Think for a moment about how you felt when a manager gave you a genuine compliment or a thank you for a job well done. (Hopefully you can remember a time). I bet you felt pretty good and probably motivated to do even better. I’m also sure you didn’t think your boss was a big softy or that he lacked courage; probably the opposite.
And yet it still seems to be something that some managers have great difficulty with. They take the attitude that, ‘Why tell people that you’re pleased with them when they’re only doing what they’re paid to do in the first place.’
A great deal of this attitude stems from managers, both male and female, thinking they have to be big and tough and macho. And managers don’t do all that touchy-feely stuff, saying thank you is for wimps.
Successful Managers don’t think that way; they realise that almost every member of their staff reacts positively to affirming feedback. The member of staff feels better about themselves and they feel motivated to repeat the behaviour. There is a saying that goes, ‘You get more of what you reward.’
Michael LeBoeuf tells this fable in his book The Greatest Management Principle in the World.
‘A man went fishing one day. He looked over the side of his boat and saw a snake with a frog in its mouth. Feeling sorry for the frog, he reached down, gently took the frog from the snake and set the frog free. But then he felt sorry for the snake. He looked around the boat, but he had no food. All he had was a bottle of whisky; so he opened the bottle and gave the snake a few shots. The snake want off happy, the frog was happy and the man was happy to have performed such a good deed. He thought everything was fine until about ten minutes passed and he heard something knock against the side of the boat. With stunned disbelief, the fisherman looked down and saw the snake was back with two frogs!’
It happened to me
I was setting up the room for a two day training seminar in a hotel recently. The General Manager of the hotel happened to be passing and came into the room. He introduced himself: ‘Good morning Mr Fairweather, my name is Tom Mitchell (not his real name of course) and I’m the General Manager. Is everything okay with your room and are you being looked after?’
I was very pleased with his approach and I mentioned it to the Conference Manager later in the day. I asked him to speak to the General Manager. ‘Please tell Mr Mitchell that I really liked the way he came into the room this morning, introduced himself to me and enquired if everything was okay. He made me feel like a special customer.’
The next morning as I was getting ready to start, the General Manager appeared again. ‘Everything alright Mr Fairweather?’ was his enquiry. Now I know that this manager doesn’t go round all the meeting rooms every morning enquiring if everything is okay. I was just getting a bit more of “what I had rewarded”.
So if you tell one of your staff that you like the way they have completed some aspect of their work, then you’ll find that they continue to do that work in the same way or probably even better.
About the author
Article by Alan Fairweather, International Speaker and the author of, 'How to be a Motivational Manager, ‘How to Manage Difficult People' and ‘How to Make Sales When You Don't like Selling'. Visit: www.themotivationdoctor.com, for more information.