Everything you need to know about setting up, managing and growing small businesses. Veterans, as well as newbies share their stories and valuable lessons.

This past week I had two very different interactions that caused me to think about how my business interacts with customers. The two customers have some common characteristics. They are both successful organizations with dedicated staffs and competent CEOs. But there are big differences in the way they work with outside resources. Customer #1 is open to new ideas. If we offer suggestions about how to improve a project they listen. If we advise against a course of action they weigh the advice. Admittedly, they don’t always take it but it is considered.

If you knew you were going to get a big influx of business would you be more likely to hire people. If you had a handle on where interest rates were headed might you think about getting a loan for new equipment? If you thought the economy was going to improve would you launch a new product line?

Both the CFO and the CEO stuck their hand into the air as I concluded my keynote and called for questions. “Why don’t employees communicate up in an organization?” There was a little more than a twinge of frustration in the CEO’s question.  The CFO added his nod of dismay.

It’s a common conundrum in the C-suite—even from the brightest leaders in the boardroom.  The issue deserves serious thought because when downward communication dominates, problems go unresolved and innovation stalls.

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