On one of my courses I had a group of staff from the helpline of a healthcare charity. Their job was to field calls, and to provide information on diabetes – principally to those with diabetes, but also to relatives of people with diabetes.

They were highly motivated, wanted to do the best job possible and so wanted to set up feedback on how they were doing. They met and agreed a set of five questions that they would ask at the end of each call to check how the call had gone, and what they could do better next time.

They put their proposal to management for approval. It went through various levels, and across the desk of a range of managers. Eventually, a month later, a revised and improved version came back … of thirty questions to be asked at the end of each call. This was, of course, absurd and destroyed any ownership of the proposal the help-line staff had had. They never introduced the feedback and became less motivated.

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