Reading time: 2 min 30 sec.
I often hear this from clients. They apply all of their expertise, they use all of their talent, they do more than the requirements specified. But their client criticizes and complains, and takes them for granted.
Often, I remind my service-provider clients that they need to praise and appreciate themselves. As Larry Bonfante of CIO Bench Coach points out in an article on CIO Insight, “Just because excellence can be invisible to the masses, it should never be invisible or taken for granted by us as leaders. We need to share our appreciation and recognition with our people because in all likelihood that’s the only recognition they are likely to receive.”
One reason the people we perform work for, whether internal clients or external, don’t recognize and appreciate work we do is because good work that meets the clients’ requirements is a hygiene factor: something noted only in its absence, and then complained about.
However, sometimes service providers, vendors, and even IT departments don’t get praise because they haven’t earned it.
Don’t get me wrong. I worked in IT, I’ve done client work as a project manager, programmer, and usability designer, as well as a trainer and mediator. I know the frustration of being seen as a cost center, not contributing to the ROI of the organization.
But take the experience of a colleague of mine when her company was looking for a web-design firm to re-implement their website on a different content-management platform. They chose a vendor carefully, so imagine their astonishment and frustration when the first deliverable the vendor sent was two site designs completely different from what they’d agreed to do.
When my colleague’s marketing director pointed this out to the web designers, they replied that in their professional opinion the current design was substandard and a poor reflection of the company’s work, and a complete redesign was necessary.
Needless to say, my colleague fired this vendor and requested return of the down payment.
The web designers were astonished and affronted. As far as they were concerned, they were doing my colleague and her company a favor. But they hadn’t considered that this “favor” would look to my colleague as a complete disregard of the contract they’d signed. They might have saved the contract had they made clear, from the beginning, that they thought a different design would give more value to her company.
Sometimes, you don’t get praise because your clients, external or internal, because they take you for granted. In situations like that, yes, you as a leader definitely must appreciate the work your team does.
But sometimes you don’t get praise because you didn’t serve the client. Always serve your client. And make sure your work is praiseworthy.