Organizing your attentiveness

Last fall, I spent two blog posts discussing how effective leaders stay organized. At that time, I was referring to your actual to-do list, which typically won’t have the actual words “pay attention to John on Monday.”

But maybe you should consider it.

A colleague of mine was telling me about a car salesman who kept a Rolodex of every car he’d ever sold (this was back in 2002, so there is a chance he’s gone electronic by now). He checked in with the owners of the cars every year on the anniversary of the purchase. Good service, right?

It goes beyond that. Also on each page of that Rolodex was the birthday of the car’s owner, names of family members, jobs, and a whole slew of personal information. Several times a year, he found a reason to contact his clients- on their birthday, on the car’s birthday, their child’s graduation, etc. And at the end of every greeting card, phone conversation or voicemail was the line, “Is there anything I can do for you?”

Nine times out of ten, the answer was no. But that tenth time? Might just lead him to selling yet another car (the auto industry’s equivalent to successfully engaging an employee). At this time, my colleague’s extended family has bought a total of seven cars from him in the past decade.

Do you need a Rolodex with the personal information of everyone you’re leading? Maybe not, but no matter how many people you manage, it takes forethought to ensure you’re regularly engaging them- and asking what you can do for them. Unless you’ve conditioned your brain to be a steel trap, there’s no shame (and probably great benefit) from keeping written track of the key details.

Of course, you could always spend the time sharpening your steel trap.

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