Because of the tremendous success of my company’s first Operation QIC® (pronounced “quick” for Quality Is Contagious) half-day workshop, eight months later we had our second Operation QIC workshop.
I ended that first meeting by playing off the word, “contagious”. I challenged everyone to catch and spread the QIC spirit and head back to the operating room (place of business) to handle the quality epidemic.
And our employees really caught the quality spirit!
The second meeting was centered on teamwork and the concept of the internal customer. We focused on the basic principle that customer satisfaction is a by-product of employee satisfaction. This is the cornerstone of a people-first culture.
Who is my Internal Customer?
Internal customer and internal supplier are terms we use to describe relationships within our own organization.
An internal customer is a person or group that receives products and/or services from an internal supplier.
These internal customer/supplier interactions typically do not involve prices or fees since the customers and suppliers are members of the same organization.
Every organization can catch the quality spirit by “scoping-out” these four simple questions.
At the second off-site Operation QIC workshop, our people arrived wearing their surgical scrub shirts and QIC button that were given to them at the first workshop. (see picture above)
The Four Questions
Like the first meeting, we had our employees break into groups according to their business unit.
We asked people to sit in table groups of no more than eight people per table to encourage interaction and discussion.
Each table group used flip charts to record their ideas and answers to the following four questions as it related to their business unit:
- What are the characteristics/behaviors of good internal suppliers?
- What can internal customers do to help their internal suppliers be able to serve them better as a team?
- What are the most frequent/significant breakdowns in teamwork?
- What are the two specific things that you will do to be a better team player (a better internal customer/supplier)?
Afterward, I had all groups return to give a full report.
I finished the workshop by challenging all employees to view themselves as internal suppliers and to envision others as internal customers to build effective working relationships and to encourage clear communications of needs and expectations among individuals, work groups, and business units.
And as a result, when the product and service reaches the external customer, quality is built-in at every step.
The Follow Up
We headed back to the operating room (place of business) to handle the quality epidemic! In the following days, our leadership team accomplished perhaps the most important part of this whole process…
Our leaders followed-up with every employee, using a specific procedure that helped them identify who their internal customer was, and establish how to serve them in the best possible way.
I would like to share with you the procedure that we used with our people! I have prepared a downloadable Internal Customer/Supplier Alignment Guide for you to use as you follow-up with your own team members. It’s FREE, and you can download it immediately by <clicking here>. Feel free to print it or save it for your own use.
The internal customer concept is one of the more interesting paradoxical truths of leadership:
Focus on the inside people and processes – and reap the rewards on the outside, with enhanced customer service and delight!
Well…you too can spread the quality epidemic in your organization by prescribing to the four simple questions above.
How do you enhance teamwork in your organization? Do you have a people-first culture? What are your people doing to be better team players? Please share comments <here> and share this blog post with your friends and co-workers.