Recently my wife and I went to watch our four- and six- year-old grandsons play indoor soccer.
The teams play on half of a basketball court. Since these are beginning players, the coaches are allowed onto the court to help the players learn the game of soccer. And also, the referees are lenient with their calls.
Their coaches focused as much on things like effort and sportsmanship as they did on actually winning the game.
Observation: Great leaders answer the questions “How?” and “Why?” as they effectively move their team toward the goal.
As you can imagine, it was fun and comical to watch the teams of four year olds. In fact, the teams are really very dysfunctional.
Both teams seemed to congregate around the soccer ball to kick it. They looked like a herd following the ball around.
When the ball came to my four-year-old grandson, boy would he kick it good! He would even follow through in the direction it was going. That is until he got distracted.
One boy stopped to look at posters on the wall for a moment while his team started moving toward the other end of the court. That was my grandson.
One boy got distracted and began to walk the basketball court lines on the floor while his team went in another direction. That was my grandson.
One boy stopped to just look around the gym while the two teams clustered around the ball to kick it. Again, that was my grandson.
But, here’s the kicker! (Pardon the pun.)
Over the years, I’ve seen businesses and not-for-profit organizations behave with the same dysfunction.
The leader and the employees become distracted and go in multiple directions – giving little thought to the purpose or effectiveness of the team. Ultimately, they fail to serve their customers and usually fall short of their goal.
You may have encountered this in your own business or department. That feeling you get in your gut that tells you that you’re falling short. The realization that your team is inefficient… that it’s “dropping the ball”.
I’ve been there. I know what you’re feeling.
And I’m here to tell you that there is hope!
I found that the effectiveness and efficiency of my team soared when they embraced the Nside/Outside principle. Things began to change when we started to focus on the needs of the internal customer.
We discovered that…
In my previous blog post <click here>, I described the internal customer as anyone inside your organization who must rely on you for information, help, support, cooperation, resources and the like.
Great leaders can prevent dysfunction in their organization by asking three questions.
What happens when you do NOT get things right for your internal customers?
When your internal customer is not well-served, it’s only a matter of time before your external customer is adversely affected!
If your employees fail to provide the necessary support, information, resources or cooperation to each other, then frustration will surely follow.
And frustrated team members have a difficult time providing consistently good service to your external customer.
When support and cooperation aren’t present, the customer contact person is forced to make excuses. This puts them in an embarrassing and stressful position.
What happens when you DO get things right for your internal customers?
When you choose to serve your internal customer, you create an organization that is willing and ready to serve your external customer!
As my company embraced the Nside/Outside principle, we experienced:
- Increased customer delight and…
- Increased operating profit
Whenever you find “delighted” external customers, you can bet they’ve been helped by teams that have achieved internal customer delight through active and effective:
What Questions Must I Ask Myself?
Anytime I teach about the Nside/Outside principle, I find it helpful to remember a well-known bible verse when I reach this very important next step. That verse says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31 NIV
As you go through these questions below, remember it is not only what you say and do, but as much as how you say and do.
- Do my internal customers see me as helpful or as an obstacle?
- Would my internal customers report that they get put off or get the runaround when they need me?
- Would they say I am responsive and reliable?
- Would they say that I am concerned and caring or would they reply that I am apathetic to their issues?
- When doing things for my personal convenience collides with doing things that are convenient for my internal customer, which has the priority?
In summary, would they say I am careful, quick and kind? Is your organization dysfunctional like four year olds playing soccer? Are you ready to ask yourself the questions above? Please share your comments <here> and share this blog post with a friend and co-worker.