The Titanic - and how to avoid that iceberg
The hidden dangers you should look for in your business
As the passengers and crew of the SS Titanic found, it’s the hidden dangers that you don’t see, the ones below the waterline, that can cause the most damage.
And on a less dramatic scale the same could be happening in your business. On the surface everything is fine, accepted, there is the odd issue but otherwise it’s pretty much OK. Until your business hits the equivalent of an iceberg.
The business equivalent of an iceberg is failing to take note of the warning signs of “Danger Ahead” until it’s too late. And in nearly all cases these signs can be identified and managed to a satisfactory conclusion before they cause a problem.
Five warning signs to look for could include
- An unexpected rise in absenteeism; particularly in areas where this has previously not been of concern.
- An increase in turnover; in what areas do the leavers work, what information are exit interviews providing and are there any trends that can be identified.
- Chatter, niggles and grievances. Is there a noticeable increase in “problems” coming across your desk; be they informal or formal.
- A fall in output. If there is no discernable reason for this, the reasons should be explored.
- Is there a pattern of employees who would normally always be on time, arriving late?
So, what to do if you see any of these warning signs? I would suggest
Four actions to consider
- Train managers to identify warning sings. Organise Manager led training. Ask them to consider the types of warning signs they should look out for and how they should deal with these.
- Improve employee communication and increase engagement. It isn’t just about speaking with the staff, it involves listening to them, indeed listening is the most important, but often most neglected, part of the communication process.
- Know your staff. Make as much effort as is reasonably practical to engage with your staff. Whilst it’s easier to do in a smaller organisations, positive action can be taken irrespective of organisational size.
- Undertake Pulse and Employee Voice surveys. Informal pulse, surveys of all employees should be undertaken every couple of months. Each survey will provide valuable insights and should focus on a different subject. Similarly, annual Employee Engagement surveys should be undertaken. If you go back far enough in time you will find these called Attitude Surveys!
Businesses should have in place early warning systems that identify potential issues before they become problems. They are easy to establish and will ensure that “your” finger is always on the pulse of what is happening in the organisation.
Forearmed is forewarned. Or put another way; look out for that iceberg, particularly where it is not immediately visible.