Make it Human, Connect with the Impact

There’s a small trick, a small shift in thinking, in mindset, that can translate to immense performance gains. It’s this: connect personally with the impact, the change or result of what you do. Let me give you an example. Adam Grant is a talented young professor at the Wharton School and he conducted a study a couple years ago in which he worked with a group of students at the University of Michigan. These students were earning a little extra cash by making cold calls to alumni to raise money which would go to scholarship fund. The fund was used to help finance the tuition for students accepted at the university but unable to afford the tuition.

So Grant and his colleagues divided the students into three separate groups and had them perform activities for just 10 minutes before their call shift. With one group, the students could do whatever they wanted for 10 minutes before their calls. Check out facebook, text their friends, whatever. The second group was asked to read letters for a few minutes from people who had benefitted from the scholarship fund that they were working on, and then talk about the contents of the letter with their peers for a couple minutes.

The third group was also given a handful of letters to read together, but after a few minutes in the break room, they got a surprise. The call organizer would say, “We have a special guest on the phone.” And on the phone was a real recipient of the scholarship fund the students were working on. And for just 5 minutes, the students talked on a speaker phone in the break room with the beneficiary. They could ask questions about where they were from, what classes they were taking, what they intended do after they graduated, etc. Just for five minutes.
At the conclusion of the five minute phone call with the beneficiary, the organizer would say “Remember this when you’re on the phone—this is someone you’re supporting.”

That’s it. A ten minute intervention to connect the callers with the impact, the difference, the real goal of their work. The result? 250% increase in revenue performance sustained over a month after that one single intervention. 250% better than their peers that had no direct contact with the beneficiaries.

Take an opportunity to find and talk to the people who actually consume, touch, experience, contact what you offer or what you create. It will remind you of why you do what you do. It will lead to higher quality, integrity and excellence in craftsmanship and relationship with your customer. And higher performance too. How does 250% sound?