Service management is a set of processes and procedures that allow us to serve the customer and make their experience valuable while being efficient, reducing “do-overs,” creating accountability, and thus, reducing costs to the organization.
In doing so, each of us has a role to play. The job comes with responsibilities, actionable items, and some authority that allow you to get things done.
The challenges I see many times are that individuals are in the wrong roles or have moved past their usefulness in a role. As a result, the processes and procedures we have fought for and so carefully aligned can fail.
In the 1980s, we were a manufacturing economy with a concentration in “process engineering.” That era strongly applied concepts such as Deming’s Cycle of Improvement (Plan, Do, Check, Act), governmental alignments such as ISO structures, and any number of concepts so that one could take out the “iffy” aspect of humanity by making everything a process. In other words, if you run a process, then everything is objective and there are no emotions, no behavioral issues, no chance for people to be subjective, and less chance for mistakes.
I remember studying a book on LEAN manufacturing back in the early 2000s. In the hundreds of pages that I struggled through (while drinking pounds of coffee to keep me awake), there were approximately five pages addressing the concepts that deal with the management of people in the lean processes established. That people management process was forceful. It felt like they were saying, “If they don’t walk the line, break one of their legs and make them hop the line.” That was my interpretation of the information. It seems that was many other people’s interpretation as well, based upon the dysfunction in the work place that was established during that time period. I think what we have learned over the past 30 years is that it’s actually the people that make the process work (or not), not the process itself.
One of the honorable and difficult roles I play for organizations is something I have coined as an Executive Viability Assessment. I will enter an organization and interview the management team with a set of questions. That information will assist me in determining if that person is in the correct role. Are they in the best role for their personality, strengths, abilities, and attitudes? If so, then coaching may be offered to establish them in that role. If they are in a role that does not serve them well, we work with HR, their manager, and team to move them to the best place for them. I know, doesn’t that seem logical?
Many times, more than not, I find people are in the wrong jobs. It’s NOT their fault. Perhaps they are really good at what they do technically or professionally. Their managers saw that competence and promoted them to a supervisory or management position. And now everything is falling apart subtly (or not)! Just because someone is good at their job does not mean they are good at managing people. Just because someone is good at managing a team doesn’t mean they are good at technical aspects.
We forget to let people shine based upon their personality styles, modalities of communication, attitudes, talents, gifts, and abilities. Or, even worse, we simply don’t bother to care or to find out. Imagine what it would be like if everyone on your team was in the right position.
What do I know about Chelsea? She was a “plow point.” What is a plow point? It is a farming tool that plows up the crusty ground so that the farmer can come behind and plant the seed. Unless the soil is churned and turned and then has furrows (rows) put in by that plow, then the crop is not planted. Chelsea’s strength was plowing up that crusty ground at her company.
Chelsea was immensely helpful as our director in the new startup company. We were doing something that had never been done before in the market. In other words, the “field” in which we worked had never been plowed.
She was powerful in how she made a way for the rest of the company to come and plant seeds in the new customer’s minds. We watched those seeds grow in to multi-million dollar deals, and the harvest of those deals still feeds history.
Chelsea was a plow point. When a plow has done its job, it needs to be put in the barn. She didn’t realize that.
That sharp, pointy-hard edge that is so effective in the beginning of a business’ vision is not needed once the furrows (processes and organization) have been made. It was as if she kept on digging and made it confusing for those who were planting seeds. Thus, there was frustration and conflict with the teams, and she felt everyone become frustrated with her as well.
Chelsea’s special skills and abilities were harming the team. It had limited or no use after her initial effort, so what was she to do? Her role had matured, the hard work was done, and now others were left to tend the field. She was left feeling useless and with no purpose.
We see this happening all the time. Either someone is in the wrong role or they have outgrown their role. Can we be flexible enough in our organization structure to put people in the right place? As with service management, the purpose is to serve the business and the customer. Service management is a group of frameworks, best practices, and philosophies. It includes continuous performance improvement. This includes so much more than improving processes. We grow our processes and they change. BUT, without people the processes do not get done. Sometimes people need to be included in that continuous performance improvement reengineering. So, how do we change our business cultures to be open to culture of placing the right people in the right places at the right time?
- Look at your processes. Are they working?
- Look at your people. Are they in the right positions?
- Do you have the flexibility to move people to get the best out of them?
- If you don’t have the flexibility, how can you create it?
- Talk to your people and find out what is important to them. What do they want to do?
- Plan out three years.
Put the right people in the right roles and watch their engagement, energy, enthusiasm, innovation, and passion increase. If you re-engineer your processes, re-engineer your people, too, and see your organization take off. That is going to ultimately allow service management to succeed. That will allow you to succeed too! Be the leader!