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I know, it’s been a while since my last opportunity to write, but I’ve been diligently collecting all of the great ideas and pearls of wisdom from my summer blogging break, so nothing is lost. What that means is that a lineup of great topics on Web Business, Engineering, and User Experience are coming your way soon.

For a start, a note on Human character that trickles down to perceptions of performance everywhere.

No matter how long of a history you hold with a person, if asked about your performance in the end they will likely remember not the averages of your work, but the highest of HI-ghs and the lowest of LOW-s you’ve delivered. Adaptive Path opened my eyes to this little insight in a recent presentation of their new book, Subject to Change.

Think about it for a second! If you are a cable company, people will remember the fact that your outage just made them miss a favorite season finale, and they will definitely remember the bonus channels you allowed them to watch for a month as an apology for the inconvenience. However, they will essentially ignore the fact that you did provide them with service for months. That’s what they are already paying you for, right?

As an employee – your work is what earns your paycheck. It is expected. As a result, plain vanilla work description based performance is not likely to be rewarded as of itself. Your failures of meeting the standards will certainly bring you down the MVP list, but its the things that show you go above the average that will be the panacea of that next promotion. What will drive your career as top performer is not the long hours, strong efforts, or timely red tape, but the little suggestion that made your boss’s life easier, the extra client you attracted to the company, and that new product that led to this year’s revenue generation spike.

The same goes for brands. Top products and brands rely on a full range of little surprises that build the ordinary customer experience into a remarkable one. The chocolates left on a hotel pillow (before they turned cliché) at Hilton. The bonus features on a software CD. The courtesy call you make to a formerly angry customer to ensure his/her expectations are met. Anything that stands above and beyond the expectation of ordinary. Seth Godin can most definitely tell you more on this topic from a Marketing perspective.

Positive perception of performance does not demand a lot of money, time, or attention. Just a little forethought and understanding of the needs of your stakeholders will suffice. After all, only known expectations can be exceeded.

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Posted by: Diana Zink on Thursday, 21st Aug, 2008

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