Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mining Diamonds by Purposeful Walk-arounds

Guest post by regular Great Leadership contributor Beth Armknecht Miller:

One of my clients recently returned from the Baptist Leadership Conference and during his management meeting he was reporting back on his learnings from the conference and what he intended on implementing.

As he ran down the list there was one technique that is so easy to implement and when done effectively, can provide a leadership team with valuable information. The technique is "Rounding with a Purpose", and I wanted to share it with Dan's readers. In essence, it takes the traditional "Management by Walking Around" and develops a structure using questions that are thought out in advance based on the current challenges management is facing.

How would you take this idea into your organization and implement it? What information today, are you not receiving because you aren't asking the right questions of employees working on the front lines, the workers closest to many challenges a company faces?

Here are two typical business situations along with questions you may want to use that can help you learn more about what you, as a leader, can do to increase the success of your people as well as your organization.

Situation 1: There has been a recent increase in customer complaints
Questions:
• If you could change one thing that can improve customer service, what would you do?
• What complaints have you been hearing recently from customers?
• What service policy is getting in the way of improved customer service?

Situation 2: Sales have been trending down in recent months
Questions:
• If there could be one thing we could change about our products and/or services that would increase sales, what would it be?
• What new product/service would you offer to our customers that would cause them to recommend us to others?
• What questions should we be asking our customers that we aren't already?
• What product/service causes the most problems for you?

As you will note, the situations are specific to a certain business function but don't let the situations lead you into a familiar trap. Don't ask the situational questions just of those in that department. For instance, if the issue is sales, make sure you don't just ask the sales department. Make sure to get a good cross section of input.

Once you start gathering this information, it is time to share it with your management team and teach them the technique so they can implement as well.

So what questions are you not getting answers to from your management team? And if these questions were asked to your line workers, what hidden gems may be mined? Asking good questions can unearth some uncut diamonds that may provide you with some long awaited answers.

I would love to hear your ideas of how you have used this technique to your benefit and institutionalize it within your company so all managers are consistently listening to employees. And, what particular questions have you used to obtain information that you might not have obtained otherwise?

And if you are in the health care industry and haven't heard about the Baptist Leadership Institute, check them out by clicking on this link. http://www.baptistleadershipinstitute.com/.

Beth Armknecht Miller, of Atlanta, Georgia, is Founder and President of Executive Velocity, a leadership development advisory firm accelerating the leadership success of CEOs and business leaders. She is also a Vistage Chair and Executive Coach. She is certified in Myers Briggs and Hogan leadership assessment tools and is a Certified Managerial Coach by Kennesaw State University. Visit http://www.executive-velocity.com/ or http://executivevelocityblog.com/ or follow her on twitter at SrExecAdvisor.

1 comment:

John Murphy said...

Beth, thanks for this. Great questions. This approach generates huge benefit. The process of asking questions, as opposed to always giving solutions, opens the conversation. Important that questions are never closed questions but more along the lines you indicate.
Thanks again