Key Constituencies: Unlock your potential by spending time with the right people
July 8, 2011
Nashville Business Journal
Time is our most important business commodity. So who you spend it with can make all the difference in your level of growth and accomplishment.
Planning each week is difficult, but effective time management is essential to personal growth and the effectiveness of your business unit. Start by analyzing how you’ve allocated your time over the last couple of months. In retrospect, you may find that you would have spent some part of it differently.
There is only so much time, and you can use it wisely by spending time with constituencies that are most important to accomplishing your goals. For example, allocating time with peers can help you benchmark yourself and your business operation. And you can really upgrade your skills by spending qualitytime with those in higher-level roles in your company and the community.
In most business roles, time spent with your employees ranks at the top of the list. Your team generally knows the most about the work and can alert you to potential issues early in the process. Your people also typically have regular customer contact that can be invaluable in building your business. Listening, discussing and asking the right questions can give you key insight into your operation, and this knowledge can help you lead your team in the best possible direction.
There’s no downside to staying close to customers. So try to schedule the maximum amount of time with the customers who are important today—and particularly with those who are most likely to provide long-term growth. Take every opportunity to spend time with customers on their turf so you can best see how your product or service fits your customers’ needs. And don’t avoid those “difficult” customers who ask really tough questions. That eye-opening type of engagement can lead you to thinking about your business in different, and often more creative, ways. Regular and effective customer communication will reinforce a strong customer bond.
Strategic business partners, who provide various types of support for our operations, can make all the difference in our success. It’s important to build time into your schedule for these critical alliances. Spending time with partners, particularly at their business locations, can help solve problems while they are still small—and can facilitate tactical planning for future growth. By putting in real face time, it is not uncommon to discover that business partners have additional capabilities that could contribute to the future success of your organization.
Joe Scarlett is founder of the Scarlett Leadership Institute and retired chairman of Tractor Supply Co. He can be reached at email@example.com