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Improve the results of your next performance review by 17.3%

December 23, 2014

Researchers at Harvard Business School have shown that transparency produces value. Put another way, seeing your customer clearly results in better service. Customers are not only happier when they can see the people performing the service for them (a 17.3% increase in satisfaction actually) but the people who are performing the work also feel more valued. The increase in satisfaction comes in part because the customer has an increased understanding of the effort involved in producing the work – so much so that in follow on studies customers coming to collect their orders rated the service higher if they had to wait and watch their order being filled than if they simply collected the completed order and left without waiting.

That’s right. They had to wait but they were happier with the service. And the people performing the work were more satisfied and sought more opportunities to improve.

Think about the implications of that in your workplace. How many people in your workplace have clearly defined customers for their work? What sort of contact do you have with the people who provide you with what you need to get your job done?

They seem like questions that should be easy to answer, after all everyone knows who they are doing their work for right? Wrong.

I had a conversation with a business analyst who was busy collecting business requirements for an IT project. He was doing a great job talking with people across the business but when I asked him how he knew when he would be finished all I got was silence. We had just identified there was no customer for his work. Aside from the obvious concerns from a project management point of view, think about his level of motivation coming to work each day and never ever seeing a customer. What motivation was there for him to do better?

There are two simple steps you can take if you want to avoid being that person or having people like that in your organisation. The are the same steps you can take to improve your customer’s satisfaction with your work.

Do you have a list of tasks or to-do list? Is there another list – a list of all the things you need before you can do those other things? At the top of your to-do list cross out “To do” and write “Services I am providing” and then beside each item write down the name of your customer. On the top of the other list write “Things I am a customer for” and beside each of those items write down the name of the person who you think is providing that service.

Then go and create transparency and value by having a conversation with the people on your lists about what they are expecting and what you are expecting and how delivery is progressing.

I guarantee you that your level of service will improve and their level of satisfaction with your work will also improve (maybe not by exactly 17.3% – actual results may vary!). I also think it is a pretty safe bet that at least one of the people you think is providing something you have on your “Things I am a customer for” list doesn’t share your view. You don’t need a Harvard Business School study to tell you that you will not be a happy customer if you are left waiting for service that never comes. And that is not good for anybody’s performance review!

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