There is a proverb that tells about how a tiny nail was lost in a horseshoe, which led to the loss of a horse. The loss of the horse resulted in the loss of the rider, which then led to the loss of a battle. Because of the loss of this important battle, the kingdom was lost. This proverb is a good analogy for understanding how a very tiny shift in behavior or activity can turn a small action into a monumental event over time.
The little things make a big difference in the success of your organization, either by strengthening or fracturing your organization. Each action causes a chain reaction. If an action fractures your business, then the organization is weakened. Actions that strengthen your organization help build your company. Your business may be reliant on these small actions to make the shift from a mediocre workplace to a thriving organization.
Michael Levine suggests in his book, Broken Window, Broken Business, that some of the biggest problems within business stem from ignoring the small details. When you ignore the little details, you create micro fractures in the fabric of your organization that weaken the way you do business. Attention to detail for the little things impacts all elements of your business to include employee engagement, customer service, efficiency, and even time management in a way that reduces your chance of success. When you take the time to consider the little things, then you increase your chance to create a connected and cohesive company.
This may be especially true in our society that is overwhelmed with information and globalized connectivity. We lose attention quickly and multi-task at a much higher rate. A recent Microsoft Consumer Insights on attention span suggested that people could focus on a task for 12 seconds back in 2000, but that figure dropped to 8 seconds in 2013, about one second less than a goldfish. Although we can multitask better in this new age, there is a missing component in the relationship between our currently lifestyle and previous ways of life. We have more choices and a wide array of activities that offer employees more than in previous times. Technology and globalization have given us tools we did not previously have to change the way we do business. For instance, a recent study showed that that the treadmill desk, human–computer interaction (HCI) setup intended to reduce the time workers spend sitting increased short-term memory and attention. These changes mean that businesses have a greater number of choices for how to introduce little things into the organization. Companies can be more creative in how they integrate little things into the day. These little things can be something simple like an e-mail thanking people for a job well done, to a workout center that allows employees to work and exercise at the same time. You can choose basic activities like a Thank You card mailed to a customer, or bringing someone into a meeting with Facetime so they can see the work that is being completed on their project. The key is to be creative. Do little things to make the project more meaningful, or take the project to a deeper level of communication or personalization.
If you would like to make the little things a part of your company culture here are two attributes that help you and your employees expand your thinking about the value of the little things:
1. Self-Awareness: Understand the connection between your inner self, other people, and the world. When you can look beyond your needs and wishes, you are better able to integrate your wishes with the people and space around you. This awareness means learning more about the people at work, understanding what value individuals place on different actions, and seeing the bigger picture. The ability to understand the movement of self with people and space gives you a greater understanding of how elements work together to create the optimum situations for the success of your company. Self-awareness also aligns you with critical thinking skills that assist you in making more informed and thoughtful decisions. Look beyond your view of the world, and consider many other options for how people and situations work together. This attribute offers you options that you may not have considered if you only look at what makes you feel better. Self-awareness changes the way you look at the world so that you make more informed and meaningful decisions about minute steps that may have not been considered without looking at the little things.
2. Intentional Behaviors: Take time to respond instead of reacting to daily activities. When you manage your feelings, you respond with an intentional action that strengthens your organization. You reduce the chances of creating tiny fractures that can ultimately assist in the loss of a successful enterprise. This behavior is especially challenging in our instant gratification society that is seeking the quick fix. As Ronald Alsop suggested in his article, Instant Gratification and Its Dark Side, the need for constant connection makes people more impatient and takes away time for quieter, more critical thinking reflection. Although this may sound backward, when you slow down your thinking you speed up the process. Intentional actions are more informed and deliberate, which reduces the chance for mistakes, missed opportunities, and or emotional reactions.
Integrating these two attributes as focused soft skills within the culture of your business assists you in strengthening your organization and creating a corporation that recognizes the importance of the little things at work for the success of your business.