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It’s odd but true: The most powerful motivators tend to also be the
simplest ones with the least cost, starting with praise. When you think
of praising an employee, remember this simple approach: ASAP-cubed:
• As soon: Timing is very important when using positive reinforcement. Give praise as soon as a desired behavior is displayed.
• As sincere: Praise someone because you are truly appreciative and excited about the other person’s success. Otherwise, it may come across as a manipulative tactic.
• As specific: Avoid generalities in favor of details of the achievement. For example, “You really turned that angry customer around by focusing on what you could do for him, not on what you could not do for him.”
• As personal: A key to conveying your message is praising in person, face to face. This shows that the activity is important enough to you to put aside everything else you have to do and just focus on the other person.
LEADERSHIP: THE PEOPLE THING
Ask Bob and Peter: What can you do when the owners of a company just don't believe in rewarding their employees? None of the employees are feeling appreciated for their work. My concern is for the laborers in our warehouse. No one ever says a kind word to them; no one sees how much they need a pat on the back. The owners of the company think that giving a Christmas dinner every year is your reward. Morale is so low right now. How can I present a reward system to the company? How can I make them see what a difference it would make?
You've got to somehow get on management's radar screen. The point is that rewarding employees isn't just a good idea because it makes employees feel better (although that's not such a bad thing, is it?) but that it makes good business sense. Happy employees are more productive, they provide better customer service, and they are less apt to leave a company for other opportunities. A study by Sears Roebuck at 800 of its stores found that if employee attitudes on 10 essential factors (e.g., treatment by bosses and workload) improve by 5 percent, customer satisfaction will jump 1.3 percent— leading to a 0.5 percent increase in revenues. For Sears—with annual revenues of about $41 billion—this translates to more than $200 million in additional revenues a year.
So how do you get on management's radar screen? Try posting an article or survey on the benefits of employee rewards on company bulletin boards. Bob's web site—http://www.nelson-motivation.com—has lots of free articles, interviews, and more on the Resources page, which you can post or pass on to management and coworkers. Give your boss or your boss's boss a copy of Bob's book 1001 Ways to Reward Employees (New York: Workman, 1994)—it's full of creative and effective ideas for rewarding employees, most of which cost little or nothing to implement—or The 1001 Rewards & Recognition Field-book (New York: Workman, 2003), which has an entire chapter devoted to the topic of selling recognition to top management.
The Management Bible
• As positive: Too many managers undercut praise with a concluding note of criticism. When you say something like, “You did a great job on this report, but there were quite a few typos,” the “but” becomes a verbal erasure of all that came before.
• As proactive: Lead with praising and “catch people doing things right” or else you will tend to be reactive—typically about mistakes—in your interactions with others.
BE CREATIVE WHEN REWARDING EMPLOYEES
Recognition is one of the most powerful activities that a manager can do to increase productivity, improve morale, and provide a sense of meaning on the part of employees on a day-to-day basis. Yet, in most work environments, this activity is underutilized and even randomly applied. Studies indicate that being thanked for doing a good job is one of the most motivating incentives an employee reports receiving, even though some 58 percent of employees say they seldom if ever receive such thanks from their managers where they currently work. When recognition is tied to desired performance, it becomes a big driver of enhancing that performance, both the quantity and quality of individual effort and results.
The value of recognition is almost common sense, but not common practice in most fast-paced business environments today. In fact, one of the obstacles to getting people to provide more recognition is that many managers already think they are doing a good job at recognizing others—even though others may not agree.
When it comes to rewards, most managers feel that the only thing that their employees want is more money. While money can be an important way of letting employees know their worth to the organization, it tends not to be a sustaining motivational factor to most individuals. That is to say, salary raises are nice, but seldom are they what motivates people to do their best on the job.
LEADERSHIP: THE PEOPLE THING