Within most plumbing and heating companies are departments such as service, sales, repair, installation or finance, and people rely on each other for information. Together, these departments form a team.
When information, regardless how slight, is not shared in a timely manner and with a cooperative attitude, then teams suffer. On the other hand, teams who have learned to leverage synergy to their advantage also understand the importance of being effective and efficient.
The words, synergy, effective and efficient are key teamwork terms. “Synergy” is the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts.
In other words, when two or more people combine their efforts, they can accomplish more together than if they added their accomplishments separately. Teams get more done working together than working apart. In mathematical terms, a synergy formula is: 2 + 2 = 5.
A key synergy attitude is humility. Specifically, to be less concerned with who gets the credit for the ideas and more concerned with how the ideas benefit the team as a whole.
The next teamwork term we will define is “effective.”
Being effective means knowing how to prioritize and complete work that brings you and your team closer to its goals. Companies rely on effective team members who will cooperative with each other especially during unforeseen situations.
Within service companies, a pre-arrival phone call, to convey that a technician is en route, is courteous and professional. These calls can be more effective when the correct information is shared and the correct questions are asked.
When the office calls a residential customer about a technician’s arrival time, it’s best to listen carefully for effective teamwork opportunities.
When a residential customer says, “We just moved in,” this should prompt a question. The question is, “Is the equipment accessible?”
In every aspect of business, facts must emerge supreme and the best managers understand how to create an environment that maximizes facts and minimizes opinion or hearsay.
Some basements are messier than others and clearing a path to the equipment is mutually beneficial. Teams can become ineffective when a customer’s messy basement hinders a technician from accessing the equipment thereby prolonging the service visit and impacting that day’s subsequent service calls.
The next teamwork definition is “efficiency.” Being efficient means knowing how to do the work with economy so as not to waste time and effort.
Going back to the previous pre-arrival phone call example, efficiency is achieved when the office team member knows what they’re supposed to say and how they’re supposed to say it.
While a phone professional should never sound like they’re reading a script, they should certainly have a one handy. Why? Because knowing what you are supposed to say enables you to focus more attention on how to say it. With proper pace of speech, articulation, vocal melody and less verbal junk, team players convey a positive vocal image of their company and themselves.
So how do scripts add efficiency? The answer is that scripts help phone professionals get more work done right the first time with enhanced communication, fewer misunderstandings and greater customer rapport. Since efficiency involves working with greater economy, minimizing waste and rework are priorities. The cumulative impact of saved minutes during a workday adds up to improved teamwork and greater profitability.
While we would all agree that the best conflict resolution strategy is not to get there in the first place, experience has taught us otherwise. Misunderstandings can arise among both internal customers, those with whom you work, and external customers, those who pay for the products and services you deliver.
Both internal and external customer situations can result in conflict and tense relationships.
Workplace conflict is defined as two or more people having opposing views on the same issue. Would humility help avert workplace conflict? You bet. However, the reality is that conflict does arise and managers should be prepared to handle it.
The best managers leverage four key teamwork behaviors that help minimize conflict. These behaviors are awareness, inquiry, listening and discernment. A manager who is aware of their team’s strengths and weaknesses asks the right questions, listens intently to convey empathy and discerns how to best proceed.
These four behaviors facilitate a two-way exchange of information at which time employees feel safe about revealing their underlying concerns. The safe environment, that enable employees to speak openly and honestly, is the beginning of how good managers resolve conflict and build teamwork. In every aspect of business, facts must emerge supreme and the best managers understand how to create an environment that maximizes facts and minimizes opinion or hearsay.
Peter Drucker, the renowned management expert and author, asked managers a critical question. He asked, “Should managers do things right or should managers do the right things?” The answer to this question lies in Drucker’s simple, yet profound explanation: “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
So, we can learn from Drucker’s answer that “doing things right” involves management expertise and that “doing the right things” requires relationship savvy. The culmination of knowledge and relationship are critical factors in effective conflict resolution.
The best managers understand that it is awareness that results in the knowledge that helps discern how to resolve potential conflict. So, we see that both awareness and discernment are behaviors that help managers to “do things right.”
Do the right thing
We also see that inquiry, which includes the proper way to ask questions, and listening which help necessitate a manager’s relationship skills which then enable him to “do the right things.”
We all seek success in our lives, both personally and professionally. And successful people are not without problems — they are people who have learned to solve problems and conflicts. Everyone, regardless of their background, education and life experiences, encounters conflicts. The difference is in whether a manager knows how to be constructive when resolving them.
Effectiveness and efficiency are key teamwork behaviors and, when implemented, result in greater synergy.
Today’s plumbing contractors would be smart to put more effort into their company’s teamwork. Why? Because the benefactors of improved teamwork are your external customers and more importantly, your customer’s convenience. And the convenience factor is what drives today’s customers to buy.
Steve Coscia trains contractors in customer service and soft skills. He can be reached at 610/8539836 or e-mail at [email protected], and on the Web at www.coscia.com.