Small thinking doesn’t make any noise, unlike like big thinking or disruptive thinking. Small thinking comprises little things you don’t pay attention to; that seem innocuous; or that are so habitual and ingrained that you don’t even stop to think about them.
But small thinking can add up to big business problems. Some recent examples of small thinking I’ve come across suggest to me that these companies are moving into the danger zone, and they won’t even know what killed them.
The 5 Top Silent Killers
- The undertrained front desk person or first contact on the phone. These people convey just the bare minimum, their use their lackadaisical language and have low energy. They can’t answer questions. You will never know how many people chose to business with another company. This kind of face and voice of your company is a silent killer.
- Constant apologizing. Everyone makes mistakes or omissions from time to time, and a simple apology is fine. However, you make mistakes repeatedly, and apologize again and again, you are telling every client or customer that you don’t care about quality or value or timeliness. You apologize but you don’t fix. There’s a difference and the lack of fixing is a silent killer.
- Frequent rescheduling. When you commit to a date and time, you should only change it under life-threatening conditions. With everyone claiming—and feeling—that they’re so busy, it seems normal to reschedule. But it’s that normalization of frequent schedule changes that will kill you. When people come to realize you are likely to change your plans again and gain, they’ll go make plans with others who will keep them.
- Minimizing how important it is to show people they are being heard. This happens both with employees and with clients. You’re too busy to pay attention, you interrupt with an new idea prompted by the conversation, you are in a hurry to go elsewhere—whatever your reason, you get known as never making the time to really listen. People then stop talking to you and you’ll never know what you missed. Not listening is a silent killer.
- Doing things because you’ve always done them: you have buyers for your offerings; you have employees working; you have revenue and some profit. Why rock the boat? Companies that don’t actively grow, die from their inaction. You miss changes in buyers’ tastes and preferences. You don’t see new opportunities because you’re so busy tending to the old ones. You interpret your client’s inertia as loyalty, and when they get moving right on over to another company, you’re too late. The same old, same old is a silent killer.
What would you add to this list? Have you noticed any of these silent killers in your company? What are you doing to avoid them?