The spread of electronic technology makes you capable of speaking with people around the world, and even to see their faces while doing so. Digital photography enables someone to forward a shot to you instantly. You can have scores of deputies gathering information for you about what’s happening in your department or company. But sometimes you have to see it for yourself.
There’s no substitute for being in the space your workers are in, to experience the environment in its whole. You may notice noise, mess (or tidiness), relationships good or bad among co-workers, or the extreme temperatures in which they work every day. You may look around and see quality problems intercepted – or allowed to pass through your production process all the way to the end. You can observe teamwork, productivity, and even motivation. You can’t adequately get that kind of comprehensive picture by looking at your computer screen or with the phone up to your ear.
In person is the place where real relationships are built. Yes, even in person the other individual can choose to package himself or herself and attempt to tell you only what he or she thinks you want to know. But when you are out there with some frequency it’s harder to edit all of the reality out of the picture. In addition, they can understand you, your priorities, and your commitment to them and the company its customers better when they see and hear the whole message from you – in the flesh.
Are you making business decisions based upon incomplete information? If you are not going out there and seeing it for yourself you do not have the whole picture. To stay sequestered in your ivory tower is to take additional and unnecessary risk in your business.
Get out there. Shake some hands. Ask some questions. Have a few informal chats along the way. You may find that your operation is very different from the one you thought it was.