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Mark,

I have drafted my six questions, created my one-slide presentation (you are right, it can be done.-) and am now drafting the e-mail invitation closely following your sample.

Question: I am listing the six questions as you recommend. How do I discourage them from answering them in a "reply with history" e-mail? I want the face time.

Regards,

Glenn

Mark's picture

Glenn-

Good question. There's always that risk when one is clear up front, but I think it's a better fundamental approach anyway.

I think the questions themselves make the kind of reply you're talking about unlikely. Nevertheless, accepting your premise, I would simply send back,

"Thanks for the insights. I'd still like to meet with you - it's only 30 minutes - and probe a little further."

If they say no, well, they're a rarity, and we've learned that they like email for communicating. I would make meeting with them early on other issues relating to their department high on my list.

Bottom line: this is a rare enough instance (most places) to not change the clarity upfront principle.

Thanks, and it's a privilege to serve you.

Mark

GlennR's picture

[b]Thanks, for the fast feedback, Mark[/b]. If that does occur, then I'll build on your recommendation and reply to the effect of "those are some great answers, and I'd like to talk with you in person about them." Or something similar.

The appointments will be requested for the latter part of January. I'll post the results from my hotwash here after that.

Happy Holidays to all!

Regards,

Glenn

mwbirren's picture

I listened to your podcast on understanding your customers today (interviewing them, subordinating yourself, and summarizing/bringing-it-back-to-your-team).
Though I've been managing my team for a while (2+ years), and our focus has stayed relatively the same (org changes moved us around a bit), we (ok me) did a poor job understanding what our customers really needed from us. So, with our latest org change, I've planned a 2-day ftf meeting with my team. The first day, I will have all my peers come in talk about their teams, and let us know how they feel we could collaborate and provide some benefit to them. BTW, I planned this before hearing your podcast. When I heard the part in your podcast that I should interview my customers, then summarize my interviews back to my team, I thought I had missed your point as I had invited our customers into my ftf so that my team could hear it for themselves. But when I heard the part about me not outlining the actions of what my team will do but instead let my team help figure that out, I think I got myself back on track as I had planned for us to discuss amongst ourselves what we heard (i.e. themes, etc.) and formulate an action plan.
A little different approach, but close to what you outlined in your podcast.

Lastly, I usually listen to your podcasts while bicycling (2-3 hours) and get a lot out of your content. Please keep it up.

Mark's picture

Sounds good to me! We don't recommend that only because logistics are often the excuse for not accomplishing the objective...but you cracked that. Well done.

It's a privilege to serve you.

Mark

poncho_57's picture

I've implemented these things quarterly.

Pretty easy to do.

I copied and pasted the email invite (shamelessly) from the site.

So far I've received strong positive feedback.

Imagine that, I ask for help to do my job better and my internal customers actually thank me.

Customer service is clearly a wellspring of potential, AKA competitive advantage, I've only begun to tap.

Thanks MT,
- poncho_57

Mark's picture

Good management isn't hard, or pretty, or dramatic... it's boring, and repetitive, and un-sexy.

And effective.

Well done.

Mark

kenlukas's picture

I've started implementing this and it has had a fantastic affect on those I've reached out to so far. After only a handful of meetings I can see the dramatic power of this activity. Thanks for passing it on.

Interestingly enough I've received negative criticism about a peer during each of my interviews. I am not sure how I should handle this situation. Do I: a) inform my boss directly b) tell the person I'm interviewing they should bring their issues to my bosses attention c)both or d) tell my peer directly and offer him feedback?

Thanks,

-Ken

regas14's picture

I'm interested to hear other opinions on this, but the position of taken on peer feedback is that I only give MY feedback on behaviors I witness and the results that I can see taking place. Whereas with a direct report, I might pass along feedback from another person regarding behaviors that I did not observe, I would not do that with peer feedback.

jbird's picture

[quote="kenlukas"]
criticism about a peer during each of my interviews. I am not sure how I should handle this situation.
[/quote]
There is a two-part podcast on this very topic: [url=http://www.manager-tools.com/2007/02/handling-peer-conflict-when-your-di... 5[/url] and - [url=http://www.manager-tools.com/2007/02/handling-peer-conflict-when-your-di... 11[/url]. These two posts were very timely for me as well.

I find it interesting that new topics seem to be posted exactly when I seem to need them... "boring and [u]repetitive[/u], but effective" :wink:

kenlukas's picture

Regas14 thanks, you made a good point about feedback on behavior I didn't witness.

jbird, thanks for your suggestions. These negative comments are not coming from a direct report, they are coming from customers my peer and I work with.

Narrowing down the choices, do I talk to my boss or ask the customer to talk with him or both? What are the other options?

regas14's picture

This just struck me, an internal customer has every bit as much opportunity to share feedback with your peer as you do (arguably they are in a better position).

Why not try evangelizing the MT Feedback model in conversations with your customers. When they make complaints about your peers, take the opportunity (perhaps outside of your 30 minute internal customer interview) to share with them the feedback model by saying,

"When I've observed behaviors that I believe to have detrimental effects, I have had success sharing that feedback with the individual in this way:

Behavior/Results

When I do that, being careful not to be confrontational or attack the individual but simply address the behavior and results, many times the person finds a way to behave differently in the future. I would encourage you to share your observations directly with this person in that way."

I would try to be conscious of the relationship that exists and whether the peer feedback model or the traditional feedback model is more appropriate. A customer, may have every right to ask "What can you do differently in the future?" or they may not. That could be a way to have the issue addressed in the most effective way and provide an entry point for you to infuse more of the MT way into your organization.

G.R.

Mark's picture

I wouldn't say anything to my boss or my peer.

I'd ask the customer to give the feedback directly to my peer. If they won't, it makes me question the validity of it.

Some of this is just their wish that your peer was doing what you were doing, and their interest in giving "some" feedback.

Keep mum.

Mark

GlennR's picture

In January, February, and March I implemented 2 rounds of interviews as the podcast suggested. I used the sample e-mail as a starting point, and as you can see by my original post on this topic, I was able to get my points on one ppt. slide.

(BTW, my CEO jokingly questioned whether I had enough responsibilities if I only had one slide.)

The interviews went well although nearly all of them averaged 40 minutes. The first round was with C-level staff, the second round with their directs. After the first round I told people I wanted a 45-minute appointment and was able to finish five minutes early.

Plus: The sample e-mail worked wonderfully, although I did have one C-level reply to it with answers.

Plus: The one slide was very effective and I have since used it elsewhere with good results.

Plus: This procedure opened up several doors for me and raised my visibility within the organization. This visibility is helping me be more effective.

The change I would make is to have fewer questions next time, perhaps only four. I will continue to ask for 45 minutes, not 30 due to the personalities involved and our corporate culture.

After each interview, I followed up with an e-mail and a handwritten note expressing my thanks.

Results were outstanding. I was able to advance my relationships with key decision makers across the organization.

Many of the second round took place via telephone. While my preference is in-person, telephone interviews were a successful alternative.

I'll do this on a regular basis. I strongly recommend this, the results were worth it, and then some.

Thanks Mark and Mike.

Regards,

Glenn

mwojtow's picture

Back in January of 2005 I took an opportunity to work in our organization's newly formed Product Development (PD) unit. The unit consists of myself and another individual who report directly to a Senior Manager whose responsibilities include other departments.

Shortly after we were up and running the boss had us meet with the head of each department (themselves Senior Managers) who are our internal customers. In retrospect the idea I believe was to "jump start" our internal customers.

However, the discussions were mixed in that some folks conveyed that they can do just fine without PD; others offered no feedback; and while some had and did share thoughts ultimately their feedback was largely disregarded.

Questions:
However, after listening to your podcast should it have been our boss who met with the respective Senior Manager Department Heads?

Is there ever any good in an exercise where you solicit feedback (from internal customers in this example) that for what ever reason is neither implemented nor acted upon?

Thanks,

Mark's picture

Yes and maybe.

Yes, it should have been your boss.

And maybe it will help...if customers appreciate the effort, and your boss gets hammered for ignoring customer input. My guess is that with the feedback you got, your boss is not in the best of situations.

Make sure you know others in the org. Be ready to look internally for other opportunities.

Mark