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Get personal: attention improves performance

In the early days of industrial revolution scientists conducted many tests to better understand what impacts productivity. A well known experiment was to differentiate the level of illumination in otherwise comparable factory halls. Before and afterwards the productivity was measured. To the surprise of the researchers both an increase and decrease in lighting level improved productivity. Later research suggested that doing the research had a higher impact than minor changes in lighting conditions. Paying attention improved productivity.

Outsourcing engagement are very similar in that sense. Within the often quite extensive number of activities and services, paying attention to a specific service can cause improvement. If for instance the number of defects in the monthly release of an application is relatively high, a client can ask his supplier to report on the details and find out about underlying causes. Apart from providing insight, the additional attention on this part of the process often has a positive impact itself. Other examples show a similar trend. Research in the field of Psychology indicates people perform better in any task when the results receive genuine attention. Especially repetitive tasks benefit from explicit recognition and reward.

What’s in it for you

From the above result we can draw all kinds of conclusions on how to optimize reporting processes and governance. Ensure you pay attention to the right topics. Discuss all reporting properly and in doing so give attention to what people do. That is certainly not the whole story although it will probably provide added value. It doesn’t address the fact that the services business is a people’s business. And people thrive on recognition and appreciation. For that reason I would encourage you to get personal with your service provider. If you have a successful interaction, be explicit in your compliments. If the next release has significant less defects, make sure that you write a message to your service manager and ask him/her to pass it on.

You would be surprised to learn how compliments from an end-user get a prominent place on the wall of the service desk. And I have seen offshore teams glow with pride when appreciation from the CIO cascades down through the hierarchy to everyone involved in a result. Therefore: get personal, be complimentary and explicit with praise. Happy and proud staff will perform better, so apart from lighting up someone’s day, your service will improve as well!