Traditional business benchmarking is a high-level activity with careful target selection, substantial pre-visit planning, and a rigorous process of post-visit evaluation and implementation. You can do this, too. But don’t let a thorough and detailed approach stop you from encouraging a much simpler version of benchmarking. Remember, one of the goals is for everyone to become curious about learning and improving.
Each phone call can be a benchmarking moment. Did the person you were speaking with make you feel appreciated, welcome, confident, or understood? What did he or she say? How did he or she do that? Can you use that in your next call? Each incoming email is one to evaluate and emulate if it moves you to positive action. Each meeting is a possible benchmarking moment, another opportunity to appreciate, adapt, and apply.
An easy way to start benchmarking is to have people inside your organization learn from visiting each other. Is your customer service team known for its friendliness and flexibility? Ask the finance team to make a benchmarking visit. Are your finance team members respected for their accuracy and speed? Ask the delivery team to make a benchmarking visit. Is any one branch, factory, or outlet admired by everyone else? Ask that group to extend an invitation and welcome frequent visits from its peers.
When you organize a visit to an outside organization, include people from different levels in your organization. Those who work on the front line may not understand certain details those in higher positions do, but they will see things from a different perspective, often with insights of equal value.