HBR essay

Introduction

“How customers can rally your troops” is among Dr. Adam Grant’s motivational writing which was published in the Harvard Business Review in June 2012. Adam Grant is a tenured professor at Wharton University, an award winning educator and a researcher (Adam Grant). In his paper, Grant has identified customers/end users as significant contributors to motivation, performance improvement and productivity. The assumption that employees are inspired and motivated to increase performance through self-centered factors such as incentive payments, promotions or other tangible incentives is inherently challenged. Employee inspiration through customer/end user feedback on the impacts they have on their lives as a result of their work is significantly effective in motivating employees not only to increase performance but to tailor their jobs with consumer satisfaction in mind.

Body

Employee motivation is critical to any organization as such techniques of preventing employee burnout, and subsequent low morale and performance is essential. Grant offers a logical view that managers through leadership based motivational aspects may have intentions which employees may perceive to be suspect, as such; leadership approaches to motivation may not have the desired impact. However, motivation should be premised on the end user needs and satisfaction. As such, Grant disputes employee motivation fallacies arguing that employees are self-centered, and performance is only influenced by performance based motivation (Grant, 2011). The argument that employees such as call center operators impact the end user’s life presents an emotional appeal to the employee to improve performance.

While a significant number of motivation theories and activities have taken a keen interest on the wellbeing of the employee through the development of various motivational strategies such as incentive and positional motivational strategies, Grant proposes an investment in end users through statistical evidence of his research as effective inspiration strategies. The evidence to the effectiveness of this strategy is demonstrated through his research where fundraisers were visited by a student whose scholarship resulted from their combined efforts. Grant through this example demonstrates that employee average time commitment on calls to potential donors increased by 142% while resulting funds averaged 172 % (Grant, 2011).

Significantly, while the customers and end users are critical to employee inspiration, managers must ensure that such motivation is not periodic; therefore, employee and motivation should be a continuous process. This ensures that inconsistencies and variances in motivation, performance and productivity are eliminated. Grant offers his expert opinion that employee inspiration should remain consistent through the process of maintaining motivation. Statistically, Grant presents employee performance as a factor of their impact on customers and end users. Therefore, the presentation with the evidence of their work and the impacts their work has on the end users is critical in the maintenance of motivation. This assertion presents a relevant argument since employees should be constantly motivated to prevent burnouts and boredom in the workplace.

A burned out employee presents low performance and poor productivity results irrespective of incentives and motivation strategies. Grant presents relevant arguments asserting the need for keeping employees inspired and invested in their work. He is of the opinion that the end user or customer has an ability to influence an employee through making him/her feel appreciated hence inspiring an employee to put more effort and invest their energy in increasing output and perfecting their jobs.

Grant presents human emotions as invaluable assets when applied to influence an employee; thus, his work presents an alternative approach to traditional motivational approaches which presented employee motivation as a factor of employee self-actualization. Therefore, Grant presents a factual and logical argument that the impact of an individual’s work on another person’s life has the potential to inspire a person to improve performance. End user testimonies and stories describing how an employee has influenced their lives are not only motivating but also provide the employee with a sense of purpose through improving other people’s lives (Grant, 2011). Grant challenges managers to ensure that, while end users provide inspiration through their experiences, the employee should interact with end users or customers in order to understand and appreciate consumer needs thus improving their ability and knowledge in offering consumer services.

 Understanding and appreciating consumer needs not only enables an employee to offer value added service to the consumer, but it also enables an employee to identify with the consumer. Hence, an employee can anticipate and tailor consumer needs accordingly. Grant has expertly tailored empathy as a logical appeal through employee-consumer interactions as a means of maintaining motivation through employee identification with the needs and requirements of consumers. In light of this, he advocates for inspirational leadership instead of traditional management styles which focus on the organization and the employee while neglecting the potential impacts of end users on improving employee morale.

While Grant’s assertions have evidentiary basis given the conclusions of his various research on the subject, the identification of consumers as critical sources of inspiration for employees would be flawed and have minimal impact without the provision of  criteria for sourcing such inspiring customers or end users. However, given Grant’s expertise and experience in the subject, he has not only identified consumer inspiration as an invaluable tool to employee motivation but has also defined the basis of maintaining employee motivation  and developed strategies for sourcing inspiration on a continuous basis (Grant, 2011). Though managers are often identified as responsible for developing employee motivation strategies, Grant offers a solution that incorporates managers, group leaders and employees on the various levels of the organization as potential instruments in the identification of various sources of inspiration such as customers, clients, patients, suppliers and various end users of consumer services.

The suggested strategies for outsourcing inspiration are premised on relevant, factual and readily available data on the past, present and expected future consumers. These illustrate the significance of an organization’s employee’s historical impacts on consumers and their potential for inspiring current and future employees. Grant presents a logical implementation of employee-consumer based inspiration, which is premised on ethical and logical appeals towards the employee’s need for value adding tasks. This not only impacts the organization’s revenues but is evidenced through the improvement of consumers’ lives.

Furthermore, Grant’s view that an employee should not only derive inspiration through consumer’s verbal or written narratives but should assume the role of end users demonstrates his expertise in human response and identification with experiences similar to their own. More importantly, he advocates the incorporation of low end employees to mainstream organizational activities which not only make such employees feel that they matter but also motivates them to improve performance. Meanwhile, performance appraisal is conducted on the basis of inclusive criteria where employees participate in choosing best performing employee. This aspect is critical to reinforcing employee cohesion and competitiveness.

Conclusion

Employee inspiration through customer/end user feedback on the impacts on their lives as a result of their work is significantly effective in motivating employees not only to increase performance but to tailor their jobs with consumer satisfaction in mind. Grant’s expert opinions illustrate strategic methods of inspiring employees to improve performance and the significance of developing healthy employee-consumer relationships’. Grant presents a researched position through statistical evidence asserting the significance of consumers in inspiring and motivating employees. He presents a relevant and accurate argument that outsourcing inspiration not only impacts employee motivation, but it also has long term impacts on employee performance and productivity.

HBR essay

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