Thursday 29 January 2009

Why are they never happy?

This is another one of those stories that my girlfriend will tell you explains why we don't get invited around for dinner more than once, but I'll tell you is dead essential to the world of technology becoming a better place - one manager at a time...

Anyway, I'm listening to this buddy complain about how busy he is, how hard he's working, how many hours his team are putting in, and how much stuff they're getting out - yet still his customers aren't happy. They're always finding something to complain about, pointing out the things that are missing rather than thanking him for the things that are there.

When I hear this, what I think most people are really saying is "my team and I are working really hard and really long hours doing the things we want to do for this customer". Whenever I've seen this issue on the floor, it has almost always been because the guys were dedicated and hardworking, but being dedicated to and working hard on the wrong stuff.

Think about it like this; if I really want A, and you give me B, C, D, E, F, and G, then I might be impressed by how busy you've been and how much work you've done, but I still won't thank you for it. Yes, B through G were relevant to my department and they were things I wanted done - no argument there - but if A was the thing that meant the difference between getting that big contract or not, or making this quarters numbers or not, then I would have happily traded it all to have just A.

I'm not saying that there aren't ungrateful people in the world, but I am saying that until you've adopted a partnership-based, customer-centric view of how you deliver technology, you haven't earned the right to complain about them.

Look frequently and carefully at your priorities, and compare them against what your business is being driven to achieve - you never know - you might even end up doing less work and having happier customers.

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