Manage Smarter 80 — Chris Denny: Developing Attention to Details

Chris Denny on the Manage Smarter podcast from SalesFuel

 

Episode Link

 

 

Chris Denny is the Attention To Detail Expert. He's a researcher, trainer, and author of Improve Attention To Detail: A straightforward system to develop attention to detail in yourself, employees, and across an organization.

He helps people and organizations develop everyday excellence in the work they do via his workshops and online training courses as well and you can find out more at attentiontodetail​.com.

In this episode, Audrey, Lee and Chris discuss attention to details including:

 

  • The different components/​breakdown of details and processes
  • How to address the gaps in detail failure for yourself and/​or your team
  • How the lack of detail attention=a loss of ROI
  • How lack of details is a morale killer in organizations
  • How to tell if someone is high in executing perfectly on details before you hire them

 

The co-​workers are on average low morale because mistakes are allowed in the system too often because the system, you always have those high performing workers who go “man, why can’t we do this right?”

- Chris Denny

Connect with Chris Denny:

 

New episodes posted every Sunday morning at ManageSmarter​.com, C‑Suite Radio, iHeartRadio and your favorite source for podcasts.

Manage Smarter 80 — Chris Denny- Developing Attention to Details

00:22:03

This episode of Manage Smarter is presented by SalesFuel Coach, our adaptive sales coaching featuring five-​minute quick coaching personalized to each sales rep. Learn more about SalesFuel Coach at SalesFuel​.com. 

Welcome to the Manage Smarter Podcast, with host C. Lee Smith and Audrey Strong. We're glad you're here for discussions on new ways to manage smarter, hire, develop, and retain talent, improve results, and propel team performance to new heights. This is the Manage Smarter Podcast.

Audrey Strong: What happens when we don't pay attention to detail? Has something gone external that looked bad for you or your company? Or what happens internally when somebody makes a mistake or isn't paying attention? That is the reason we have Chris Denny on the show today. Welcome to the Manage Smarter Podcast, everyone. I'm Audrey strong. I'm the vice president of communications here at SalesFuel, and this topic is hot.

C. Lee Smith: Yeah. I'm C. Lee Smith, the president CEO of SalesFuel. Audrey, we know it's extremely important when you're dealing with details like payroll and things of that nature. But I also think about what separates brands like Apple from every other smartphone maker out there or what separates a luxury car brand from a mass production car brand. When I think about that, it's like the first thing that comes to mind is attention to detail. So, I'm so glad we're going to be doing this topic today.

Audrey Strong: Yeah. Attention to detail can indeed be tied into service level. So, Chris Denny. Hi Chris. Thanks for coming on microphones.

Chris Denny: Hey, there. Thanks for having me.

Audrey Strong: Yeah. We want to tell everybody a little bit about you. You are the attention, The attention to detail expert. Chris is a researcher, trainer, and author of Improve Attention to Detail, A straightforward system to develop attention to detail in yourself, your employees, and across an organization. Chris helps people and organizations develop everyday excellence in the work they do via his workshops. Also, online training courses, guys, as well and you can find out more about all of us at attentiontodetail​.com. Very logical name for the website there, Chris.

Chris Denny: Yeah, I like it. I was glad to come by it.

C. Lee Smith: And I like the logo too, because all the I's are dotted and T's are crossed. That's very cool.

Audrey Strong: Yeah. So what are we talking about here? You have a couple definitions of attention to detail, and you say there are also two types of it. Go ahead.

Chris Denny: Yeah. So, the deal with attention to detail is that it's often used in sort of an obscure way, right? We ask people to be more detail-​oriented. We ask them to improve their attention to detail. And we usually mean something very specific about it by that, and there are so many ways we apply it. It's usually a manager or some kind of superior asking an employee to do something, could be a coworker saying, "Hey, do a better job," to one of their peers. It can be frustrating for were both parties, because the person who's being told to be more detail-​oriented, they don't fully get it. They understand that they made a mistake and they would like to fix it, for the most part, but they typically need a little more instruction. That's how I got into this. I didn't really mean to get into this whole thing seven years ago. But I had employees who just lacked attention to detail and I wanted to improve them. And I couldn't find any training or courses or books or anything. I just happened to be really interested in the topic and kind of went down the rabbit hole, and came out five years later from my kind of nightly research with this system. And it appears to work, people identify with it, they understand, they appreciate that it provides a framework, and it does help individuals and organizations.

So it's great, but the definition of attention to detail, it has to do with using your cognitive, your mental resources efficiently in order to identify and process the relevant elements of an issue or a problem or concern at hand, and then select to pull out the relevant components and order them to process them in an efficient manner.

So, there's a lot of parts of it. The three types of attention to detail are contrastive, analytical, and additive. You can get pretty techy when you get into those, so I don't know if that's a little beyond the scope, but I can keep it really short. Contrastive attention to detail is what most of us are working with on a day-​to-​day basis. We always are going to have this. The main component of contrastive of attention to is that there is one solution. So, it's either yes or no, it's right or it's wrong. This is a very systemizable component. And that's what we always want to work towards. That makes things more simple.

C. Lee Smith: That's the easy one.

Chris Denny: Exactly, exactly. That's how we can remove human error from things, right. If we can make it either a yes or no, it's there or it's not, it's red or it's black, it's green or it's blue, it's flashing or it's not, then we can systemize that very easily.

C. Lee Smith: But we live in gray area.

Chris Denny: Exactly. And that's where most of us work is in what I call analytical attention to detail. And that's where you have multiple issues, multiple concerns, and probably multiple solutions. One solution is maybe better than the other but you have to prove it. And that's the main component of that, but it is systemizable. Once you've done it a few times and tested it, you can go, "Okay, solution C was better than A through F, and this is what we do next time." And we write a process for it and now we have made it as contrastive as possible. So, we've helped remove the human error component out of it.

The more difficult one is additive attention to detail, that is where you get into innovation, into improvement, into making things better. Basically because of what it is, it's very hard to systematize because you're making something new. So certainly the first time you're not going to, however, you can

systematize the process for creating, for innovating, right? You can make sure that you identify all of the elements that you've addressed, all of your competitors, everything on the shelves and the stores, all the available technology, what people want and like. You can get into what you think people want and like and all of these things. It's about the process. You can't systematize an innovation itself because it doesn't exist. It's not a thing. So, analytical is where most of us operate on a daily basis. That's where most–

C. Lee Smith: What would one of those processes look like?

Chris Denny: For additive?

C. Lee Smith: Yeah, for analytical.

Chris Denny: For analytical. It could be anything, right. It could be, hey, find the best solution to increase sales next month by 37%, or what is the best strategy — this is a big one that comes up — what's the best strategy for growth or for cost reduction or for making that go faster or making people happy. There's so many things. It could be in a lab, you know, what's the best solution for weight loss or for increasing viscosity of that chemical or for reducing the pressure in the pipelines. There are so many different things to throw with that.

C. Lee Smith: So, I'm thinking more along the lines of, one, check your own work; two, have another set of eyes to check your work; and then three, to do a post event analysis or something like that. Are those components of a good process for this sort of thing?

Chris Denny: Yeah. That's where you get into the five fundamental elements, and that's where you're throwing a framework on a thing. You just mentioned parts of systems and you also mentioned, well, they're all systems, I guess. You have double checking. You have — I mean, a system can be something as simple as a reminder or being repetitive about something. I always use the example—if you never want to lose your keys again, just put them in exactly the same place every day. You'll never lose them again.

Audrey Strong: I tell my husband that all the time.

C. Lee Smith:: And does he do it?

Audrey Strong: No.

C. Lee Smith:: And does he lose his keys?

Audrey Strong: Yes. So I said that. It's on the record now.

C. Lee Smith: So Rich, if you're producing this and listening this or whatever, she just outed you.

Audrey Strong: Whiteboards, post-​it notes, all kinds of systems, right?

Chris Denny: Yeah. There are so many systems. I mean, they can be complex. It can be Excel sheets, they can be complete software systems, they can be double checks, they can be procedures. On sales teams, they might say, "Hey, if you have a quote," depends on the team and what they're selling. But if you have a quote out there for more than 3 million, it has to be approved by a superior. That's a simple system but it just makes sure that the T's are crossed and the I's are dotted to make sure it goes out right and they actually make money on it. So, there's so many ways.

And then you put those together with the other elements, which are focused interests, knowledge, and there's an attitude component as well. And when you put those altogether, because of the five, some people are very strong — and when I say people, teams, this applies to entire teams as well, some are very strong and some are very weak and some have a little of all and none of the others, right? It's when you address them all and kind of fill in the gaps, that's where you can develop in an individual, well-​rounded detail orientation or attention to detail. And for a team that's where you can, on the average, reduce those everyday mistakes and increase the little wins here and there that together in the aggregate make a huge difference.

Audrey Strong: It's funny. I imagine this applies so much more broadly and so much deeper into business, people's businesses than I thought about it. I was imagining it as more of a task-​oriented type of thing or a work style-​oriented type of thing, but you actually have a way to calculate how the lack of it across any of these buckets you're referring to can actually be in real costs. How is that calculated?

Chris Denny: I'm working on a calculator for that now. It's literally a checklist on my schedule for tomorrow to get back to it. I kind of live by checklist, by the way, as you would imagine. It varies by task and by value of employee and all these things. And so that's what I'm trying to put together is — I'm not a programmer but I can Excel sheet the heck out of things. I am putting together a very robust Excel sheet that will be able to calculate, and you can put in variables such as type of job, the value of the employees, how many employees, how many times the mistakes are made at a given time or in a given time period, could be a day, it could be a week, it's whatever's relevant to the person filling out the calculator. So, there's so many variables, it's really hard to say. But as you can imagine, you've got the direct labor cost, right? And then you have materials cost if that's a component, if you're talking about a production line. And then if you go a step further, and the risk concern has happened and a mistake is made and we have to do a recall, or  hopefully it hasn't left the door, and we have to do a redo of everything that was about to go out the door, well, that's a whole other cost. It could be measured in worker productivity because of low morale, which comes up surprisingly — well, not surprisingly [crosstalk 00:12:13]. Yes, it's related, where the coworkers are, on average, they kind of have a little bit of a low morale because mistakes are just allowed in the system too often, because the systems don't — you always have those high performing workers that go, "Man, why can't everybody do is right."

C. Lee Smith: Attention to detail is not rewarded. So if it's not rewarded, then why bother?

Chris Denny: Right. So often. So there's a lot of variables and it is different from one organization to another.

C. Lee Smith: My dad always used to say that if you don't have time to do it right, when are you going to find time to do it over?

Chris Denny: Yeah. That's a funny thing, I'm a entrepreneur, I'm a business owner and so I always have this thing of you really do have to get it right but you also have to get started. So, I'm often torn between the whole ready aim fire, and ready fire aim philosophies, because sometimes I just have to get started and I go, "All right, man," just kind of look at what ought to happen and then pull the trigger and figure it out as you go along and clean up the mess.

Audrey Strong: Right. You have some tips for our listeners on how to look for a high attention to detail aptitude in candidates and then maybe even within existing staff, when you're looking at who to promote and that kind of thing.

Chris Denny: Yeah. So, I'm going to keep that simple. I'm going to keep it to one tip someone gave me several years ago, and I use it for my hiring. I'm kind of giving it away now. But it is really helpful. I call it the bird dog test. I call it the bird dog test, because that's a word, a phrase you're probably never going to see on a resume. When I put a job description out there, somewhere in the middle of it, I don't hide it but I don't put it in bold either, it will just be a separate line that says "Attention to detail is exceptionally important in this position. If you want to be considered for the role, include the phrase bird dog in your email or in your resume."

Audrey Strong: That's awesome.

Chris Denny: Yeah. So it does two things from that point. First of all, it saves you a ton of time in the resumes, right? And then also, presumably, so from what I can tell, you're typically going to automatically be able to knock out about 80% of your resumes, whether they're just resume slingers or whatever, because so many people don't even read descriptions, they're just slinging resumes. And so now you've reduced your time by 80%. So now you've got that to work with. And then from the rest, presumably, they were at least, if they aren't very detail-​oriented, which they tend to on average be more detail-​oriented, at least they're much more interested in your job, interested enough to read the entire description carefully, right? So there is a bit of an attitude component there, at least. So that's my big one. I call it the bird dog test, you can use your own. But that has served me well and others.

Audrey Strong: That's a great tip.

C. Lee Smith: What are the consequences of not having enough attention to detail? And I want you to think about this question in two ways, one of course is the money way, and you've touched on that a little bit already. But the other one is the political capital about as a manager, when we're preparing reports for upper management, maybe we're presenting those reports to upper management or something like that, where the attention to detail can really come back and bite us in our rear.

Chris Denny: Yeah, that's a big part of it. So, What I can tell you, I've been approached about workshops for management teams for that reason. Of course, the people considering the hiring weren't necessarily thinking like, "Well, I don't want my team to look like they don't know what they're doing," but it was more about wasting management's time and using everyone's time effectively and that sort of thing. What I have seen, I've received phone calls from people asking for one-​on-​one coaching for that purpose, and for sure people have purchased workshops, the online workshops, because that was their pain point.

C. Lee Smith: Let me ask the question in a slightly different way then. So as a manager then, I want my team to have greater attention to detail. I want to start with myself and I want to model that behavior. So, as a manager then, what or what detail should I pay more attention to first then so that it's demonstrable then to my team that I'm working on improving my level of attention to detail?

Chris Denny: The ones that matter most. It's different for everyone. My fear sometimes is that people think, "Well, I just need to catch a bunch of little stuff and all that," but you can become pedantic really fast, right, and then no one respects the person who just is picking up on little stuff that doesn't matter.

C. Lee Smith: The grammar police of the world.

Chris Denny: Yeah, that sort of thing. So, grammar doesn't matter if it's just you and me sending back a little email about happy hour or whatever.

C. Lee Smith: That ain't no lie.

Chris Denny: Yeah. But if it's an email, "Hey, can you check this? I'm going to send it to the CEO," well, grammar matters, let's get it right. It could be sent on from here even. If it is about a project or let's say it's a presentation that's going to be made to the upper management or to some pretty important investors or customers, well, details really matter in that. Hey, let's make sure there's nothing awkward or maybe a little offensive. Let’s make sure the pictures are of their products, if they're customers and not the competitors or something like that, maybe even make sure they use the right company colors.

C. Lee Smith: The proposal doesn't have somebody else's company name in it, where you used it before and you just forgot to change the name.

Chris Denny: Exactly, exactly.

Audrey Strong: Replace Chris Denny with Lee Smith, replace 20 occurrences.

C. Lee Smith: That's right.

Chris Denny: Exactly.

Audrey Strong: You know what else you say, though, and this ties into what, Lee, you just said, Chris, you say the number one mistake managers make is that they don't set up attention to detail as an expectation from day one. And I cop to that, I don't think I've ever had a discussion with anybody on my team about it, but I don't really have a bad actor.

C. Lee Smith: Well, you actually though exhibit though the behavior of attention to detail every single day.

Audrey Strong: I do, I'm kind of a maniac.

C. Lee Smith: People know when they work for you, they better bring attention to detail.

Chris Denny: Yeah. It's about setting the standards, that's a big part of it. And just making sure you identify the things that are important to get right. And like you said earlier, modeling.

C. Lee Smith: I think wherever there's numbers, there has to be attention to detail. I mean, it's payroll, it's taxes, it's production numbers. I mean, it's like, yeah, you're reporting that to upper management or whatever, it's like, you better have the numbers right and you better not be like, "Well, I think it's somewhere within a range between 10 and a million." It's like, come on.

Audrey Strong: That doesn't help when you're trying to manage up, you know.

C. Lee Smith: No.

Audrey Strong: I was going to say it's LinkedIn​.com, it's atdetail; Facebook, atdetail. And do you want to just — we've got a few minutes left, Chris, tell us about the workshops and the online courses. And by the way, the book, everybody it's on amazon​.com, logically.

Chris Denny: Yeah. Thanks so much. I'm really excited about the book. The workshops are available online. I'll be adding more as well. Those are available for teams who want to roll it out to multiple people, to dozens or hundreds even. If that's something that interests you, let me know because there are group discounts. The workshops, I go anywhere. I'm happy to go to different places, and I love doing the workshops, and I love being with teams. I've got one in about a week and a half in Nashville and I'm really looking forward to , it's about 45 people. So those are available. The best is when the workshop is done with a team or within people kind of within the same job roles, because they can identify with each other when we do the exercises, and they enjoy it the most, and I think they absolutely get the most out of it. So those are available, but it's attentiontodetail​.com. And I love hearing from people, so if anyone has questions, they're welcome to reach out to me.

C. Lee Smith: And the book is called to Improve Attention to Detail, and you get bonus points if you can actually find a typo in it.

Chris Denny: I'm waiting for it. I'm so waiting. I read it myself before it went out and had it edited by two other people, professionally edited, and I'm waiting for it, waiting for the–

Audrey Strong: There you go. Well, I got to tell you, you put the fear of God in us, Chris, because we always do heavy, heavy show prep. We're always ready, but that was particularly on my game today, so I couldn't be accused of lacking–

Chris Denny: You guys are great.

Audrey Strong: Thanks a lot, Chris. Thanks for coming to the show. We appreciate it.

Chris Denny: Thank you so much. Have a great day.

Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed the show, please rate and recommend on iTunes, Overcast or wherever you get your podcast. You can also get more great information at SalesFuel​.com.

This podcast is a part of the C‑Suite Radio Network. For more top business podcasts, visit c‑suite radio​.com.

 

Connect with Chris Denny:

 

New episodes posted every Sunday morning at ManageSmarter​.com, C‑Suite Radio, iHeartRadio and your favorite source for podcasts.

Manage Smarter 80 — Chris Denny- Developing Attention to Details

00:22:03

This episode of Manage Smarter is presented by SalesFuel Coach, our adaptive sales coaching featuring five-​minute quick coaching personalized to each sales rep. Learn more about SalesFuel Coach at SalesFuel​.com. 

Welcome to the Manage Smarter Podcast, with host C. Lee Smith and Audrey Strong. We're glad you're here for discussions on new ways to manage smarter, hire, develop, and retain talent, improve results, and propel team performance to new heights. This is the Manage Smarter Podcast.

Audrey Strong: What happens when we don't pay attention to detail? Has something gone external that looked bad for you or your company? Or what happens internally when somebody makes a mistake or isn't paying attention? That is the reason we have Chris Denny on the show today. Welcome to the Manage Smarter Podcast, everyone. I'm Audrey strong. I'm the vice president of communications here at SalesFuel, and this topic is hot.

C. Lee Smith: Yeah. I'm C. Lee Smith, the president CEO of SalesFuel. Audrey, we know it's extremely important when you're dealing with details like payroll and things of that nature. But I also think about what separates brands like Apple from every other smartphone maker out there or what separates a luxury car brand from a mass production car brand. When I think about that, it's like the first thing that comes to mind is attention to detail. So, I'm so glad we're going to be doing this topic today.

Audrey Strong: Yeah. Attention to detail can indeed be tied into service level. So, Chris Denny. Hi Chris. Thanks for coming on microphones.

Chris Denny: Hey, there. Thanks for having me.

Audrey Strong: Yeah. We want to tell everybody a little bit about you. You are the attention, The attention to detail expert. Chris is a researcher, trainer, and author of Improve Attention to Detail, A straightforward system to develop attention to detail in yourself, your employees, and across an organization. Chris helps people and organizations develop everyday excellence in the work they do via his workshops. Also, online training courses, guys, as well and you can find out more about all of us at attentiontodetail​.com. Very logical name for the website there, Chris.

Chris Denny: Yeah, I like it. I was glad to come by it.

C. Lee Smith: And I like the logo too, because all the I's are dotted and T's are crossed. That's very cool.

Audrey Strong: Yeah. So what are we talking about here? You have a couple definitions of attention to detail, and you say there are also two types of it. Go ahead.

Chris Denny: Yeah. So, the deal with attention to detail is that it's often used in sort of an obscure way, right? We ask people to be more detail-​oriented. We ask them to improve their attention to detail. And we usually mean something very specific about it by that, and there are so many ways we apply it. It's usually a manager or some kind of superior asking an employee to do something, could be a coworker saying, "Hey, do a better job," to one of their peers. It can be frustrating for were both parties, because the person who's being told to be more detail-​oriented, they don't fully get it. They understand that they made a mistake and they would like to fix it, for the most part, but they typically need a little more instruction. That's how I got into this. I didn't really mean to get into this whole thing seven years ago. But I had employees who just lacked attention to detail and I wanted to improve them. And I couldn't find any training or courses or books or anything. I just happened to be really interested in the topic and kind of went down the rabbit hole, and came out five years later from my kind of nightly research with this system. And it appears to work, people identify with it, they understand, they appreciate that it provides a framework, and it does help individuals and organizations.

So it's great, but the definition of attention to detail, it has to do with using your cognitive, your mental resources efficiently in order to identify and process the relevant elements of an issue or a problem or concern at hand, and then select to pull out the relevant components and order them to process them in an efficient manner.

So, there's a lot of parts of it. The three types of attention to detail are contrastive, analytical, and additive. You can get pretty techy when you get into those, so I don't know if that's a little beyond the scope, but I can keep it really short. Contrastive attention to detail is what most of us are working with on a day-​to-​day basis. We always are going to have this. The main component of contrastive of attention to is that there is one solution. So, it's either yes or no, it's right or it's wrong. This is a very systemizable component. And that's what we always want to work towards. That makes things more simple.

C. Lee Smith: That's the easy one.

Chris Denny: Exactly, exactly. That's how we can remove human error from things, right. If we can make it either a yes or no, it's there or it's not, it's red or it's black, it's green or it's blue, it's flashing or it's not, then we can systemize that very easily.

C. Lee Smith: But we live in gray area.

Chris Denny: Exactly. And that's where most of us work is in what I call analytical attention to detail. And that's where you have multiple issues, multiple concerns, and probably multiple solutions. One solution is maybe better than the other but you have to prove it. And that's the main component of that, but it is systemizable. Once you've done it a few times and tested it, you can go, "Okay, solution C was better than A through F, and this is what we do next time." And we write a process for it and now we have made it as contrastive as possible. So, we've helped remove the human error component out of it.

The more difficult one is additive attention to detail, that is where you get into innovation, into improvement, into making things better. Basically because of what it is, it's very hard to systematize because you're making something new. So certainly the first time you're not going to, however, you can

systematize the process for creating, for innovating, right? You can make sure that you identify all of the elements that you've addressed, all of your competitors, everything on the shelves and the stores, all the available technology, what people want and like. You can get into what you think people want and like and all of these things. It's about the process. You can't systematize an innovation itself because it doesn't exist. It's not a thing. So, analytical is where most of us operate on a daily basis. That's where most–

C. Lee Smith: What would one of those processes look like?

Chris Denny: For additive?

C. Lee Smith: Yeah, for analytical.

Chris Denny: For analytical. It could be anything, right. It could be, hey, find the best solution to increase sales next month by 37%, or what is the best strategy — this is a big one that comes up — what's the best strategy for growth or for cost reduction or for making that go faster or making people happy. There's so many things. It could be in a lab, you know, what's the best solution for weight loss or for increasing viscosity of that chemical or for reducing the pressure in the pipelines. There are so many different things to throw with that.

C. Lee Smith: So, I'm thinking more along the lines of, one, check your own work; two, have another set of eyes to check your work; and then three, to do a post event analysis or something like that. Are those components of a good process for this sort of thing?

Chris Denny: Yeah. That's where you get into the five fundamental elements, and that's where you're throwing a framework on a thing. You just mentioned parts of systems and you also mentioned, well, they're all systems, I guess. You have double checking. You have — I mean, a system can be something as simple as a reminder or being repetitive about something. I always use the example—if you never want to lose your keys again, just put them in exactly the same place every day. You'll never lose them again.

Audrey Strong: I tell my husband that all the time.

C. Lee Smith:: And does he do it?

Audrey Strong: No.

C. Lee Smith:: And does he lose his keys?

Audrey Strong: Yes. So I said that. It's on the record now.

C. Lee Smith: So Rich, if you're producing this and listening this or whatever, she just outed you.

Audrey Strong: Whiteboards, post-​it notes, all kinds of systems, right?

Chris Denny: Yeah. There are so many systems. I mean, they can be complex. It can be Excel sheets, they can be complete software systems, they can be double checks, they can be procedures. On sales teams, they might say, "Hey, if you have a quote," depends on the team and what they're selling. But if you have a quote out there for more than 3 million, it has to be approved by a superior. That's a simple system but it just makes sure that the T's are crossed and the I's are dotted to make sure it goes out right and they actually make money on it. So, there's so many ways.

And then you put those together with the other elements, which are focused interests, knowledge, and there's an attitude component as well. And when you put those altogether, because of the five, some people are very strong — and when I say people, teams, this applies to entire teams as well, some are very strong and some are very weak and some have a little of all and none of the others, right? It's when you address them all and kind of fill in the gaps, that's where you can develop in an individual, well-​rounded detail orientation or attention to detail. And for a team that's where you can, on the average, reduce those everyday mistakes and increase the little wins here and there that together in the aggregate make a huge difference.

Audrey Strong: It's funny. I imagine this applies so much more broadly and so much deeper into business, people's businesses than I thought about it. I was imagining it as more of a task-​oriented type of thing or a work style-​oriented type of thing, but you actually have a way to calculate how the lack of it across any of these buckets you're referring to can actually be in real costs. How is that calculated?

Chris Denny: I'm working on a calculator for that now. It's literally a checklist on my schedule for tomorrow to get back to it. I kind of live by checklist, by the way, as you would imagine. It varies by task and by value of employee and all these things. And so that's what I'm trying to put together is — I'm not a programmer but I can Excel sheet the heck out of things. I am putting together a very robust Excel sheet that will be able to calculate, and you can put in variables such as type of job, the value of the employees, how many employees, how many times the mistakes are made at a given time or in a given time period, could be a day, it could be a week, it's whatever's relevant to the person filling out the calculator. So, there's so many variables, it's really hard to say. But as you can imagine, you've got the direct labor cost, right? And then you have materials cost if that's a component, if you're talking about a production line. And then if you go a step further, and the risk concern has happened and a mistake is made and we have to do a recall, or  hopefully it hasn't left the door, and we have to do a redo of everything that was about to go out the door, well, that's a whole other cost. It could be measured in worker productivity because of low morale, which comes up surprisingly — well, not surprisingly [crosstalk 00:12:13]. Yes, it's related, where the coworkers are, on average, they kind of have a little bit of a low morale because mistakes are just allowed in the system too often, because the systems don't — you always have those high performing workers that go, "Man, why can't everybody do is right."

C. Lee Smith: Attention to detail is not rewarded. So if it's not rewarded, then why bother?

Chris Denny: Right. So often. So there's a lot of variables and it is different from one organization to another.

C. Lee Smith: My dad always used to say that if you don't have time to do it right, when are you going to find time to do it over?

Chris Denny: Yeah. That's a funny thing, I'm a entrepreneur, I'm a business owner and so I always have this thing of you really do have to get it right but you also have to get started. So, I'm often torn between the whole ready aim fire, and ready fire aim philosophies, because sometimes I just have to get started and I go, "All right, man," just kind of look at what ought to happen and then pull the trigger and figure it out as you go along and clean up the mess.

Audrey Strong: Right. You have some tips for our listeners on how to look for a high attention to detail aptitude in candidates and then maybe even within existing staff, when you're looking at who to promote and that kind of thing.

Chris Denny: Yeah. So, I'm going to keep that simple. I'm going to keep it to one tip someone gave me several years ago, and I use it for my hiring. I'm kind of giving it away now. But it is really helpful. I call it the bird dog test. I call it the bird dog test, because that's a word, a phrase you're probably never going to see on a resume. When I put a job description out there, somewhere in the middle of it, I don't hide it but I don't put it in bold either, it will just be a separate line that says "Attention to detail is exceptionally important in this position. If you want to be considered for the role, include the phrase bird dog in your email or in your resume."

Audrey Strong: That's awesome.

Chris Denny: Yeah. So it does two things from that point. First of all, it saves you a ton of time in the resumes, right? And then also, presumably, so from what I can tell, you're typically going to automatically be able to knock out about 80% of your resumes, whether they're just resume slingers or whatever, because so many people don't even read descriptions, they're just slinging resumes. And so now you've reduced your time by 80%. So now you've got that to work with. And then from the rest, presumably, they were at least, if they aren't very detail-​oriented, which they tend to on average be more detail-​oriented, at least they're much more interested in your job, interested enough to read the entire description carefully, right? So there is a bit of an attitude component there, at least. So that's my big one. I call it the bird dog test, you can use your own. But that has served me well and others.

Audrey Strong: That's a great tip.

C. Lee Smith: What are the consequences of not having enough attention to detail? And I want you to think about this question in two ways, one of course is the money way, and you've touched on that a little bit already. But the other one is the political capital about as a manager, when we're preparing reports for upper management, maybe we're presenting those reports to upper management or something like that, where the attention to detail can really come back and bite us in our rear.

Chris Denny: Yeah, that's a big part of it. So, What I can tell you, I've been approached about workshops for management teams for that reason. Of course, the people considering the hiring weren't necessarily thinking like, "Well, I don't want my team to look like they don't know what they're doing," but it was more about wasting management's time and using everyone's time effectively and that sort of thing. What I have seen, I've received phone calls from people asking for one-​on-​one coaching for that purpose, and for sure people have purchased workshops, the online workshops, because that was their pain point.

C. Lee Smith: Let me ask the question in a slightly different way then. So as a manager then, I want my team to have greater attention to detail. I want to start with myself and I want to model that behavior. So, as a manager then, what or what detail should I pay more attention to first then so that it's demonstrable then to my team that I'm working on improving my level of attention to detail?

Chris Denny: The ones that matter most. It's different for everyone. My fear sometimes is that people think, "Well, I just need to catch a bunch of little stuff and all that," but you can become pedantic really fast, right, and then no one respects the person who just is picking up on little stuff that doesn't matter.

C. Lee Smith: The grammar police of the world.

Chris Denny: Yeah, that sort of thing. So, grammar doesn't matter if it's just you and me sending back a little email about happy hour or whatever.

C. Lee Smith: That ain't no lie.

Chris Denny: Yeah. But if it's an email, "Hey, can you check this? I'm going to send it to the CEO," well, grammar matters, let's get it right. It could be sent on from here even. If it is about a project or let's say it's a presentation that's going to be made to the upper management or to some pretty important investors or customers, well, details really matter in that. Hey, let's make sure there's nothing awkward or maybe a little offensive. Let’s make sure the pictures are of their products, if they're customers and not the competitors or something like that, maybe even make sure they use the right company colors.

C. Lee Smith: The proposal doesn't have somebody else's company name in it, where you used it before and you just forgot to change the name.

Chris Denny: Exactly, exactly.

Audrey Strong: Replace Chris Denny with Lee Smith, replace 20 occurrences.

C. Lee Smith: That's right.

Chris Denny: Exactly.

Audrey Strong: You know what else you say, though, and this ties into what, Lee, you just said, Chris, you say the number one mistake managers make is that they don't set up attention to detail as an expectation from day one. And I cop to that, I don't think I've ever had a discussion with anybody on my team about it, but I don't really have a bad actor.

C. Lee Smith: Well, you actually though exhibit though the behavior of attention to detail every single day.

Audrey Strong: I do, I'm kind of a maniac.

C. Lee Smith: People know when they work for you, they better bring attention to detail.

Chris Denny: Yeah. It's about setting the standards, that's a big part of it. And just making sure you identify the things that are important to get right. And like you said earlier, modeling.

C. Lee Smith: I think wherever there's numbers, there has to be attention to detail. I mean, it's payroll, it's taxes, it's production numbers. I mean, it's like, yeah, you're reporting that to upper management or whatever, it's like, you better have the numbers right and you better not be like, "Well, I think it's somewhere within a range between 10 and a million." It's like, come on.

Audrey Strong: That doesn't help when you're trying to manage up, you know.

C. Lee Smith: No.

Audrey Strong: I was going to say it's LinkedIn​.com, it's atdetail; Facebook, atdetail. And do you want to just — we've got a few minutes left, Chris, tell us about the workshops and the online courses. And by the way, the book, everybody it's on amazon​.com, logically.

Chris Denny: Yeah. Thanks so much. I'm really excited about the book. The workshops are available online. I'll be adding more as well. Those are available for teams who want to roll it out to multiple people, to dozens or hundreds even. If that's something that interests you, let me know because there are group discounts. The workshops, I go anywhere. I'm happy to go to different places, and I love doing the workshops, and I love being with teams. I've got one in about a week and a half in Nashville and I'm really looking forward to , it's about 45 people. So those are available. The best is when the workshop is done with a team or within people kind of within the same job roles, because they can identify with each other when we do the exercises, and they enjoy it the most, and I think they absolutely get the most out of it. So those are available, but it's attentiontodetail​.com. And I love hearing from people, so if anyone has questions, they're welcome to reach out to me.

C. Lee Smith: And the book is called to Improve Attention to Detail, and you get bonus points if you can actually find a typo in it.

Chris Denny: I'm waiting for it. I'm so waiting. I read it myself before it went out and had it edited by two other people, professionally edited, and I'm waiting for it, waiting for the–

Audrey Strong: There you go. Well, I got to tell you, you put the fear of God in us, Chris, because we always do heavy, heavy show prep. We're always ready, but that was particularly on my game today, so I couldn't be accused of lacking–

Chris Denny: You guys are great.

Audrey Strong: Thanks a lot, Chris. Thanks for coming to the show. We appreciate it.

Chris Denny: Thank you so much. Have a great day.

Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed the show, please rate and recommend on iTunes, Overcast or wherever you get your podcast. You can also get more great information at SalesFuel​.com.

This podcast is a part of the C‑Suite Radio Network. For more top business podcasts, visit c‑suite radio​.com.

 

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Audrey Strong

Audrey Strong

Vice President of Communications at SalesFuel
Audrey Strong heads all external and internal communications for SalesFuel, including public relations — which she has directed since 2014. Prior to SalesFuel, she founded her own public relations firm and served years as an award-​winning journalist in television news. Audrey earned her degree in broadcast journalism from Ohio University.
Audrey Strong

@tallmediamaven

13 TV news journalism awards PR/​Marketing & Former TV newser. Opinions solely my own.
@wfaaizzy thank you just now for acknowledging pet moms! Infertility robbed me of children but I care for my husban… https://t.co/BtCOCoPWjN — 2 months ago
Audrey Strong