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Posted: June 12, 2013

The all-important internal customer: Part 3

It's a two-way street

Timothy LaMacchio

(Editor's note: This is the last of three parts. Read Part 1 and Part 2.)

To build an effective two-way partnership with your internal customers, use these key points to guide your thinking and efforts:

1) The partnership with an internal customer has one purpose --- contribute to the business goals.
2) The success of your internal customer is dependent on you or your team. 
3) Your team has expertise the internal customer lacks.
4) Business goals and external customers are the “common thread” or shared purpose uniting you and the internal customer.

These guiding points set the context for a productive partnership with your internal customers.  

Here are specific actions managers and professionals can take to improve this working relationship:

o Know the external customer and organization’s business priorities.  They are the uniting purpose you share with your internal customers.
o Keep the collaborative work with your internal customer focused on achieving business goals and meeting the needs of the external customer.
o Understand how your internal customer determines their success.  Your role is to help them be successful.
o Define clear roles and responsibilities between your team and your internal customers.  Who does what and when?
o Routinely meet with your internal customer to identify problems and ways your team may be contributing to those problems.  Remember their effectiveness is dependent upon your effectiveness.

Since work in every business is completed by cross-functional teams working together, the relationship with your internal customers is one of the most important relationships in the organization. 

Once you establish a collaborative partnership with your internal customers, your team will fulfill it intended purpose: contributing to the business goals of the organization. 

Key points to remember:

1) It's all about having the entire organization work toward a shared purpose.
2) Know how your internal customer relies on you for their success.
3) Become a valued “supplier” to your internal customer.

Think about these questions:

Why is it difficult to have a clearly defined purpose in the relationship with your internal customer?

What advice do you have for others trying to improve their working relationship with their internal customers?

What actions have you taken that have failed to improve the partnership with your internal customer?

Timothy LaMacchio is the owner of www.GoToManagers.com. A Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, he works with organizations to connect everyday “desk-level” work to strategic business goals. Tim solves a problems root cause --- not just the symptoms.  His practical solutions develop people and the environment people need to perform. Tim's work is about providing new knowledge and skills and achieving business results. Contact Timothy at tel@GoToManagers.com or 303.917.5775

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