Employee Experiences and Why You Need to Focus on Consequences

In the last blog post, you looked at how progressive organizations are focusing on managing their employee experience as a way to ensure the best possible customer experience. From the Service Profit Chain‘s point of view, this makes perfect sense.

You can create super sophisticated employee career journey maps, but you could also only look at what a day looks like on your team from the point of view of an employee experience. What are the emotional highs and lows in a day? You looked at how managing positive ending has a huge influence on how the whole day is perceived.

In this blog post, have a look at why managing the end of the day is just as—or maybe even more—important than managing the start of the day from a motivational point of view.

A reasonably accepted definition of motivation is a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way.

That reason—called the activator—for doing or not doing something can come from two main sources. It can be external—somebody does something to make you act, e.g., a request, threat, reward etc. The activation can also come from within yourself—you feel an inner urge to do something.

In either case, you end up doing whatever it is—that is the behavior part. Every behavior has a consequence. The sequence then looks like this in everything you do: Activator—Behavior—Consequence.

In simple terms, feeling a craving for sweets activates you to get up and go to the cupboard to find a bar of chocolate. The consequence is that you feel good; your sugar craving is satisfied. Maybe you also learn that eating chocolate is a solution for killing a sweet tooth.

Now, just pause for a minute.

What do you think has the largest influence on your behavior on a daily basis—the activator or the consequence?

If you're like most of the people I have in my workshops, you'll say that it's the activator. Most people tend to think that they do things because there's a push, but that's not entirely correct.

Eighty percent of what you do or don’t do is determined by what you think the consequences are going to be. The drive is the consequence—that triggers the activator.

But you may be thinking, "That's not true—because I know that the consequences of eating chocolate is that I'll get fat. Why do I still do it then?" That's because people are wired to value short-term consequences higher than long-term consequences. On top of that, you'll value consequences that are certain more than consequences that can be considered possibilities in the future.

At two o’clock in the morning on New Year’s Eve, someone suggests that you crack open a bottle of Jack Daniels. The well-known short-term consequence is that it's going to feel great. The possible long-term consequence is that you're going to feel terrible tomorrow.

That's also why it's hard to get people to stop smoking. The immediate and most certain consequence is that they'll feel a kick from the nicotine. The long-term possible consequence is that it may kill them.

Let's go back to managing your daily employee experience: What do you think has the largest influence on our motivation to go to work? How the day starts (activation) or how the day ends (consequences)?

It’s a no brainer.

If you want your team to come in tomorrow—energized and ready to rock and roll—you need to think about how you should end today. What will be the consequences of their efforts today?

How are they going to feel when they go home—elated, confident and positive? Or will they be downcast, self-blaming, frustrated and angry? Whatever it is, it's going to be your starting point tomorrow.

How do you then do a better job of managing your endings?


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Mike Hohnen, MBA is a coach, trainer, author and public speaker who supports leaders, managers and their teams in implementing the principles of the Service Profit Chain.

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