Copyright (1998) by Ends of the Earth Learning Group. All right reserved.
GOLDEN RULES FOR CUSTOMERS AND SUPPLIERS
SUPPLIER RULES: Suppliers recognize that quality is defined from the
- Suppliers will ask customers what they need, and how well those needs are being
- Success will be measured by how well customer needs are being met and not by
what the suppliers want to give.
- Suppliers will listen to customer feedback without becoming defensive.
CUSTOMER RULES: Customers recognize that suppliers choose how
and when to focus their improvement efforts.
- Customers are responsible for giving clear precise requirements to suppliers.
- Customers will not blame suppliers for problems, but rather will recognize that
systems need improvement in order to improve overall quality.
- Customers will recognize that just because they ask for something doesn't mean
that suppliers will be able to meet those needs.
- Customers will give feedback in a manner chosen by suppliers.
JOINT RULES Customers and suppliers are working on behalf of the
- The phrase, "That's not my problem!" won't be used by either customers or
- Priority to the "final customer" will be given whenever an internal supplier faces
a conflict between taking care of an internal and external customer.
- Customers and suppliers will interact with respect and courtesy.
- Both customers and suppliers will keep in mind that they are part of the same team.
Life Without Evaluations
Feedback Questions for the Four Roles of All Employees
The annual evaluation continues to be given in American corporations even though it has long been the target of Total Quality writers like W. Edwards Deming and Peter Scholtes. The primary reason for its continued life is that too many managers have mistakenly thought that getting rid of evaluations meant getting rid of feedback to employees.
Instead of "giving" an annual evaluation, it is instead the manager's job to make sure that employees have mechanisms for letting them know how they are doing in an ongoing continuous improvement sense. Managers should help set up feedback loops, but should not put themselves in the communication chain between two individuals. (For instance, peers should talk directly to peers, and not through their supervisor.)
There are four roles which everyone has although the importance of each role varies between individuals. People need feedback questions answered more than once per year. Some individuals may get feedback daily. Other questions tailored to each person's job should also be developed. Sometimes-- especially when emotions get in the way-- facilitators and supervisors should oversee the communications process.
For the role of supplier, employees should ask customers questions related to the services they provide. In their role as internal customers, employees should ask questions about the nature of the feedback they give their suppliers. As a peer, employees need to talk to those people with whom they work. Lastly, as a leader (even when they are not a supervisor), employees need to find out how they are being perceived. The supervisor's role in all of this is to ensure that employees construct and maintain their feedback loops.
Almost always, communication is two-ways. When an internal supplier is asking feedback from an internal customer, then the roles can be reversed and the internal customer can then ask for feedback from the internal supplier. Keeping communications two-ways helps reinforce the sense that everyone is in the same system.
FEEDBACK QUESTIONS FOR THE FOUR ROLES OF
SUPPLIER, CUSTOMER, PEER, AND LEADER
|SUPPLIER ROLE: Interview your customers.
- What could I do for you that would most improve your
situation? ("Am I making mistakes? Do I get things to you on time? Do I need to give you something-- or do something-- beyond what I do now? Can you count on me to follow through?")
- What happens when you don't get what you need from
me? ("For instance, if I made mistakes, what kind of
rework do you have to do?" or "If I am late, what are
the consequences for you?")
- Do I give you anything you don't need? "Am I doing things for you only because we have always done it, even though no one knows why? If I can stop doing unnecessary things, it will give me time to improve the necessary things."
- What am I doing well for you? What do you want me
to keep doing?"I admit it, I need to hear positives as well as negatives."
- (Optional) Would you walk me through your work
process so I can understand how my work affects you?
(This is called job shadowing.)
|CUSTOMER ROLE: Interview your suppliers.
- Have I expressed my needs as a customer clearly
enough? ("Do you need precise time lines? Am I unclear
in my requests? Do I give you contradictory messages?
Have I made my priorities clear?")
- What kind of information do you want from me? ("Do
you want suggestions for how you could improve? Do you
want to hear about any mistakes I find? Do you want to
know when things are going well?")
- How often and in what manner do you want
information from me? ("Do you want feedback verbally
or in writing? Do you want feedback in a graph? Do you
want to know every time you made a mistake, or do you
want me to give you feedback just once a week or once a
- What kind of feedback do you want me to avoid? ("Do
I give you more feedback than you want? Do I make you
defensive? How can I improve the way I communicate
PEER ROLE: Interview your peers.
- When I take time off for vacations, do I
cause you difficulties? ("How could we improve this
process so that we can get our time off without causing a
crisis for everyone else? What should we do to make it
easier for all us to cope when one of us is unexpectedly
pulled away due to illness or emergency?")
- If you see me make a mistake or lose my customer
focus , do you feel comfortable talking to me about it?
("Let's talk about how I could get such feedback without
becoming more defensive.")
- Do you ever feel like I am telling you what to do or
criticizing you when it is none of my business?("Let's
talk about what we consider to be appropriate
- Is there anything I can do which would help the team?
("Am I carrying my fair share? Am I irritable or rude?
Do I do things that make you feel defensive?")
- Do I walk the talk of our team's value system? ("Do we
need as a team to talk about basic values?")
LEADERSHIP ROLE: Interview everyone.
- Am I trustworthy? ("Do I respect confidentiality? Do I
talk-- gossip-- inappropriately about other people? If I
promise to do something, can you count on it getting
done? Do I honor my time lines and commitments?")
- Do I walk my talk? (Do I do what I say I am going to
do? Am I willing to create conflict when people
contradict our values?")
- How do I respond when others make mistakes? How
do I respond when I make mistakes? Do I treat
mistakes as buried treasure, or as something horrible?
- Do I act in an interdependent manner or in an
independent manner? ("Do I act as if I am responsible
for all the good and/or bad things that happen? Do I get
sufficient input before making decisions? Do I share
decision making appropriately?")
- How do I respond to criticism and suggestions?
- Do I have a clear vision of where I am going? Is my
vision consistent with the rest of the organization?
For more detail on evaluations, see the column from Jan, 1999