Saturday, October 24, 2009

Leaders enforce quality for success

I have been travelling again working with a company and visited two of their customer reference sites. At one site the customer was very positive and co-operative, working as a team with the main contractor. At the other site the customer was suspicious and constantly calling the company in to explain one choice or another.

At both locations I was lucky enough to witness the companies work and several of the deliverables. What I found was scary, the same company to me looked and acted like two different teams with very different attitudes and styles.

Interestingly at the "happy" site all the workers had a great sense of motivation and spent a lot of time with their customers working through the project plan, consulting when decisions had to made. At this site it was not surprising to find all the guys working late to fine tune the system. On inspection of the work-site the quality of the finished product and its documentation was absolutely flawless.

While at the site where the customer was less than happy, the workers were not acting as a team, they made decisions for their customer without consultation. This lack of consultation then prompted the customer to demand a "white" paper explaining every decision and why the final outcome was adopted. At this site many of the workings had a very flexible approach to work - almost to the point of the team not knowing when members would turn up each day. On inspection of the worksite the finished product was poorly presented and there was no documentation.

So on pondering this I went back and analysed why this situation had developed, both worksites had similarly qualified teams, both sites worked from the same process and equipment policies and manuals. This prompted me to examine the project team leaders, this produced a stark difference. One was a team player who was resolute about providing the highest quality in everything and constantly spending time with the customer to ensure the customer was satisfied with what they were to gain from the project. The other leader was stand-offish and driven by delegation usually by email, he also spent plenty of time with the customer, he appeared to be driven by completion and financial goals.

What did I take away from this week on the road, by focusing on a quality outcome, one leader had developed a co-operative and happy customer. we can learn from this and make it our quest to build and deliver high quality outcomes from our teams.


  1. This is certainly enlightening but some people just don't get it no matter how many times they are told to focus on customer satisfaction and quality. Leadership will play an important role in this case. One leader who focuses on quality and customer satisfaction will surely have the team focusing on quality and customer satisfaction also. While the other leader will be pushing for targets to be hit.

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