(#232) Silos to Bridges

What is your organization doing to break down silos and build bridges?
How do you educate, entice, and excite your organization to see the big picture?

As I write this week’s post, I’m sitting in the Honda dealership waiting as my car gets its 25,000 mile servicing. Since I’ve owned my car I have had continually great service at this particular location. Today, as on past visits, Allison, is my guide for the process. No matter how crazy the atmosphere may be, she is the calm in the storm.  And today, even though the clock is just bumping 7:00 a.m., phones light up on every desk, cars are lining up and the dealership team works effectively together. Allison even takes time to make sure an additional container of coffee is placed in the customer waiting lounge.

Her team members answer phones for one another, take messages, and greet arriving customers.  Not once did I hear, “Sorry, Eric, that’s not my job.”  No one was sipping coffee while co-workers were in overdrive.  Everyone pitched in.  On one earlier visit, the person I spoke with in the service area about my Bluetooth connection could not find a solution.  He said, “Can you wait a moment. One of the sales staff can fix this. He knows more than I do about it.”  Problem efficiently and effectively solved because a service agent had knowledge of what his colleague in another department could do.

Customer service is not just Allison’s job. It’s everyone’s job.  That is so obvious to almost be cliché—but what is common sense is not always common practice.

Photo: Steve Piscitelli

Photo: Steve Piscitelli

Businesses often repeat mantras like “customer service is everyone’s job” or “everyone is in sales.”  In higher education, we hear that “retention is everyone’s job.”  Unfortunately, many times what sounds enticing in a mission statement is little more than meaningless blather as actions fail to match words.  Either it’s just talk or since it’s “everyone’s” job, no one takes the lead.

What is your organization doing to break down silos and build bridges? How do you educate, entice, and excite your organization to see the big picture?

Like higher education institutions across this nation, Florida State College at Jacksonville has more resources available to our students than they will probably ever see again in one location in their lives.  The challenge for them is to find and use the resources.  One of my jobs as a faculty member is to connect students with resources. For me and my colleagues to do that we have to also be aware of what exists at our college.  Again, obvious.

Too often, faculty can get caught up in the short-sided view that their job is to teach content while the counselors and advisors can take care of the rest. They have their silo and we have our silo. Unfortunately, those we serve—our students—get lost with that sort of thinking and action.

Photo: Steve Piscitelli

Photo: Steve Piscitelli

This semester our campus kicked off a bridge-building initiative.  We labeled it Classroom Challenges Recognition (CCR).  The short-story: Our student services counselors present a workshop to faculty featuring 3 or 4 actual classroom scenarios of student challenges—potential and real crises. The faculty discuss how they have responded in such situations—or would respond if confronted.  The counselors then guide us with suggestions and strategies.  The conversation has been lively and informative. The education timely. And the bridges continue to be forged.  Although faculty are not required to attend, we have excellent turnout. Tomorrow (November 3) we will conduct our third such program this semester.  The faculty keep suggesting new scenarios to address.

More encouraging: In addition to liberal arts faculty, we are collaborating with our workforce faculty.  After all, we are one campus serving our student population.

In higher education, as in all other business operations, the “it’s-not-my-job-mentality” shortchanges those we serve. Whether you call your population students, customers, clients, associates, or patients the bottom line is that you/we have promised to provide a service. If you want to keep your organization going, you better provide excellent service.  Integrity demands it. Good business requires it. And those we serve deserve it.

We can all learn from Allison.

Video recommendation for the week:

Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.

Check out my website (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

Information on my newest book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.

(c) 2014. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

 

 

About stevepiscitelli

Facilitator-Author-Teacher
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