How many times have you heard the phrase, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease?”
While I usually take a counterpoint on conventional wisdom by encouraging people to bite off more than they can chew and leap before you look, I actually think being the squeaky wheel can get most people what they want out of business and life.
As a car and motorcycle guy who likes to drive really fast, you better believe I take this phrase seriously. The last thing you want at 100+ MPH is a $10 part blowing out under high pressure, and a new squeak from a performance vehicle is never a good sign.
Squeaky wheels have their place in business, too… and they can cut both ways.
Squeaky Wheel Employees
To paraphrase Tony Robbins, if you want better answers, ask better questions.
When an employee asks me good questions… that’s a good squeak. When they’re 5 minutes late for every meeting, that’s a bad squeak.
The most eager, hardworking, intelligent, thoughtful employee can still be stuck doing entry-level tasks if they don’t make their employer aware of their contributions. Tooting your horn in this way is a good squeak, and can create huge results for the employee.
15Five has essentially created a tool to help people do this, and the key is that it’s not bragging if it’s true. Wins should be celebrated, and it’s a true win if the employee accomplishes it on behalf of the company.
Tell your boss what you’re doing, and you’ll excel if what you are doing is worthwhile and valuable. If you are ineffective, ask for help. Employers have access to the grease, but you need to tell us where to apply it to make the machine run better.
Squeaky Wheel Media
Do you ever interact with the media? You need to squeak. A lot.
Every reporter, editor and popular blogger is inundated with press releases and requests for coverage. In the 15 years since starting my business SCOTTeVEST, we’ve received thousands of articles, TV segments and online mentions. Name a publication, and we’ve been in it. I even wrote a book about personal promotion.
How did I do it? I was the squeaky wheel. If I sent a press release, I followed up with an email. If I sent a sample, I would reach out within minutes of receiving the notification that it was delivered. If someone covered us once, I let them know the next time we launched a new product, then the next, then the time after that.
You don’t need to be obnoxious, but you do need to get noticed.
F.U. Squeaky Wheels
Someone could write a book about the theory of being a squeaky wheel, but if you want to understand the heart of it in a practical way: F.U. As in, Follow Up.
In my article about following up, I write about some of the reasons for and mechanics of following up as a technique for managing teams and accomplishing goals. Being a squeaky wheel (in a positive way) is one reason WHY following up works.
It’s good to stay on someone’s mind, and as long as you are asking the right questions, providing good info and generally moving things forward, there are a lot of tangible benefits to being the squeaky wheel.
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ABOUT SCOTT JORDAN and SCOTTeVEST
Scott Jordan is the CEO and Founder of SCOTTeVEST, which creates multi-pocket clothing designed to carry electronics. He is the author of Pocket Man: The Unauthorized Autobiography of a Passionate, Personal Promoter.
Read a sample of Scott’s book for more about his experience on Shark Tank and the pocket empire he has built.