Creating Customer Focused Teams, Part 3

Developmental Stage Movement

In time, Stage 1 teams arrive at Stage 2. Stage 2 teams will either get stuck in Stage 2 or move on to Stage 3. Stage 3 teams can slip back into Stage 2 or move on to Stage 4. Progress or slippage depends on whether the team builds on its momentum or rests on its laurels. In Stage 4, the team can move on through consistent improvement or slip back by becoming arrogant and overconfident. Keep in mind that none of these stages are good or bad. They are necessary stepping-stones in the process that leads to high performance.

[wcm_restrict]In the process of development, teams most often get stuck in Stage 2. In order to move to Stage 3, the team must hammer out the performance standards and commitment to achieving them. Also, team goals must become more important than personal agendas, which need to be congruent and in alignment with the group agenda. In Stage 3, the group starts to take on a life of its own and begins to aggressively move in the direction of its performance standards.

Stage 4 is where teams come into their own and truly create customer loyalty. If the team becomes relentless in providing superior products and anticipating the changing needs of the customer, it becomes possible to become indispensable to your customers. Equally important to customer focus is internal responsiveness for employees and shareholders who directly benefit from high performance with increased earnings. This is the win/win/win stage of development.

Stage 5 is a bit tricky because it can occur at any phase of development and can be triggered by any change that significantly alters the team. Examples include gaining or losing a member, altering the performance standards or receiving a new coach. Similarly, a major change in the internal or external environment will impact the team’s progress. Examples of this type of change include new products or services, new customers or a change in rules and regulations.

Points to Remember

Customer-focused teams and victims (people who refuse responsibility and accountability for their behavior) don’t go together. Members have to want to make the team successful. You cannot create a team with a group of victims.

Enemies and customer-focused teams do not go together. Team members must have a basic regard for each other. They do not have to love each other, but at minimum they should have mutual professional respect.

Expect conflict. Because performance standards are high, team members will have differing points of view for how to achieve performance standards. Open dialogue and discussion are useful to moving things forward. Remember that it does not matter who is right, but that the customer is served in an extraordinary fashion.

Finally, do not be afraid to experiment. Customer service strategies need to be planned, but it helps to be flexible and try new ideas that will make your organization indispensable to the people it serves.

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About the Author

Since growing up in his family’s boating business to founding his company CMI, Bruce Hodes has dedicated himself to helping companies grow by developing executive leadership teams, business leaders and executives into powerful performers. Bruce’s adaptable Breakthrough Strategic Business Planning methodology has been specifically designed for small-to-mid-sized companies and is especially valuable for family company challenges. In February of 2012 Bruce published his first book Front Line Heroes: Battling the business Tsunami by developing high performance organizations (Volume 1). With a background in psychotherapy, Hodes also has an MBA from Northwestern University and a Masters in Clinical Social Work. More info: [email protected] or

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