Out of Touch– Symptom of a Business Losing Real-World Relevance: It Can Make or Break a Company…

Out of Touch: Failure of management to avert business crisis reflects a serious problem that cannot simply be swept under the carpet… It’s a symptom of being ‘out of touch’ with fundamental business issues that can make or break a company… There is a disconnect between the world inhabited by management, on the one hand, and the real world of customers, suppliers, employees, and society at large…

Whether it’s intentionally or not, the facts is there are several layers of separation between management, and where the action occurs with customers, employees… There are two main reasons why management can be far out of touch; hubris or omniscience. Simply, they don’t value other people’s opinions and inputs highly enough, or they don’t have the means in place to get it…

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According to Mark Holmes; immunization from honest dissonance leads to dangerously myopic, endogenous decision-makingThe organization’s sacred cows live on as leaders control the business from a mink-lined rut.  Its imperative that all leaders get out of their fancy offices, get involved, get their hands dirty… at least once in a while, if they expect to grasp reality… In fact, a degree of success can breed complacency: You grow confident in your creative process and start cruising along in the comfort zone… It feels safe, but this is how you can become insulated and out of touch. Your performance dips and ideas start to lose real-world relevance…

If this sounds like you, it could be time for you to reconnect with your audience; end-users, customers… more than that, you must step into their shoes and gain insight into their needs, for example; according to Dr. Christian Jarrett; you should visit online communities that are frequented by your customers and see the kind of issues they raise… Use social media to connect directly with customers and get a feel for them and their needs… Mingle discreetly with your audience… Connect with your customers and assume their perspective, then you will not only gain practical insights, but you will also inject the business with– meaning, purpose…

According to Zain Wadee; business must reassess their engagement and communication strategies; failure to do so could alienate a whole range of stakeholders – including; current and potential customers, future customers, and most importantly, employees… Yes, relationships with customers and employees changes over time, as companies grow and formal processes are put into place. However, when companies loses touch with important stakeholders; customers, employees… inevitably, they lose business and the company begins to decline…

In the article Signs You’re Out of Touch With Your Audience by Steve Cody  writes: Are you relevant? (Are you sure?) It seems the more market intelligence top executives possess, the less in touch they are with their target audiences. And, the less in touch they are, the more likely they are to lose business, especially nowadays when loyalty is hard to find… Countless CEOs, CMOs, and other members of C-suite are concerned about the same thing: Remaining relevant to their audiences’ wants and needs. Yet many continue to be out of touch with those very same audiences and inadvertently do things that, instead, alienate or antagonize customers… Here are five sure signs that you, or your organization, may be out of touch with the people or businesses that are buying your product or service:

  • Surprise Attack: One of the worst things that can happen is to launch the newest generation of a product or service and tout it as the next great thing, only to discover that audiences hated the original version… Being more in tune with customer’s feelings can avoid this huge disconnect…
  • One Degree of Separation: Is your organization siloed? If so, it’s not unique. Many companies completely separate customer service from marketing, marketing from R&D, R&D from sales. The result is a business version of ‘Tower of Babel’… When management doesn’t take the time to listen to customers, and much less what other people in the company already know, then you have a disaster on your hands..
  • Get out from Behind the Desk: Not too long ago, we surveyed 75 chief marketing officers of medium and large-sized organizations. We asked them a simple question: Have you ever put yourself in your customer’s shoes and experienced your brand from the outside in? A startling 75% had not… The very best executives find time to experience their organization’s brand from the outside in. They don’t rely solely on market research or assume they already know all they need to know about their customers…
  • It’s the Policy, Stupid: Often, the folks in sales know what product attributes sell but are told by management to push other features. Or the marketing department, painfully aware of the organization’s rapidly aging target demographic, wants to appeal to millennial instead. Sadly, they’re ordered to just keep doing what they’ve been doing. These folks know the problem. They see it. But, they don’t have the authority to fix it. In effect, they’re told; ‘sorry, that’s not your job’…
  • Tell your Statistics to Shut Up: A recent survey of 1,700 chief marketing officers showed the No. 1 challenge they face is managing, interpreting and using the immense amounts of data pushed their way… You must find ways to connect fully with the people who buy your products and services. Redouble your efforts to find out how they feel, and what it really means to do business with your company…

In the article Are CEOs Out of Touch? by Bruce Nussbaum writes: Many CEOs spend weekends playing golf, and getting business information on the golf course. They spend much of their day at internal meetings, getting information from their managers. They get advice from their board members who are even more out of touch. So, most CEOs are probably having the wrong conversations about the wrong things with the wrong people…

The good news is that a growing number of CEOs and managers know they are out of touch and are hungry to plug into the right conversations. Think about all this for a moment: Some of the greatest opportunities in business will be to provide ‘C’ suite management with the right connections to the right conversations with the right information. Or perhaps, just aggregating information and feeding it directly to the top execs… Hmmmm. If CEOs are so out touch, are they also so overpaid?

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In the article Out of Touch – Out of Influence by Kathy McAfee writes: I read some scary business statistics that said with every month that you are not communicating, you lose 10% of your ‘influence’. At this rate, it doesn’t take too long to drain what ever influence you possess to zero… Most people work hard to plant seeds of opportunity, whether it’s for business development or new job opportunities. Yet your follow-up is where you trip-up, and as a result you let the opportunity (and influence) slip away.

You’ve heard the expression; Out of sight, out of mind? Perhaps the same is true that when you go out of touch; you go out of influence… It’s one thing to understand that you need to follow-up frequently in order to maintain your relationships, it’s another challenge to actually do it. It seems like time is in short supply, everyone is super busy, there are many demands… But, truth be told, most of us are disorganized and undisciplined… So, how often should you stay in touch? Your goal must be to stay in touch frequently enough to have influence and visibility: Think of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears:

  • This one is too soft: You are out of touch, you don’t reach out, you are neglecting people… They start wondering if you are alive or if you simply don’t care enough about them to stay in touch;
  • This one is too hard: Your actions are too pushy, too much, you appear aggressive or worse yet, desperate or needy because you are constantly calling/emailing;
  • This one is just right: You use the appropriate amount of follow-up, demonstrating that you care about the relationship, you are organized and professional and that you have self-confidence in who you are.

In the article Businesses are Out of Touch with New Generation by David Woods writes:  A poll of 1,000 workers showed that nearly two-thirds (60%) of UK workers do not, or are unable to engage with their employer on social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn… A fifth (17%) say that their organization does not communicate via social media channels at all…

The survey showed that the reputation of businesses is increasingly forged online, with more than half (51%) of UK employees saying that an active social media presence is important factor in determining organization’s overall reputation as an employer… Members of so-called ‘Gen-Y’ (i.e., 25-34 year old) draw the strongest link between corporate reputation and social media presence…

Over two-thirds (69%) of ‘Gen-Y’ employees think an active social media presence is important for organization’s reputation as an employer. A fifth (19%) of ‘Gen-Y’ers look at an organization’s Twitter feed to find out more about the organization they are applying to– compared to just 5% of 45-54 year old– and half (50%) follow their employer’s activity on social media channels… Separate research from the Adecco Group, showed that UK business is out of touch with the integration and importance of social media in the workplace…

A poll of 1,500 workers and 500 employers showed that well over half (59%) of employers think that access to social media at work is impacting on productivity. Meanwhile, only a third (36%) of workers subscribe to this view…

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Managing is not a science; it’s a subtle and nuanced practice, learned mostly on the job, through paying close attention to gestures and tone of voice. This ‘soft information’ is an integral part of managing, and it’s gathered by; talking and listening in meetings, during chance encounters, talking on the phone… Using only words, i.e., sending a text message or an e-mail– takes away the nuance that comes from seeing and hearing people, from exchanging points of view and working toward agreements. Information technology can and should expand your range of communication, but it cannot be a substitute for interactions that build trust, share vision, enhance community…

According to Henry Mintzberg and Peter Todd; managers who are in touch only through their keyboard are out of touch with the vast world beyond it. They risk is substituting breadth for depth. Research shows that you may have more connections today, but fewer relationships… Managers who believe that they can learn about their business only through e-mail, text… and, who rarely walk down the hall, let alone get on an airplane– may find themselves out of touch. They may gather facts, but they may miss the meaning. And the increasing use of 140-character tweets to convey impressions of an organization or a person will likely result in an even greater loss of nuance…