There has been a lot of excitement in the country during the past couple of weeks. The summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the presidential campaign have provided entertainment for a major portion of the population whether they are sports fans or political junkies. But both events have been marred by accusations of, or clear acts of dishonesty. The most disturbing Olympic happening did not involve outright cheating or doping, but fabricated stories from four immature U.S. swimmers about being robbed at gunpoint by Rio police. Under pressure the leader of the pack has (sort of) apologized for “not being more careful and candid in how I described the events of that early morning”. I would have had more respect for him if he had simply said, “I was so drunk I don’t remember what happened.” Bottom line, he, along with Curly, Moe, and Larry have embarrassed the country, their sport, and themselves.
You cannot look toward the current election campaign for much guidance, however. In a recent poll, less than one third of the respondents viewed one of the candidates as “honest and trustworthy”. The other choice is breathing new life into the fact checker profession that is being kept busy checking candidates’ statements and awarding Pinocchios where appropriate – which is often. (Award of the Pinocchio symbol is a little more politically correct than proclaiming, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”) Some of this would be amusing if it weren’t so disturbing. An increasing number of us seem to be ignoring or misreading our moral compasses. Ironically, some who profess a keen sense of integrity in their personal lives are often unwilling or unable to apply that same code of conduct to a business situation.
While honesty and candor should be concerns throughout the supply chain, they are particularly important in outsourcing logistics services. Here, where our success depends so much on our partners’ performance and behavior, good, honest communications are critical. Yet, too often, our communications become less “careful and candid” as the swimmers would say. The outsourcing firm’s relationship manager must be sure that the relationship is constructed so that two-way, open, honest and prompt communications are encouraged, expected, and accepted. The same is true for LSP management. Some issues can be very difficult, but whether they are client or provider provoked, resolution will become easier if the following simple rules are adhered to.
1. Remember – These are business, not personal issues.
2. Approach all problems openly with the responsible party. Do not operate with a hidden agenda.
3. Treat the other party as you would like to be treated if the roles were reversed.
4. Do not become emotional.
5. Do your homework. Make sure you have all the facts before confronting.
6. Do not act impulsively.
7. Do not exaggerate or embellish. While the addition of a few inaccurate details can make a problem even more entertaining or embarrassing to someone, this only complicates the resolution and certainly does little to cement a relationship.
8. As part of the solution, develop a plan for preventing a recurrence.
9. Don’t hide the problem. Share it and its method of resolution with others. This will enhance everyone’s understanding.
Maintaining a good relationship is not always easy, but if it is approached and conducted in an honest, straightforward manner, the odds of success increase dramatically.