Refocus On Your Customers
By refocusing your attention on your customers, many of your other management challenges may become easier to solve.
Many years ago when I was in college, I worked for a highway construction company during summer vacations. I had the opportunity to try my hand at nearly every possible job. One of the tasks I enjoyed the most was working as an engineer's assistant, setting grades for the excavation work.
This process involved locating an established benchmark or target for comparison purposes, then leveling and focusing the transit to insure accurate grade readings. We would "shoot" a few grades, then recheck the level settings and focus of the transit. Any number of factors could cause the transit to shift and then our readings, in relation to the benchmark, would be off. Failure to periodically recheck the equipment could lead us to set incorrect grade elevations and miss our target.
While reminiscing about that fun summer job, I thought about the similarities between it and our jobs as in-plant managers. We each have an established benchmark—our customers and their satisfaction. We are faced with pressures, deadlines, personnel issues, financial challenges, equipment failures, technology changes and many other factors every day. If we aren't very careful, we can lose sight of our benchmark.
An in-plant manager's primary job must always be customer service. Whether you realize it or not, you are—first and foremost—the customer service and marketing manager for your department. I believe most successful in-plant managers have strengthened their customer focus in the past few years. But I think it's time for us to revisit this area again. Let's check to see what has been working well and where we need to improve. It's time for us to recheck our transits; time for us to refocus on our customers.