Thursday, April 17, 2008

Do This Before Rolling Out Your Next Internal Program

Much is written about marketing your business and/or programs. Rightfully so, you know ineffective or absent marketing strategies can cripple your organization; your products or services are in jeopardy of becoming an afterthought in the minds of your customers. You budget and plan for marketing to let the public know of your products or services and their benefits to them, which means increases the odds of customers buying into your product offerings. What if leadership followed a similar practice in delivering internal company programs?

Think about the last program you rolled out to your team. Did you spend time doing some research (talking to your internal customer) and developing marketing strategies? Or did you just push it out and hoped they would buy into what you were offering?

Earlier in my career, I worked a Quality Engineer. I was surprised at the lack of preparation that went into some department head's process improvement programs. The best practice was to consult with stakeholders to ensure success of the programs. But some heads didn't feel the need to talk with each of the internal customer groups -- they would exclude the operators doing the job. Yes, they would ignore the feedback of the people the change would impact.

It's my opinion that internal customers are similar to external customers. They both are willing to "buy" what your offering if they can see the benefits. For example, if you have to make some "hard" changes within your organization, I believe team members will be more supportive. This is not saying everyone will like it or buy off on the changes, but it does help if you have practiced upfront communication.

Before you roll out your next program to your internal customers, think about the steps you would take to roll out such a program to your external customer. The steps may differ, but the enthusiasm and vigor should be similar.

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