Dispatch Foundation

Team

InTheMiddleMediumDispatch is the ability to work with people you don’t control to deliver products you probably don’t understand to people you’ve most likely never met. Dispatch, at it’s core, is about people. The dispatch foundation is made of people. Considering this, people skills are essential for an effective dispatcher.

Defining Dispatch

Dispatch is actually complex logistics. The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals defines logistics as:

The process of planning, implementing, and controlling procedures for the efficient and effective transportation and storage of goods including services, and related information from the point of origin to the point of consumption for the purpose of conforming to customer requirements. This definition includes inbound, outbound, internal, and external movements. Page 117 of the CSCMP Glossary of Terms
Logistics efforts can be categorized into eight areas: procurement, production, distribution, disposal, reverse (dealing with returns), green, global, and domestic. Large dispatch offices may have to deal with all of these areas. Even small dispatch offices manage procurement, distribution and disposal.  The areas of logistics drive the disciplines needed by a dispatch office.

Dispatch Disciplines

The disciplines are summarized in the tables below.  The first table sets the structure and is followed by a table for each discipline I consider to be part of the dispatch foundation.  The only area that may not be self explanatory is the Temperament (DISC) notation.  If you are familiar with this please skip the following note and move on to the tables below.

TEMPERAMENT (DISC)

TEMPERAMENT (DISC)
The four-letter temperament code is based on the four temperaments theory of perception and decision making.  In the last fifty years, Myers-Briggs has dominated this field.  I don’t have an affiliation with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator system, or any system for that matter, but I have found value in understanding the MBTI codes and applying them to hiring practices.  I’ve also added a DISC code.

DISC is a behavioral style assessment tool.  I’ve found it to be a useful tool in place of or in addition to MBTI. Each discipline has at least one temperament code followed by a similar DISC code in parenthesis.  If I’ve listed two DISC codes in parenthesis, the first is the primary trait and should rate much higher than the second letter.  For example, Order Entry has a Temperament (DISC) of ENFP (I, S).  A candidate for this position should rate as an ENFP and/or a DISC (I, S).  The DISC I trait should receive a higher ranking than the DISC S.  My general rule of thumb is a 60-80% I with a 20-40% S.

If you are still reading this you’ve most likely aren’t using these tools.  Find a consultant to administer a test on your current staff and contract with the consultant to have the testing added to your pre-screening hiring process.

I don’t have any recommendations for temperament testing.  However, for DISC testing I’ve used Brent Strehlow for about 15-years.  My staff has always enjoyed working with him.  I have, too.  I don’t receive anything from him for recommending him.  In fact, I haven’t even told him that I’m recommending his company here.  For what it’s worth, he has been a guest at NRMCA events.  That’s how I found him.

The dispatch foundation positions below are from the 50,000 foot perspective.  Adjust them to meet your needs.

Title Temperament (DISC)
Description
Skills
Logistics Area(s)
Order Entry ENFP (I, S)
Answers incoming calls, emails and texts. Steps customers through order process.  Handles order change requests.  Needs to be familiar with customer names, jobs, products, and geography.  May schedule the job or work with a scheduler for assistance.
Good listener, speaks with diplomacy, enjoys lots of short interactions with a wide range of people
Distribution
Customer Service ENFJ (D, S), ISFJ (S, C)
Makes outbound calls to work with customers to resolve problems.  Differs from Order Entry in that a customer service representative may adjust an order but does not handle new orders.  A CSR spends more time on the phone with the customers allowing OE staff to continue handling the unpredictable influx of inbound information.
Ability to persuade, enjoys solving problems, is tenacious
Distribution, Disposal, Reverse
Scheduling ESTJ (D, C), INTJ (C, D)
Constantly monitors the scheduling graph or board.  Toggles between current and future days.  May focus on a subset of plants.  May also focus on a specific day if the office is large.  For current day, must stay in tune with the current round, pour rates, trip times, plant throughput, and the next round.
Analytical, focused, strategic thinking
Procurement, Production, Distribution
Shipping ESTP (D, I), INTP (S, D)
Lives in the now.  Must be highly focused on the current round and always making contingency plans for the next round.  Like the Scheduler, must understand pour rates, trip times, and plant throughput.
Flexible, decisive, calm
Production, Distribution, Disposal, Reverse
Logistics ENTJ (D), ISTJ ( C ), ENTP (I, D)
This rare find is the five-tool player of the dispatch world.  I’ve run into two of them in my career.  The Logistics person is the best at all positions in dispatch and fully understands the business.  This person is bound for senior management if he doesn’t burn out.  Enjoy him while he lasts.  You’ll have him about 3-years before he moves upward or onward.
Five-tool.  He has all the skills.
All
Manager ENTJ (D)
Coordinates employee schedules to meet market needs.  Works with all departments.  May work directly with customers on pre-pour meetings.  Shields staff from internal politics and external distractions.
Decisive, excellent facilitator, quick to delegate, natural team builder
All

Realistic Picture

When I hired dispatchers I always tried to paint a grim picture of what was going on. It seemed impossible to illustrate the complexity and stress of a dispatch office.  Every person I hired couldn’t believe how difficult it was to learn the complexity of dispatching ready mix. What helped me build a lasting team was my exposure to the DISC system.  It clicked with me and became my managerial foundation.  In the next post I’ll explore some of the successes and failures I experienced as I built a team and learned how to manage people.  I’m still learning…but I’ll share what I’ve learned so far.

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