Here’s another nugget from the book, Instant Turnaround, by Harry Paul and Ross Reck.
A Harvard Business Review research study found that most employees are excited when they start a new job. The excitement is short-lived however. In 85 percent of the companies surveyed the level of excitement declines sharply in the first six months and continues on a downward trajectory in the years that follow. One of the main reasons for this is that their managers didn’t thank them for a job well done, but instead, were quick to criticize them for their mistakes.
What these managers fail to realize is that if they would focus their efforts on showing sincere appreciation to their employees instead of pointing out mistakes, their employees would work harder and make far fewer mistakes. Saying “thank you” often not only energizes your employees, it makes you a more effective manager.
Joe and Wanda?
Joe Kerr: Thanks so much for pointing that out to me, genius! That’s super advice. You did hear me say, “Thank you,” correct? I’m already improving, aren’t I? By the way I’m expecting you to step up your game and become more productive as a result of my gratitude.
Wanda B. Goode: This seems so simple but it’s not. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. It’s a lot easier to forget to say thank you and focus on the mistakes. A sincere thank you for the reminder.
A related post…
In her new book, 42 Rules of Employee Engagement, Susan Stamm suggests her readers take the Penny Challenge for 3 days. Place 10 pennies in your left pocket at the start of the day. Each time you provide a word of sincere positive feedback to one of your employees move a penny from your left pocket to your right. At the end of the day, the amount of pennies in your right pocket is your praise score. Try to increase your praise score by one each day.
What do you think Joe and Wanda?
Joe Kerr: A penny saved is a penny earned. That’s what my dad always told me, and I pass the same wisdom along to my guys. I tell them they probably won’t ever make as much money as me, but that doesn’t mean they can’t squirrel a few nuts away for the future.
Wanda B. Goode: This is a real eye opener. I think it applies equally well outside the workplace. I like Susan’s comment, “Just one person working consistently at this can create a new trend in your organization’s recognition culture.” One person can make a difference!
Here is a related post on feedback.
In Mark McCormack’s book, On Managing, the former CEO of sports marketing company, IMG states, “When it comes to singing other people’s praises, all of us could use voice lessons.” He goes on to say that one’s criticism to praise ratio should not be greater than one to one. What’s your criticism to praise ratio?
Joe Kerr: I’m not sure what my ratio is, but you can call me Pavarotti because I sing with the best of them. Just this morning I told young Chip that I was impressed with his new ride. I told him it was exactly the type of car I’d have gotten at his age. He was thrilled. It’s great when you can make someone’s day like that.
Wanda B. Goode: I agree that we can all be a bit tone deaf at times. Praising good work is such a simple thing, but I find if it’s not on my mind, I don’t do it. I actually set periodic reminders in my scheduler to force me to think about it more often.
Check out this post on the value of praising…
Here’s one that addresses the fear of over-praising…
In his book, The Wisdom of the Flying Pig, Jack Hayhow has a few thoughts on recognition. Here’s one of them.
So be on the lookout for positive behavior. When you see it – say something, do something. It doesn’t have to be a parade (although that’s not a bad idea). It can be a simple word of thanks, appreciation scribbled on a sticky note, a cookie or a star sticker like you got in grade school. If you haven’t praised each of your staff at least once in the last week, you have an inadequate staff, OR you performance as a manager is deficient.
How about you Joe and Wanda? Have you praised each of your staff in the last week?
Joe Kerr: Just yesterday I let my admin know she makes a kick-@ss chocolate chip cookie! It really is one of the best I’ve ever had – truly exceptional – and one of a select few things worthy of Joe Kerr’s seal of approval.
Wanda B. Goode: My answer is no, I have not, and I must admit that I don’t recognize team members nearly as much as I should. It seems like such a simple thing, but it’s definitely not easy. It takes conscious thought and effort. This may sound too scripted, but I think I’m going to start by setting a recurring appointment in my calendar for addressing recognition until I develop the habit.
How about all of you managers out there? Have you praised each of your staff in the last week?
For more on recognition, check out the following posts…
and check out some of the other Joe and Wanda posts…
I was just reading one of Phillip Humbert’s newsletter. In it he states that the leader’s most important job is to get the employees to come back tomorrow. “As boss, your key task is to see that your people are well served, well maintained, well trained, and well respected. Without that, everything else is just a pause until they move on.” Thoughts?
Joe Kerr: What do people want from me? They get a pay check don’t they? They get a nice PC, and how about the free coffee? It’s like being a kid in a candy store around here. What more do they want? I’ve had enough of the excessive pandering. They just don’t know how good they have it. If they want to move on, screw ‘em. In fact, that’s just what I do. When they give me two weeks notice I kick ‘em the hell out the next day. Seeya!
Wanda B. Goode: It certainly is true that the people do the work. Time spent constantly backfilling positions and training new people could be much better spent elsewhere. That’s for sure.
Of course on the flip side, it’s the people that aren’t the best that seem willing to hang on forever, and that’s not a good thing. They need to be dealt with, and the right people need to be treated as Dr. Humbert indicates above.
Joe and Wanda, a few weeks ago we talked about the best recognition item you ever gave to a team member. Tell us about a recognition item that didn’t work out so well.
Joe Kerr: First of all, I don’t give a whole lot of recognition. My team members get paid to do a job and they do it. With that said, I do recall one instance a few years back that didn’t exactly go off as planned. I usually take my company’s Phillies tickets. My kid loves going to the park. We go as often as we can. One day I had a family emergency so I couldn’t make the game that night. I decided I’d make somebody’s day. I called Merideth into my office, thanked her for the great job she just did on her project and offered up the tickets. She told me she didn’t think she’d be able to clear her schedule. I told her how great the seats were and how she’d be crazy not to take me up on my offer. Then she told me she didn’t like baseball. Talk about an ingrate. I’ll tell you what, if I go out of my way to give someone some extra recognition, they had better appreciate it!
Now you’ve gotten me upset. That’s enough talk about the past. You’ve gotten me off my game. I’m a leader, I look out the windshield not the rear view mirror. I’m about vision. I’m about the future. I’ve got to be two or three steps ahead of the game to succeed in this business.
Wanda B. Goode: I’ve had some recognition backfire on me a couple of times. One time I gave a gift certificate to a steak house to a vegetarian. That didn’t go over too well. I just didn’t do my homework and didn’t take the time to learn about the team member. No excuses. I actually learned of my blunder from another team member. I quickly found out his favorite restaurant and picked up another gift certificate. I apologized profusely when I gave it to him.
Recognizing people takes time. If you try to take short cuts and you don’t make the time to learn about your team members, it can easily backfire.
Joe and Wanda: What’s the best recognition item you’ve ever given?
Joe Kerr: That’s an easy one. Just this past year one of my guys did a great job. He put together a fabulous presentation for me. Made me look like a champ at the client conference.
I just had to do something special for him. So, the next time I came in from California I let him pick me up at the airport in my Porche. Imagine the thrill that must have been for the kid to ride in a car like that! Not only that, think of the inspirational message I sent. I was basically saying, “this could be yours one day kid if you play your cards right.”
You’ve probably heard the saying, “you’ve got to give to get.” So true. That Porche is my baby. I don’t even let my wife drive it! You just have to make sacrifices sometimes. I know the kid really appreciated it. Every time I see him now I give him the fake gear shift motion. He loves it! By the way, no damage to my girl either, so it worked out great.
Wanda B. Goode: I don’t really know how to answer this one. It’s really the receivers of the recognition that are the true judges. You’ll have to check with them.
I can tell you the best recognition item I ever received. It was before I became a manager. On the actual day I completed a project (on time and in budget) that was critical for the success of our subsidiary, my boss handed me a packet including 2 plane tickets, hotel reservations, rental car, spending money, and a pass for 2 days off, so I could take a long weekend at my favorite vacation spot with my spouse. He took care of every last detail to include flowers and a thank you note in the hotel room. I knew my efforts had a positive impact on the company. I was already proud of that. The recognition just really made me feel appreciated. It made me want to go out and do it again.
I try to do the same when I recognize people. I try to make it personal, timely, and match the accomplishment.
As a manager it is important that your team members are qualified to do their ever-changing jobs. Obtaining training for them is one way to do so. Let’s find out how Joe and Wanda approach training.
Joe Kerr: I try not to train team members if I can at all help it. First of all it negatively impacts my numbers. Don’t get me wrong, I always put some money for training in my budget, but that’s only for sand-bagging purposes, so I look good when I come in under budget at the end of the year. I need to look out for number one.
Training is over-rated. Take me for instance. I haven’t had any training in years. Haven’t read a book since college, and it hasn’t impacted me in the least. This is the school of hard knocks! If employees can’t learn how to do their jobs on their own, I’ll find others in the market that can. Besides, who wants to spend big bucks training someone only to see them go to another company for more money? Talk about a slap in the face!
Wanda B. Goode: Training is a great motivator. It generates increased productivity. Employees are so eager to use their skills to the benefit of the team.
I push for as many training dollars as I can get, and avoid dipping into the funds for other purposes. Sometimes budget cuts get announced mid year. I try my best to avoid impacting training.
Realizing that training dollars are limited, I also work to maximize them. Our team uses the train-the-trainer method where a select few people attend a class and then train the rest of the team. It’s a lot cheaper, and it’s very effective. Peter Drucker stated, “Knowledge workers and services workers learn most when they teach.” I agree with that and have shared it with the team on many occasions. I encourage team members to constantly teach one another. I do my share of teaching as well. Everyone benefits as a result. The ideas that people come up with are amazing!
Some fear training their employees. They don’t want to spend money to train workers, only to see them quit and use their new skills to benefit a competitor. I don’t buy that. In Stephen R. Covey book, “The Speed of Trust,” there is a quote from an unidentified CEO. Someone asked him, “What if you train everyone and they all leave?” He responded, “What if we don’t train them and they all stay?” Now that can keep you up at night!
We need to retain good people in order to thrive in today’s global economy. Employees need to continue to learn and grow if we are to change and re-invent our groups and our companies. Employee training and development is essential for long term success.