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Service Management Excellence Part One

A defendant was on trial for murder. There was strong evidence indicating his guilt, but there was no corpse. In his closing statement, the defense attorney decided that he had a foolproof way to ensure a verdict in favor of his client. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury,” he said. “I have a surprise for you. Within one minute, the person that everyone thinks is dead will walk into this courtroom.”

He looked toward the courtroom door. The jurors were all stunned, and they sat transfixed, staring at the door. After a long minute, nothing happened. Finally, the lawyer said, “Actually, I made it all up about the dead man walking in. But you all looked at the door with anticipation. So, that means you had reasonable doubt about the victim being killed, and if there is reasonable doubt, then you have to come back with a verdict of ‘not guilty.’”

When the jury came back after a short deliberation, they said “guilty.”

“What!” exclaimed the lawyer, “You couldn’t arrive at that conclusion if you had any reasonable doubt, and I saw all of you stare at the door, which showed that you had reasonable doubt.”

“You’re right,” said the jury foreman, “you looked at the door, and we looked at the door, but your client didn’t.”

As a service manager, you’re facing some challenges, (among them being the person responsible for making sure that everybody you supervise knows what they’re supposed to do in any given situation) and you need to know how to meet, deal with, and decide what to do about those challenges. So here you are…. you’ve always kept a good work ethic, strived to keep learning, dedicated yourself to doing your job in the best way possible, and you’ve been promoted. Or, maybe you’re not exactly brand new at this management thing and you’re looking for information on how to do your job or manage your business more effectively than you have in the past.

And sometimes there are things you need to consider that are, well, not exactly comforting to consider when it comes to supervision, but, as they sometimes say in Texas…” If you have to swallow a bucket of frogs, you might as well get the biggest one done first”, so, here we go:

Some Hard Facts About Service Management/Supervision….

…Management is not a popularity contest.

…Management is not easy. That’s why some people either don’t do it well, or don’t do it at all.

…A supervisor’s best protection against lawsuits (yes, you hate the idea of having to deal with this issue, but you know you might have to sometime) is knowing the right thing to do and doing it consistently. According to Westlaw, a legal research service, plaintiffs win 51 percent of the time when EPL (Employment Practices Liability) claims go to trial.

…15% of your success as a supervisor is related to your technical skills.

…85% of your success as a supervisor is related to your people skills.

…People in a work environment don’t want to be managed. People want a leader, and a leader must lead by example. (No, you won’t be perfect all the time and you can be sure you’ll be reminded when you’re not, so just accept that.)

…It takes more than a desire to make more money or advance in your career to be an effective supervisor. It takes dedication, hard work, being open to constant self-examination, and a willingness to consider what everyone, whether you report to them or whether they report to you, has to offer in the way of advice, suggestions, and criticisms.

What these hard facts explain is that supervisors are people who decide things. Sometimes they decide right, and sometimes they decide wrong, but they decide. And when you look at it from that simplistic perspective, it means that every time you decide, there’s risk involved. It might be a low-level risk with an easy fix, or it might be a high-level risk, which means that, sometimes you have to be willing to gamble.

We don’t for a moment mean to insinuate that it’s like gambling in a casino where the odds of the success of the house are heavily weighed against your success. We mean calculated risks. And calculated risks, while still a risk, are undertaken with skills as a support system. And there are 10 skills that will allow you to deal effectively with the hard facts we mentioned…. and allow you to take calculated risks. Here are those 10 skills:

1. Leadership
2. Hiring Wisely, Retaining The Best, and When Necessary, Sucking It Up and Firing The Worst.
3. Delegating
4. Time Management
5. Building Effective Teams
6. Coaching Effectively
7. Dealing Effectively With Negativity
8. Crises Management
9. Setting Goals
10. Developing Your Career Through Life-long Learning

You’ll likely agree that the skills we’ve listed (along with a few others you can probably think of) are necessary for effective supervision and service management, and while it’s easy to think “easier said than done” when considering a list like this at its face value, there’s a simple, yet important point we want to make about understanding the process of developing the above-mentioned skills. There’s an underlying philosophy to succeeding at it, and it’s simple. It’s the willingness to accept responsibility.

Some people may harbor the belief that that it’s difficult accepting responsibilities, that some people just “aren’t cut out” to take on the challenges of accepting responsibility. But here’s a simple way to think about it. Anyone who thinks that accepting responsibility is difficult or complicated, needs to consider how much responsibility they accept every time they get behind the wheel of a car. Everyone who drives a car accepts the responsibility to do several things simultaneously and do them just right all the time. And the bottom line on driving is that if someone isn’t simultaneously doing all the things it takes to drive a car, and doing them just right consistently, the result is disaster.

So, if you’re one of the approximately 95% of the population, who regularly engages in driving an automobile, you’re already on your way to developing the necessary skills to effective supervision…. practicing leadership. In Part Two of this series, we’ll discuss the concept of being a leader while doing the job of a managing a service department.

Live For Today, Look Forward To Tomorrow
Jim