Often times, usually during peak service performance or high production runs, certain events occur, which throw what could have been a well-managed service or productivity cycle, into some level of chaos or uncomfortable confusion. From these types of occurrence’s, the normal production trajectory can no longer be sustained and increases pressure to a committed delivery cycle. Examples of this are when a particular job is quoted based on experience and known facts, only to find out once into the work an assume level of expectation on the part of the customer or supplier was not what you believed it to be. On the product side, this could be a major breakdown, software change to an electronic control, or even a change to raw materials. In either case, regardless of the business model which was applied, there becomes a need for changes to how productivity is being managed. The key to successfully navigating through the situation is first and foremost STAY CALM. Secondly, strive to fully understand the whole situation as opposed to just one piece (your own).
Finger pointing and posting blame does not solve the problems at hand when you are faced with unexpected constraints to your delivery cycle. At the end of the day, your customer doesn’t really care whose fault it is even if it is theirs or simply not yours. They only care about getting to the same end point in the same amount of time. Understand what has happened along each step of the process which led up to your situation. Don’t make assumptions to what you think you know or what you think everyone else knows. Having a full knowledge of the situation will not only increase the speed for a solution, it will also ensure a sustainable solution. Working collaboratively with key leaders both upstream and downstream of the affected process will greatly increase the chances of reaching a sustainable resolution. This logic in no way implies self-fault or guilt, but does establish a positive position for assistance and guidance. While this may seem like it can only apply to large issues, this logic is very much applicable to any situation where the assumed normal course of business gets impacted by an unforeseen circumstance.
Consider if you are servicing a customer and the call comes in describing how the situation has changed in an extreme negative manner. Impacts to a service schedule and other customers can be impacted. Collaboration will persevere. On the other side, if the same situation could affect running a production line where the output is impacted due to faulty raw materials or an internal situation that will put the delivery in jeopardy. In either case, while you can’t build into every production run or service job, the worst case scenario, you can rise above it by fully understanding what happened and where in the process it happened. This may lead to simple policy changes, process controls, or even contractual adjustments which can offset future occurrence’s of the same or similar incident’s. It doesn’t have to be a big problem or have huge impact to an operation to be considered a negative effect to the organization. Blame does not get to a resolution, whereas finding the where in the process things went wrong and the drivers that lead to it.
Digging into a situation which has put your productivity or service level at risk is paramount to improving your overall business model. Showing patience and restraint towards simply pointing the finger to others will go a long way towards showing both internal and external folks your ability to manage through adversity. It is far better to become a facilitator for solutions verses simply exacerbating the problem. First and foremost, rising above the situation and assisting in the resolution will build customer confidence and self-professionalism. This can easily be done without simply taking blame but not posting blame either. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t really matter where the fault lies as much as understanding what it takes to overcome the situation and what needs to be done to prevent or minimize it in the future. This will not only increase your value to your customers but also to your employees and staff.
O.M.E.M., LLC – Helping Businesses Improve