In the military when they want to get the full, real-time picture of what’s happening in a war zone, they call it getting the ground truth. It’s one thing to draw up a brilliant battle plan back on home soil, but if you’re not aware of the tactical realities on the battlefield, your plan won’t be worth a dime. The same goes for you as a CEO. If you’re not actively seeking out information from your front-line employees, you’re not getting the whole truth.
All manner of sins can develop when the CEO is not checking in every day on what’s happening around the company. Employees skip a step in a process here, no one takes care of certain tasks there because they’re unenjoyable, and before you know it, people are all but rewriting their job descriptions.
No, I’m not advocating that you become a micromanager, double checking every step your employees take. All I’m suggesting is that you keep your finger on the pulse. You can legislate and delegate from on high all you want, but you can’t run the company effectively if you don’t know how policies and directives translate into the actual work getting done.
It may seem as though everything is running smoothly and seamlessly, but if you’re not checking in with your employees on a regular basis, you don’t have a clear picture.
Your employees know the ground truth, but you can only get it by asking. Ask for feedback. Ask how things are going. Are there processes or procedures that are obsolete? Would your employees prefer to receive information in a different way? Do client interaction guidelines need to be changed or updated? If an employee could change one thing, what would it be?
Some of the answers you get will be pie in the sky, others will be possible but time-consuming, and some will be quick fixes. Make the changes you can and explain why you can’t change those that are impossible/impractical/counterproductive. If you do this, you’ll soon see your organization’s productivity improve. All you have to do is listen!
If you’re interested in learning more ways to be a better CEO, download our eBook “5 Ways to Become a Better CEO This Week“.