A Step Too Far
Updated: Oct 21, 2018
Have you ever put a tonne of work in, really did more than your client expected and then felt let down that they didn’t acknowledge your effort?
I remember some years ago when my cleaner at the time decided to leave. On her list of reasons was that she did all these extras for me and I never said thank you.
I have to admit that stung. I do try to be polite and acknowledge people’s efforts. The more I thought about it though, the more I realised that the reason I hadn’t said thank you was because I hadn’t asked for it. More importantly, it was of little value to me. She thought it was important and that I’d appreciate it - I would rather she had done the job I was paying her for better.
So it turns out we were both unhappy, she because she felt she’d gone the extra mile, me because I thought she hadn’t done her job well enough.
This can happen when you are delivering to clients as well.
You want to deliver great value to them.
You might decide to deliver extra. That bit that you know will be super useful for them.
In doing so, it takes you longer - perhaps you miss a deadline or the overall quality isn’t as good as it could have been or you stayed really late to finish for them.
Then you give the finished product to your client. Rather than applauding what you've done, they don't acknowledge it. Worse, perhaps they complain about what you did do.
You are frustrated that your work has gone unappreciated - after all you were doing it for them!
Your client is annoyed because you were late or didn’t fully deliver what they did want.
Neither of you are happy and yet this was entirely avoidable.
Take the following points into account when agreeing your deliverables.
Make sure you fully understand what the client wants.
Confirm with your client that your interpretation is correct.
Do not assume that you have the same expectations - spell it out. Remember the old cliche about assume!
Define done - this may sound obvious, but like all assumptions, we tend to believe that people have understood it in the same way we have. Done should take into account revisions and anything else that might result in you doing more work. For example, if you are delivering a report - do you expect them to come back and request changes or extra sections? What is reasonable in your view? Do they have the same view?
Be clear on whether you are charging for it or offering it as a bonus. Be careful about the extra work it is going to add on and that you can still meet any agreed deadlines.
When doing the work:
Resist the urge to do more - you have agreed what is required. Deliver that. Do a great job.
If you really believe that the extra is going to make a huge difference - speak to them - see if it is important to them as well.
If you decide to go ahead anyway, make sure you think through the impact to you. For example, will it mean additional work is required - 'I love what you've done but could you just...'.
Try not to put more pressure on yourself for no return.
If you can't resist the urge to do more, then if at all possible finish what you were tasked with first. Go back and provide your 'added value' as your last task.
Can you relate to this? Share your experience of going the extra mile!
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