We all have shortcomings, as leaders. The key is to uncover them, before it’s too late. To figure out if you have blindspots in your company, here are eight questions you can ask yourself so you can figure out what areas to improve in as a manager…
1. Do people disagree with you in public?
When you ask for people’s opinion on an important issue, do you get passive head-nodding? Or even complete radio silence? If so, people may not feel comfortable voicing their disagreement, and there may be blindspots in the company that you’re not aware of.
2. How many questions do you typically ask in a conversation with a coworker?
Questions are the key to unlocking answers – especially about blindspots. So if you’re only asking one or two questions in a typical conversation with a co-worker (or no questions at all), there’s a good chance you’re overlooking how a coworker may be actually feeling about her or his work.
3. How many hours a week do you spend outside your office or headquarters?
If you find yourself behind your own office desk or only conversing with those in your own local office the majority of the time, you’re missing on valuable information and insights that could be gathered speaking with employees outside your HQ. As Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, was once quoted, “When you’re in a box in an office, you’ve got to find a way out of the box.”
4. Do people bring up failure?
When is the last time someone (other than you) brought up a marketing campaign that fell short, or a product line that was pulled? If your employees focus only on what’s going well and are reluctant to be critical, you could be in the dark about blindspots within the company.
5. Who do you spend the most time talking to in your company in a given week?
If you’re like most CEOs and managers, you most-likely spend the majority of your time talking with only your leadership team and direct reports. This means you’re often lacking the insights and sentiments from those on the front-lines of your company – your employees who are interacting with customers day-to-day. If you’re not talking with those employees regularly, you’re bound to have blindspots spring up.
6. On average, how long does it take for you to respond to an employee?
As described in Chapter 1, the amount of time it takes to respond to an employee affects how engaged that employee will be. So if your own responsiveness to an employee is typically greater than 24 hours, it’s probable that they’re less likely to be forthcoming with ideas and concerns… therefore enabling blindspots in your company to creep up.
7. What happens when someone messes up?
When someone makes a mistake, do other employees avoid telling you directly? If so, there may be problems or weak areas in the company unbeknowst to you. Now I’m not suggesting you promote “tattle-telling” in a company or embark on a witch-hunt to figure out who to demonize for mistakes. But an unwillingness to acknowledge each others’ mistakes may mean there are blindspots lurking in your company.
8. How many barriers are there in order to contact you?
If people need to go through an assistant in order to get a hold of you or always seem to get your voicemail or an auto-email responder before hearing back, that affects their willingness to contact you the next time around. Keep in mind that the more barriers of communication there are, the less communicative your employees will be.
Wondering why these blindspots happen in the first place? Read about the Two Triggers of Blindspots in Chapter 3, to figure out the underlying root causes of blindspots.