How Customers Can Rally Your Troops

How did a five-minute meeting motivate university fundraisers to increase their weekly productivity by 400%? How did a photograph drive radiologists to improve the accuracy of their diagnostic findings by 46%?

Was it managers who inspired such enormous results? Perhaps they gave an amazing speech or set clearer goals or tracked performance more carefully. In fact, in both situations, managers were not the catalysts. They did not assume that they alone had to bear the burden of motivating employees with inspiring messages. Instead, they tapped in to a powerful force that encouraged workers to go the extra mile. They outsourced inspiration to those who were better suited to the job.

A growing body of research shows that end users—customers, clients, patients, and others who benefit from a company’s products and services—are surprisingly effective in motivating people to work harder, smarter, and more productively.

A brief visit from a student who had received a scholarship motivated the fundraisers to increase their efforts. A photograph of a patient they had never met inspired the radiologists to read X-rays more accurately. By serving as tangible proof of the consequences and value of employees’ efforts, end users such as these can be important allies for leaders in motivating and inspiring their workforces.

Outsourcing inspiration to end users focuses employees’ attention squarely on the ultimate impact of their products and services.

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