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Customers – Not Managers – Key to Motivation


A study into sources of employee energy shows that customers not managers are workers main motivators.

The Impact of Customer Energy at Work, conducted by MBA students at the London Business School, suggests that interaction with a customer, whether external or internal, is the primary generator of an individual’s energy at work.

Leadership teams, on the other hand, have a minimal influence on an individual’s energy, compared with customers and colleagues. Only 16% of the 276 respondents chose their immediate line manager as having the most positive impact on their energy.

Paul Dale Harris of "Organisational Energy" specialist Attiva, who commissioned the study, said that this apparent lack of management impact on motivation levels was a "significant statistic".

He said: “Companies are spending vast sums of money on motivational programmes and leadership training, but the most important source of energy at work remains largely untapped. Businesses should be concentrating their ‘re-energising’ initiatives on helping their staff to improve their customer connection.”

The research found that the more time individuals spend with customers, the more energy they have at work. However, 1 in 3 respondents said that they don’t spend enough time with their customers.

Attiva states this is not simply about contact with customers – it’s about individuals seeing the impact of their work and the customer’s acknowledgment of the individual’s contribution. “If you know you are adding value, you feel valued yourself - that is a key source of energy for most people,” said Dale-Harris.

Although most respondents believed that they knew what their customers wanted from them (97%) and knew their customers’ priorities (95%), only 1 in 3 said they asked their customers for regular feedback. And while 85% of respondents had enough authority to serve customers as they saw fit, only 27% are actually appraised on customer satisfaction.

Key findings:
* 41% of employees say that customers have the greatest impact on their energy at work
* Only 9% are energised by the leadership team or CEO
* Only 16% of people are energised by managers
* Only 1 in 3 appraisals include customer satisfaction
* Only 1 in 3 regularly ask customers for feedback


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