What is the climate of the professional relationship between your shop’s sales team and the production team? If you are a one-person shop you probably don’t have many conflicts between sales and production, but in many, many shops those relationships can stand some improvement. You might consider holding a performance review with your sales and production departments. You should remain neutral and act only as facilitator, sponsor and benefactor with a vested interest. The agenda of the meeting should consist of four continuous-improvement questions:
- Where are we now?
- Where do we want to be a year (a quarter, six months) from now?
- How are we going to get there?
- How will we measure progress along the way?
It’s your responsibility to establish some ground rules, set the precedent, encourage open-minded dialogue, and don’t allow the meeting to become a mere gripe-session.
- Let them know that you are empowering them to take ownership in the decisions they make.
- Encourage them to make decisions by consensus rather than by majority rule, horse-trading, compromise or concession.
- Promote the practice of occasionally working in another department for a day. Performing the daily tasks of another team member makes them appreciate the work being done.
- Allow on-the-road sales reps to make up to one phone call per day into a designated point of contact in production to ask questions or obtain key information.
- Likewise, give the lead production person the name and phone number for the contact at the customer in case there are questions with the order or unexpected problems.