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Volume 7    Issue 6            November/December 2005

Customer Service
Tips for quality service

Time Count
by Carl Tompkins

I find it interesting to see the amount of time companies spend going through the motions of various activities that never culminate in the delivery of positive results. If going through the motions is all that an individual or company is willing to settle for, fine; such efforts are going to be condemned to the realm of “We tried our best,” “We worked hard,” and, best of all, “Well, I guess that didn’t work.” This scenario leads to tremendous amounts of money being lost through unjustified expenses that never yield profitable revenue as well as the loss of morale by people exhaustively running a race that is never finished thus never earning the blue ribbon.

Time is a precious asset and must be consumed with well planned activities that deliver results. You’ve got to make it count. And don’t be ashamed of demanding results. For a business to succeed, everyone involved must be accountable for their time and results. If this core element is ever lost, the company is in trouble. I once had a gentleman tell me that this seemed somewhat harsh within the realm of conducting business. I responded with the question, “How harsh would it be if management were to tell its employees that the payroll department had worked hard and tried their best to get checks out but didn’t make it?” The accountability for results is a two-way street; as much as employees expect their employers to be accountable for results, so too should employers expect the same. Without results, the company, and all those within, loses everything.

Focus on the Goal
To start making time count, focus on the desired outcome or goal. Make sure that the goal is stated in a manner that means something financially for your company. This equates to a measurable goal. 

Anyone and everyone affected by, and potentially involved with, attaining the goal needs to be made aware of the objective, the need for accomplishment, their role, and the consequences and payoffs of failure or accomplishment.

The next step is to appoint one person who is responsible for being in charge and making sure the mission is completed according to plan. This person needs the authority to make decisions and give orders. 

Many activities are going to need to be accomplished to achieve any business goal. Such activities are going to require proper planning, execution and the involvement of a number of people. Activities need to be designed, prioritized, assigned, and monitored for results. 

Do the Definition
Within the framework of activity design, be sure to begin by defining the activity. Provide a title to the activity and then a description of what is to be accomplished. Following the definition, state how the accomplishment of the activity will contribute to the goal attainment. This step provides a nice check-and-balance to the importance of the activity. Now, determine what people need to be assigned to complete the activity and who should lead. Prior to assembling the team, define how the activity will be monitored, the 
targeted outcome of the activity and time frame requirement.

Next, assemble the team and provide an overview of the goal and activity. Then get everyone involved in brainstorming how best to achieve the targeted outcome of the activity within the time allotted. Either individuals or a team of people can be involved with the task of activity design and accomplishment.

Assign a Champion
The assigned champion of the overall project then must coordinate all the activities into one cohesive game plan, like assembling a puzzle, in order to attain the total goal. It is important that progress be monitored and reported throughout the organization in order that everyone remain in the loop of communication and feel part of the process. The champion and owner then need to be sure to provide meaningful recognition to the individuals who made contribution to completing the activities that lead to the attainment of company goals.

Don’t waste time on activities that bear no fruit. Have a worthwhile goal to begin with, identify the required activities to attain the goal, and then conduct activities as previously outlined and you can count on making time count toward your greater business success. 

Carl Tompkins is the Western states area manager for Sika Corp., Madison Heights, Mich. He is based in Spokane, Wash.

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