This month’s Harvard Business Review has a really interesting article about using customers to motivate your workforce. If you are a regular of my blogs here, you will know I am a big fan of HBR and the latest edition, focused on innovation, is brilliant!
In the article entitled ‘How customers can rally your troops’ by Andrew Grant, it suggests that by actually getting end users to talk to your employees will improve productivity. It does sound a bit too good to be true, but there is supporting evidence. For example, university fundraisers who met a student who had received a scholarship as a result of their efforts increased their productivity by 400% after the meeting! There are many other examples, one included how Facebook sets up meetings where engineers can meet site users who have reconnected with old friends and lost family members.
The premise behind using end users is that when leaders are the only source of inspiring stories employees often question the genuineness of the message, whereas when they can physically see or interact with an end user the story becomes real.
There is a huge amount of evidence to suggest that people don’t want to just be paid to do a job, but they want to be engaged, they want to do meaningful work. According to Grant, in surveys conducted in America over the last 30 years, the majority of respondents stated meaningful work as the key factor they looked for in a job.
So, if we really want employees to go that extra mile, to pull out all of the stops, we need to show them what they are working for – the end user. Show them the stories that are out there, that what they do makes a difference. This could really impact motivation levels in an organisation and help to galvanise the workforce to work harder and better, all for the customers that they serve.
Grant, A. How customers can rally your troops. Harvard Business Review, June 2011 pp.96-103