When considering a business services company for, say, customer service support, there are metrics galore to study before making your decision. With so much data available to guide the decision making process, why, do so many carefully researched partnerships go south so quickly? And how can you achieve a better outcome?
Though many would consider it counter-intuitive, I recommend developing what I call a “feel for the floor.” Moreover, I would say that anyone in your organization who has such a feel should be given a place at the decision table.
A feel for the floor is simply a sense of intuition, something that most engineers, for example, by and large neglect, because intuition cannot be easily measured or dissected, just as in medicine a particular level of pain cannot be measured precisely.
Yet real intuition is nothing but the result of years of experience in a certain field. And you ignore your intuition at your own risk, in any profession.
What does this mean when determining whether a particular company is one with which you’d like to work? For this you must get a feel for the floor.
While the metrics are being evaluated, what I like to do is simply to visit the company and spend time on the floor: sitting in a cubicle, walking among the workforce, observing staff, listening in on conversations.
Even without interacting with those around me, I look – and find evidence of – a number of things:
* The relationships between staff members – do they seem warm and genuine or cold and dysfunctional?
* Is there a sense of tension, perhaps frustration in the air?
* Do staff members seem excited, energetic and engaged in their work, or merely going through the motions?
After getting a feel for the floor, what does your intuition tell you? Do you get a sense that this is the kind of company that could take on a complex project? And how do they manage their service team? (Hint: the way a company manages its team will indicate how it manages its services.)
According to Malcolm Gladwell in his best-selling book BLINK, “thin-slicing” refers to the ability of our unconscious to find such patterns in situations based on very narrow slices of experience.
How does taking this intuitive “thin-slicing” approach help clients? By providing insight into the company beyond objective measurements.
That is why when companies reach out to discuss working with us, the first thing we do is invite them to visit our offices, walk the floor and observe our team at work.
We find that seeing our energized, engaged team in action is a great way to begin building a new relationship, and that a mutually successful association is more likely to result.