Heavyweight Bout – Sales v. Production!

Ellen Rohr
Contributing Writer
Bare Bones Biz

Does your business involve one person selling the job and others installing the job, or doing the production of the product?  Fair enough.  It is a functional, typical approach that can result in the right people doing the right things for your customers.  It also results in a natural dynamic between the Production Team and the Sales Team.  That dynamic can be powerful and positive.  Or, it can drive you nuts with constant infighting.

As the owner, you may find yourself trying to keep the peace between feuding team members.  Are you frustrated by, “I can’t believe I have to clean up his job again,” complaints?   Let’s explore how to convert the inevitable conflicts from blame to cooperation.

1.“Dad likes you best.”

Consider your own background and experiences.  If you came up the ranks as a Salesperson, you may be prejudiced towards your Sales team.  And vice versa, if you cut your career teeth on the Production crew.   Meet with your Managers to verbalize and understand the dynamics between the departments.

2. Clean-up the Organizational Chart

Work with your Managers to update the Org Chart.  Update the Position Descriptions and create a short, bulleted list of responsibilities for each Position.  Then, “roll out” the information so that every team member understands the structure of the company and their complimentary roles.

3. Hold a Weekly “Get it Done” Meeting

Every Friday, get together with the Sales Manager, Production Manager, Salespeople, and the Install/Production Team for a one hour meeting.   Establish a safe, blame-free zone in which you can brag on a job well done and fess up about dropping the ball.  Discuss…

• Jobs being bid.  This gives the team a sense of the action coming up.  On big, complicated or “weird” jobs, have  the Salespeople get input from the those who will be making good on the promises the Salespeople make before the bid is submitted.

• Jobs in process.  What can we do to eliminate extra trips?  Any ideas for bringing a troublesome job in on time?  Are any change orders needed?  Any surprises, good or bad, that we should know about?

• Jobs completed.  Do a post mortem on the losing jobs.  Share thoughts about what you can do to prevent a similar job from going south in the future.  Celebrate wins for bringing the job in at or below bid.

• Keep the energy high and focus on results.

>If someone has done something that requires a reprimand or a write up, address that person in private.

> If the systems are setting you up to fail, be willing to update the systems.

>Your team will follow your lead.  Don’t bully or blame or lay on the sarcasm.  Seek to understand.   Find common ground.  Diffuse a tense moment with, “We can agree we want jobs to come in on time, on budget and done right.  We can agree we want happy customers and a good company reputation.  Let’s work together to make that happen.”

• Plan Production jobs scheduled for the upcoming week.  Share real numbers for Labor Hours and Materials Costs bid.

•  And “time out” anyone who wants to engage you with undermining after-the-meeting chatter.  Bring up beefs in the meeting or privately with all appropriate parties.

4. “This, Too, and They, too, Shall Pass”

Situations – and people – move in and out of our lives.  This moment, this job, this problem …it is all so temporary.  Don’t take it so seriously.  Lighten up and help your team understand that it is a game.  A wonderful, honorable game.

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