. I was constantly being asked what to do in very simple and minor situations. This was a problem because my time was taken up answering questions and doing part of other people’s jobs. I became extremely inefficient. So, I began thinking that we either had a bad customer management system, or that we were not having enough internal meetings. As I was talking with a good friend about this problem, I discovered that there are two ways to give your staff guidelines.

The first is through osmosis, which means that you pass your values and culture to staff members by working directly with them. They only learn through direct contact with you.

The second is through writing.

My good friend said, “you know Michael, passing on a business’s culture and values through osmosis is a really bad way to educate your people.” He then explained to me how the only way that my employees, staff and people could learn our values and culture was to work directly with me because they could not learn them any other way. I soon learned that whatever is not written is not communicated, learned, and acted upon.

I realized that my problem of constantly being derailed by questions was because of how I passed on the information in the first place. It only occurred through direct contact. It was not written and thus could not be referenced by the staff when I was not around to talk with them or communicate what needed to be done. I then began to write the company values and culture down and made them available to the entire staff. The problem was solved just like that. People sought me less, asked me less questions, and could perform their everyday tasks without talking with me about the right or wrong way to handle their work.

There is a saying that behind every tornado is a butterfly. In other words the small little bit of air that a butterfly disturbs by flapping its wings leads to a tornado later on down the road. Communicating the company’s values and culture through osmosis created problems because my staff always needed a reference for decision making and the only reference available was me. They were left powerless to make their own decisions about certain situations simply because they did not have clear guidelines they could reference at all times. The little butterfly of me not writing down our values and culture created a pretty big problem that affected the entire company.

It is important to check yourself first, not your technology, not your tools, and not your systems. Most of the time our problems are simple and they start with us. Here are some points to consider when problems arise:

If there is a problem, check yourself first to see if you’re the cause.
How could you have prevented this? What actions were and were not taken that lead to the situation?
Don’t let our everyday tools become a crutch that prevent us from solving future problems.