Attention to detail is often misunderstood in business. Being detailed oriented doesn’t mean you are without broad ideas and grand plans. It doesn’t mean you are petty with a penchant for micromanaging and control. Instead, being detail oriented is a vital component of success and is what often turns a good idea into a profitable business.
One common objection against paying attention to details is that it wastes time and money. According to this argument, as long as a task is performed reasonably well, it's not worth worrying about crossing the "t's" and dotting the "i's." This argument is shortsighted, however, and leads to sloppy results and eventual failure. When a task is not completed to the highest standards, it needs to be redone, which takes time. Rewriting, seeking clarification and correcting errors that resulted from poor attention to detail takes valuable time away from you and your team and ends up affecting your profits by using up additional resources.
One of the most important reasons to pay attention to detail is for the sake of clear and effective communication. Imagine a crucial message being passed down a long the chain of command. If the message is slightly distorted in its first trip and a bit more on its second, it will probably get mangled and unintelligible by the time it reaches its destination. Double checking and taking time to ensure the meaning of any message is specific and clear is effective communication. A report that lacks clarity and detail might result in a confused workforce that can’t complete the day’s work because the report raised more questions than answers.
Workplace safety is another reason to pay close attention to details. While businesses vary greatly in terms of safety risks, even the least dangerous workplaces can benefit from attention to detail. Observe how similar these two statements are: "Push the red button," and "Never push the red button." One word makes all the difference. This may seem extreme, but considering how costly serious workplace accidents can be, it is vital that every spoken and written word is absolutely accurate. Keeping a safe work environment allows your business to reach its potential and often it's as easy as ensuring that details are clearly explained and understood.
Clients want to do business with a company they can trust for consistent performance. It's counterproductive to do an excellent job only some of the time. Imagine an auto company that sold one faulty car and 99 perfect cars out of every 100 made. They would have a horrible reputation as erratic, irresponsible and untrustworthy. Companies that become pillars of their industries do so through consistent excellence. After a while, the brand becomes a symbol of quality. Attention to detail is something that almost any client prefers over speed and quantity. Attention to detail is seen as a hallmark of professionalism, passion, and reliability in almost any field.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."