In a previous article I provided a Guide for Coaching on the Spot (see page 16 of the June issue). In turn, many readers have reached out asking for another straightforward apparatus that can be used for gathering and relaying feedback. While many tools come to mind, I have chosen an old, yet effective one.
The Start, Stop and Continue model (SSC) serves as a quick and clean way to look at service improvement. It can also be used as a technique to generate ideas, solve problems, and negotiate behavior changes between two groups, individuals, or departments.
By implementing this three-step process, we can look at a service and consider each of the following actions: start doing something new, stop or alter an element, and continue what is working well. All of this must be in the context of a robust response from customers – not on the whim of a change team or the organization’s management. The SSC is all about asking questions and finding answers.
Things you want to put in place to improve the situation and achieve your goals:
• What can you start doing to achieve your goals?
• What new activities, attitudes, or behaviors can you initiate to move in the right direction?
• What do you want to bring forth in yourself in this new chapter?
• What can you start doing right now that will make a difference?
Example of this phase: A manager from the local steakhouse organizes a staff meeting. His goal is to improve the experience of his restaurant for both the patrons and employees. Each member of the staff goes around offering their input. One suggestion was to start offering dinner rolls to appease customers during their wait time.
Things that are getting in the way:
• What do you need to stop doing right now to move toward your goals?
• What are you doing that has nothing to do with your goals, or is working against your goals?
• How are you getting in your own way? What is not serving your interests?
• What negative things have you been tolerating (e.g. other people’s behaviors, your own behaviors, low standards)? How can you stop tolerating those things as you move forward?
Example of this phase: A prep cook points out how certain individuals consistently arrive late. Typically, the behavior was excused due to the tardiness happening during the lull. To prevent this from getting worse, the manager reinforces the importance of punctuality.
Things that are working that you should keep doing:
• What do you want to continue that will help you to achieve your goals?
• What has been working well up until now? How can you continue doing those things?
• What are you currently doing that is consistent and aligned with the stated goals?
Example of this phase: Some of the hostesses have heard customers praise the staff for their excellent service. Waitresses are attentive and friendly while the chefs cook quality food in a timely manner. This cordial behavior will be continued.
Let’s narrow it and create an in-the-field exercise you can use with your team. Ask your teammates the following SSC questions:
*What do I/you/we need to START doing to improve our overall performance as a team?
*What do I/you/we need to STOP doing that creates barriers to getting our job done?
*What do I/you/we need to CONTINUE to do? What do you count on me to deliver to the team that I must continue doing?
Give it a try – no formal meeting or prep is needed. Simply ask your team these three questions and watch the performance opportunities present themselves.