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How performance programs can hurt your business

The point of a performance program is usually to reward positive results and increase customer satisfaction. Michele examines what causes programs to miss the mark and explains how you can avoid these common mistakes.

I have a confession; I love Swiss Chalet. So much so that there is a fairly regular weekly delivery to my house. Or at least there used to be. I'm trying to break up with French fries…but I digress. When I’m starving, and the lovely lady says 45 minutes or it's free my heart used to do a little dance. I'm hungry; they want me to be happy so they guarantee it. Sounds like a good start to a lasting relationship…Until it takes too long for the chicken to cross the road and the door bell rings some 20 minutes past the guaranteed delivery time. Hangry (hungry + angry) turns into a sliver of happy when I remember it's FREE!!! Until I speak with the rain-soaked, older gentleman only to understand that he is late because of the storm and construction. Sweet, apologetic and…late. And I learn that he will pay for my dinner, not the company. The minimum wage-earning, hard-working, not-in-his-field-of-expertise driver will have to fork over $40 because that's how the company enforces its guarantee. Ummmmm, no.

Or have you ever leased a car, and the sales person implores you to give them a perfect rating otherwise they won’t get their bonus? Not a 4/5 or a 4.5/5; they NEED a 5! I'm not being asked for my perspective or my opinion, rather harangued to label them perfect. Perfection? Really? I aim for spectacular, but perfect? Who are we kidding? Well, it would appear we are kidding whoever is responsible for compiling those results! This has happened to me multiple times at BMW and Audi dealerships.

Now the question must be asked: what is the point of these performance programs? To enhance the client experience? To understand the various points of interaction that impact a spectacular experience? To understand and define what an awesome client experience looks and feels like? Or to pad the wallets of the employees?

These companies are not bad, just misguided. The programs that human resources works so hard to develop and implement in order to enhance the client experience and provide helpful information can actually end up damaging the relationship and creating falsehoods. Insert shocked emoji face!

Performance Programs should:

1. Inspire clarity of purpose - what are your service benchmarks? What is above and beyond service? How does your service experience differentiate you from your competition? If your performance program doesn’t make the answers to these questions abundantly clear to your employees, it may be time to reassess the program.

2. Inspire performance, not fear based results - a properly developed program has employees - the right ones anyway - conspiring about how to drive good results, not begging for them. A properly designed program helps employees to understand why service performance is important and how it will build the business, and thus opportunities for them. If I am your client, your job is to figure out how I define superior service and, within the parameters of your organization, either deliver against that expectation OR educate me as to why my expectations need to be revised.

3. Inspire honesty - if we want to improve, it stands to reason that we need to be aware of the areas where improvement is needed. This means we have to be able to sit with criticism. Negative comments are learning tools. Learn to ignore the tone, the sarcasm and the mean spirit and look for the learning.

4. Inspire communication - A properly designed program rewards service benchmarks while driving learning and understanding of missed benchmarks. Ask yourself if your performance program drives unrealistic expectations of perfection or opportunities for evolution. If the point of your program is perfection you are misguided and actually hurting your organization.

So take a moment to assess your current performance program. Are you accurately capturing customer feedback that you can truly learn from? Are you rewarding behaviour that is in-line with your company’s values and vision? Or are you inadvertently soliciting undesirable behaviour that acts in direct opposition to them? Identify any areas of opportunity that you might be missing out on and you’ll be well on your way to developing an effective performance program that will result in happy customers and satisfied employees.

Of course, none of this applies to us so please share and rate this article 5 out of 5 and leave only positive comments below;) We kid!!


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