Jun 222005

Counter Cliche: Sleeves, or Shoes?

Counter Cliche:  Sleeves, or Shoes?

Fred’s VC Cliche of the Week this week is about "rolling up your sleeves."  It’s a good one about how investors need to really understand a business inside and out in order to be effective board members – that they have to believe that they work for the CEO as much as the other way around.

One of my very first posts on this blog over a year ago talked about the fact that as a CEO, you have to remember that you don’t just work for your board, but you also work for your customers and your employees.  It’s the same principle.

My counter cliche this week is that Sometimes You Have to Walk in the Other Person’s Shoes.  It’s the same principle but focused a little differently on employee relations instead of CEO-Board relations.  Everyone inside an organization has internal customers and hand-offs with peers in other departments, or within the same department. 

The healthiest thing people can do when they’re in that type of relationship is make sure they have a full understanding of what their colleagues do — the scope of their job, their external and internal hurdles, and their success metrics.  That understanding makes the relationship much stronger.  And one of the ways to achieve that understanding is to literally walk in the other person’s shoes from time to time. 

If your internal hand-off is to sales, get out there and talk to some customers with a sales rep.  If your internal hand-off is to operations, spend a day putting out fires.  If it’s to customer service, answer the 800 number for 15 minutes once in a while.  You’ll be amazed at how much even a few minutes of walking in the other person’s shoes can help you be more effective in working with that person.