tips for quality service
In It to Win
by Carl Tompkins
“In it to win” is a phrase that should be consistent in all positions
and all subjects. In essence, we should be the best at what we do and
win the blue ribbon in whatever races we decide to run. To truly be in
it to win, people and organizations must first choose this pursuit, commit
to the accomplishment and then take the proper action to finish in first
This common mistake by upper management can be summed up best by a situation
encountered years ago by the then Baltimore Colts. Prior to a championship
game, Coach Don Shula delivered a pre-game pep talk to his team. After
delivering his motivating comments he looked over to quarterback Johnny
Unitas and asked him for any final words of encouragement. Johnny, a man
of few words, said, “Talk is cheap, let’s play the game!” If the point
remains unclear, management’s walk had better match their talk and the
playbook used to run the organization had better result in actions that
win business championships.
Following is a playbook to test the reality of whether your organization
is really in it to win.
Play #1: Corporate Culture-Atmosphere-Environment
The top person in the organization must make sure that the way business
runs, the feelings within the organization, how people operate and the
elements (policies, procedures, facilities, equipment, etc.) used to run
the organization are set on a winning course. A winning course is defined
simply as a harmonious effort, set on trust, that every effort, for the
common good of the team, is directed toward the goal of being champion.
Being a champion most often centers on profitable, financial growth.
Indications that the play is not being run properly: Team members find
and feel that the PEP (Politics, Ego and Pride) Trap rules the organization.
This often leads to the wrong people running the organization in the wrong
way. Management will do the right thing only when politics, egos and pride
Play #2: Change is Constant
If a company is great enough to lead in its field, it had better remember
that the competition is never far behind. The modus operandi of competitors
is to attain the same level of success by duplicating products and services
at lower costs and selling at lower prices. This happens in all industries
and this fact requires industry leaders, responsible for innovation, to
improve existing products and services while adding new products and services.
It should be noted that improving existing products and services is limited
and the majority of efforts needs to create change through adoption of
new business strategies that incorporate new products and services.
Indication that the play is not being run properly: There is nothing
new to offer, and the majority of effort is matching lower competitor
Play #3: Reliability is #1
Within the product line and services offered by a company, those products
and services had better be reliable—meaning the services and products
sold had better arrive on time and function exactly as promised the first
time. This is a controllable element within running a business and management
had better live to a zero-defect policy. Systems had better be in place
to make sure things go as plan and the right people need to be put in
the right positions.
Indication that the play is not being run properly: There is lots of rework,
account credits, “I’m sorry” customer lunches and management consuming
everyone else’s time with excuses and apologies. Customers are leaving
no matter what the price.
Play #4: People Win Championships
Management (the coach) must take care of the employees (the team) by being
sure they are fueled to win championships. Employees must know what is
expected of them, be taught how to comply, attain regular feedback and
have a good example of leadership to follow. Management must solicit input
and feedback from employees and respond to such information 100 percent
of the time. Breakdown here results in the failures of play number 2 and
Indication that the play is not being run properly: Management works in
a vacuum. Employees are encumbered with work that has nothing to do with
their assigned position. Furthermore, employees are being asked to do
more than what is fair and forced to use business systems and products
that are ineffective.
Carl Tompkins is the Western states area manager for SIKA Corp.
in Madison Heights, Mich. He is based in Spokane, Wash. Mr. Tompkins’
opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.
© Copyright 2009 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.