Bristol News


Better Than Yesterday – Bristol’s Pursuit of Performance Excellence

Companies today have many approaches available to them when they are determining the best path to take for continuous improvement and organizational effectiveness. Choices include:

29 September 2016

Quality Measurement and Improvement (e.g, Six Sigma)

  • Central focus is on measuring product quality and improving process
  • Focused on driving process efficiency and cost savings

Performance Standardization and Improvement (e.g., ISO 9001:2000 Registration)

  • Ensures product conformity and guarantees equity within marketplace for those companies who are registered
  • Concentrates on fixing non-conformities and reducing defect opportunities

Performance Excellence (e.g., Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence)

  • An integrated performance management approach based on continuous improvement leading to outstanding measureable results.
  • Identifies and tracks all-important organizational results: customer, product/service, financial, human resource, and organizational effectiveness, not just a system or a process.

Implementing an overall performance excellence approach truly ensures your entire organization is focused on the right behaviors holistically. The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence is a program that begins at the heart of all facets of an organization and builds out performance criteria that not only ensures performance excellence, but builds it into the culture of everything a company does.

We recently spoke with Bonnie Sposato, Vice President, Global Performance Excellence at Bristol, about the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence and Bristol’s performance excellence journey, and found that it’s more than a process or working toward an award, it’s a way of being.  We discussed the opportunities and the learning that Bristol has experienced since the journey began.

Bristol began it’s Performance Excellence journey based on the Baldrige Excellence Framework in early 2014.  Bristol’s quest began with the desire to become a role model organization within the mobility industry. Through our mission of Connect versus Control®, Bristol cultivates human to human relationships with our clients and their employees.  We focus on developing relationships and using feedback to continuously improve.

So many traditional “standard” approaches like ISO registrations, focus on delivering a product that is the same every time (i.e. are geared to a manufacturing environment) rather than delivering a highly customized, relationship centric experience as done in a service organization. As Bristol is growing its client base and its global footprint, it was apparent we needed, as Joe Cardini, President, would say “to install guardrails around the hairpin turns of the mountain we are climbing” as a guide to ensure excellence while providing flexibility. Bristol selected the Baldrige Excellence Framework because it is non-prescriptive and is relevant to any organization.   As we continue to grow, we need an integrated approach to overall organizational performance that allows us to deliver a customized approach to every client that can be delivered consistently.  The Baldrige Excellence Framework allows Bristol to deliver all services in a way that can be measured, managed and reported with flexibility ensuring performance excellence at every level.  The framework (i.e. the criteria) allows us to listen to our clients and determine our short and long term strategy. We utilize the criteria through the lens of our acute focus on the human-to-human connections guided by our vision, our mission, our valued behaviors and our core competencies.  We are free to select the right tools for the job meaning we use a variety six sigma tools for measurement, analysis, and improvement. We have a “toolbox” and have the flexibility to use the tool or tools that are best suited to help us continue to innovate and improve and put aside any that are not relevant to our specific effort.

The Baldrige Performance Excellence program focuses on continuous improvement from a systematic perspective using comparative and benchmarking data to assess progress toward a strategic goal.  The best way to ensure success is to have a holistic view of your entire organization centered on performance excellence and implement a program that is flexible, sustainable and focused on human-to-human relationships.

The Baldrige framework provides organizations with a robust way to evaluate themselves while learning and growing.  It is not a one-time assessment or audit; it is over 250 robust business questions focused on critical factors for managing and improving your business. By being involved in the Baldrige program, Bristol is in a position to learn from other role model organizations who are on the same journey.  We benefit from learning from past Baldrige recipients as those that received the highest Baldrige recognition share their experience, including what works and didn’t and the cycles of learning they experienced along the way.  For example, in speaking with a hospital who received Baldrige’s highest recognition for delivering excellent service in a highly emotional environment, we learned how they implemented programs to improve and easily report on results such as patient experience, operational efficiencies and workforce engagement.   Best of all, Baldrige is a community of sharing best practices and support is just a phone call away.

Some of the benefits that Bristol has seen since beginning its Baldrige journey are that the entire organization is marching in the same direction toward the same shared goals. All associates understand how they contribute to Bristol’s overall strategic objectives through their individual and departmental goals. These common goals are in line with the overall mission of Bristol…providing customized, individualized service for our clients.  With the design and implementation of Bristol’s behavioral interviewing anchored by our valued behaviors, we hire the best talent and ensure these associates are prepared to provide high-quality service while becoming thought and innovation leaders.

Just a few of our breakthrough improvements deployed to date as part of our performance excellence journey are:

  • Hospitality Desk: As part of a strategic improvement project focused on improving the customer experience; i.e. deliver and experience commensurate with the vision and mission, the hospitality desk was created. The hospitality desk has tremendously strengthened our relationship with our customers by putting a personal touch on the way we interact with them. The focus of this process is to allow the Mobility Advisor to deepen their connection to the transferee by delivering a personalized gift that meets a need or helps to overcome a challenge that the transferee expresses in a conversation. These “hospitality items” may be something to help reduce the stress on a child in the family having difficulty with the move, or a new baby gift, a card of condolence in the case of a family loss or even a cooking class if the new position is requiring the transferee to do more entertaining. When the transferee mentions something in conversation, it creates an “ah-ha” moment for the Mobility Advisor which presents an opportunity to personally connect.
  • Supplier Portal: Our supplier portal helps us be more efficient by having suppliers enter critical milestone dates into the system enabling the Mobility Advisors to stay informed on all details of the relocation so they in turn can provide updated information to the transferee. The portal is fully integrated within the BristolElite service platform and allows for seamless sharing of information which makes things effortless for our associates and our customers.
  • Obtaining Actionable Feedback: We are looking at client and transferee feedback differently than we had before. To Bristol, satisfaction is not simply a marketing number to report, it’s something we use to improve upon.  We read every comment on every survey and use them as fuel to identify opportunities to improve and continue the cycle of learning. We are making changes that help us make our clients’ jobs easier and deliver the best experience to our customers.

One of the biggest learning opportunities Bristol is realizing in working with the criteria is thinking like innovators and getting out of the mindset of simply satisfying our customers or “it’s always been done this way”. Through our Performance Excellence journey Bristol is creating a learning culture.  We are now thinking more like innovators focused on learning and growing and fully engaging our customers and workforce.  This was initially challenging because we could get so focused on serving our customers that we could forget to ask the question, can we do it better?  Every associate is engaged and challenged to make us better; better than we were yesterday, last month, last year.

A quote from a regional Baldrige recipient in central Texas sums it up quite nicely… “Yes, we are on a journey, a never-ending quest.  We will never arrive and will continue to look for what is around the corner and look forward to finding where we want to go next. We used to think that applying the criteria was the thing to do rather than a way to do things.  Now we know the journey isn’t extra work, it’s a way promote innovation, a method of engaging our workforce, and a system to manage change and stabilize our organization”

Like them, Bristol’s journey will never truly be over.  Only stages in the journey will end as each new stage begins.  The road to Performance Excellence will always grow and lead us down new and exciting paths. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.   We have begun the climb but will never think that we reached the top….because Bristol’s best is yet to come.


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