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Oct 4, 201209:47 AMLeader to Leader

with Terry Siebert

Putting common sense into common practice

Putting common sense into common practice

When people ask me what we do at Dale Carnegie Training, one of the responses I often give is, "We help people, teams, and organizations put more common sense into common practice." This sounds fairly basic, but it never ceases to amaze me how often common sense does not prevail. Let's look at this idea a little closer with some real-world examples.

Common sense says: Treat your fellow team members with respect and value the diversity of all team members and what they can bring to the table.
Common practice says: Everyone has a lot of time pressure on the job and is more interested in getting his or her own job done.
Example: A project manager in a software engineering environment needs vital information from a fellow team member so a client deadline can be met on a timely basis. The team member, already pressured with other priorities, puts the information request on a back burner. The project manager explodes after finding this out. This reaction causes the other person to further retrench. In the meantime, meeting the client deadline becomes even trickier.

Common sense says: Sales and manufacturing should work hand in hand to meet and exceed customer expectations.
Common practice says: Making the sale, even at the expense of giving customers unrealistic expectations, puts incredible pressure on manufacturing.
Example: We have a client who was in the good (or bad) position a number of years ago of having a two-year lead time for a product. Even with this lead time, the sales team was out in the market trying to bring in even more business. The manufacturing folks were working 24/7 and being asked to work mandatory overtime to meet customer demand. Sometimes, in order to get the business, the sales folks would promise customers that they could get their order further up in the queue. This started to happen so often that the manufacturing folks would actually go out of their way to delay promised delivery dates. Needless to say, unhappy customers were the result.

Both of the above are real-world examples, and I can assure you that there are many, many more just like them. In both cases, there is a somewhat selfish perspective on both sides. That point of view, which should be 100% focused on the customer, is skewed by one’s own agenda. I am convinced that over 50% of people in the workplace today are more concerned about "ME" or "MY DEPARTMENT" than taking ownership of their positions to help their customers. This opinion is strongly supported by survey after survey measuring "employee engagement." Engaged employees are there to build their companies, not just their careers. Engaged employees know that the job of everyone in the company is to take care of the customer. Engaged employees work with others to get this job done.

Not surprisingly, in these same surveys, there is a great deal of documentation that indicates greater productivity and profitability occur when people are engaged in their jobs and the mission of the organization.

So what to do? Why not get off the common practice track and get solidly on the common-sense track. Your customers will be happier – both internally and externally.

Common-sense insights from the past

"Any fool can criticize, condemn, or complain – and most fools do." – Benjamin Franklin

"Strive not with others in argument, but always submit your judgment with modesty." – George Washington

"One of the surest ways of making a friend and influencing the opinion of another is to give consideration to his opinion, to let him sustain his feeling of importance." – Dale Carnegie

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Known for his Dale Carnegie training expertise, Terry Siebert is writing to inspire leaders to reach their greatest potential. Leadership, today more than ever, may mean the difference between closing the doors or opening new markets. Every month, he'll post help with mindset, business tools and more.

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