Volume 11, Issue 6 - November/December 2009

Customer Service
tips for quality service

Effective Effort
by Carl Tompkins

Everyone in business should understand that the term “effort” is synonymous with action. Effort must take place within any endeavor in order for positive results to occur. People in business often exert the necessary amount of effort but fail to attain the desired outcome. The reason for missing the mark, simply put, is that the wrong form of effort takes place. There are a few categorical rules to follow in order to ensure that all efforts are effective efforts, resulting in the attainment of goals by the best way possible.

“Good records allow for the elimination of forgetfulness and
proof of activity completion.”

The Rules
Rule 1: Commit to the outcome—not the process. Right up front, people must be clear and committed on the desired outcome of any given business situation. Examples of a desired outcome may be preservation of your job, selling a new product, or avoiding an employee lay-off. Being committed to the outcome causes people to be open-to using the best means, or, most effective type of effort. A great example of proving this point comes from “El Dorado,” a western movie starring John Wayne. Character actor Jack Elam, who played Wayne’s sidekick, carried a sawed-off shotgun and sack of shotgun shells around with him during the entire picture. During one shoot-out with the villainous gang, John hollered out to Jack, “You’re not going to hurt anybody shooting that scatter gun at this distance!”

Jack replied, “You’re right, but I just like to shoot. You don’t mind, do ya?”

As you can see by this example, Jack was not committed to the outcome, just the joy of shooting. If Jack had been committed to the outcome, he would have moved in closer to the target or, to be even more effective, used a carbine rifle.

One additional benefit from following the first rule is that it prevents people from jumping ahead too quickly and taking the easy route of effort. Going too fast and doing what comes naturally can be very costly since it most often incorporates emotion and short-term fixes that lead to long-term losses.

Rule 2: Never settle for getting even. Unfortunately, there are those people, companies and organizations in every industry who conduct business in a manner that can be damaging to others. Such business tactics can even be unethical. Such practices can be very upsetting. The worse type of effort to undertake in responding to such cases is trying to get even. This is akin to the phrase “taking the low road.” From my many years in the world of business, I’ve witnessed many people take the low road through various tactics. Rarely, if ever, do they come out on top. In fact, the only outcome that I’ve seen is that all parties involved lose. The effective effort when working through tough situations is to take the high road and confront the source of the situation head on with a positive resolution in mind for everyone involved.

Look at the situation from all points of view, especially from every angle other than that of your own. This step brings a more comprehensive and objective approach to solving any problem by taking multiple points of view into account. Next, clearly define your desired outcome, making sure it is fair and appropriate. This goes a long way in motivating any potential opposing party to implement a solution and move from an adversary to an advocate. Finally, design a path of correction defining who, what, where, when and why.

Rule 3:
Appropriate administration. In most every case, effective efforts are going to involve many more people than just you. It is amazing to see how the best plans can fail because they lack appropriate administration. Here, we refer to the subjects of follow-through, punctuality and recordkeeping. Follow-through simply means to finish everything you start and correspond with everyone involved in order that communications remain intact. Punctuality requires being on time all the time and plan things out well in advance. Good records allow for the elimination of forgetfulness and proof of activity completion. The best part of this rule is that it is regulated merely by choice.

There you have it; three great rules to make sure that your efforts pay off in the most efficient and profitable manner possible.

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.