Management Success Tip #154: Indulge In A Powerful Motivator: Thank Your Employees

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You’d think that saying “thank you” or “I appreciate what you did here” would be normal, business-as-usual, in the workplace. You certainly think that you do your fair share of appreciating your employees. You may very well, however, here’s a wake-up call from UK’s performance improvement consultants Maritz (as discussed by business consultant Steve Roesler): their “research has found that almost one in five of us (19 per cent) have never been thanked for our efforts at work while more than a third only hear those two little words once or twice a year.”

More importantly, approximately one third of workers “receive regular recognition and are thanked several times a week, something that (as more than eight out of 10 of those surveyed acknowledged) has a positive impact on their desire to remain with their employer.”

Even if you think you already recognize, appreciate, and actually speak words of thanks and appreciation to your employees, think again. Are there workers you regularly thank, but some you take for granted? Are there workers you overlook in your thanks? Do you only think “Gee, good work, I appreciate that” in your mind, or do you actually speak the words?

When you next do a walk-through, or as a team meeting concludes, make the effort to catch an employee – or several – in the act of doing something right, and thank them, right there on the spot, in specifics, for what they’ve done right.

Thanks matter.


Management Success Tip #131: A Better Approach to Employee Feedback: Adopt the 5:1 Magic Feedback Ratio

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You know that giving feedback is essential to your employees’ ability to perform well, but you’re not always sure about how to best go about it.

The “praise sandwich” – where a manager begins feedback with a dose of praise, then offers the criticism, only to end with another layer of praise – has been much maligned as leading to weak management, among other criticisms.

Unfortunately, some managers have turned to giving purely negative feedback, to the exclusion of positive, in order not to seem “weak.” But this approach weakens the employee-manager relationship itself, hardly the desired outcome.

What to do?  Don’t worry so much about the “sandwich,” focus instead on the ratio of positive to negative comments.

University of Washington psychologist John Gottman has noted in his study of long-term relationships, that in the most successful ones the ratio of positive to negative interactions is 5:1  – even in the midst of a conflict.

That 5:1 ratio has been observed by countless others. It’s an excellent guideline.

Beyond that, put into practice Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck’s findings: that praising persistent efforts, even in situations where the employee has failed, helps build resilience and determination, while praising talent and ability results in risk-aversion and heightened sensitivity to setbacks.

Management Success Tip #116: Want Enthusiastic, Motivated Employees? Switch Your Focus from Output to Impact

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If you want engaged employees– critical to the success of your business–beyond the obvious of treating them with respect and providing fair compensation, change your emphasis from what Rosabeth Moss Kanter calls “output to impact – from how many products are sold to how much the products enrich peopleʼs lives in the broader society.”

We crave meaning in our work lives. We want to know that what we do matters, counts, is important–whether it’s putting widgets together on an assembly line or assisting in an operating room. Sure, it may seem easier to pump up employee enthusiasm when they are in life-saving occupations, but think about it: the employee who puts that widget together properly is integral to the safety of the machine or vehicle or whatever it is, and thus to the safety and well-being of the end user.

It’s up to you to see to it that your employees, from all departments, are well versed in the importance of what they do. Kanter’s recommendations are sound: “Repeat and reinforce a larger purpose. Emphasize the positive impact of the work they do. Clarity about how your products or services can improve the world provides guideposts for employeesʼ priorities and decisions. As part of the daily conversation, mission and purpose can make even mundane tasks a means to a larger end.”

What your employees do, matters. Let them know it. Lend your enthusiasm, your belief, your engagement to that cause, and your employees will bring their enthusiasm to yours.

Management Success Tip #111: Turn Personal Dislike of an Employee into Professional Appreciation

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You can’t like all your employees–heck, most of us don’t like everyone in our extended families–and yet, you still need to manage those you’re not particularly fond of.

More importantly, you need to manage the “unliked” in a way that facilitates their happiness at work, because as has been well established by now, unhappy employees have a way of disengaging, which in turn, negatively impacts your success.

According to Amy Gallo: “Itʼs neither possible — nor even ideal — to build a team comprised entirely of people youʼd invite to a backyard barbecue. But there are real pitfalls to disliking an employee. Consciously or unconsciously, you might mismanage him or treat him unfairly and fail to see the real benefit he can deliver to your team.”

The most effective antidote to personal dislike of someone? See the best in them! Focus on what the employee brings to your team that is of most benefit to its overall success. Pay attention to the ways in which the employee contributes, and emphasize those.

It doesn’t have to be something big: perhaps an employee you’re not particularly fond of is always on time, or shows enthusiasm for projects, or has good cost-cutting ideas.

What matters is that you switch your focus from your personal dislike of the employee to your professional appreciation for your employee’s value.

Management Success Tip #100: Boost Employee Engagement With A Simple Word of Thanks

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The human need for recognition and acknowledgment doesn’t stop when we walk out of our homes and head for work. On the contrary, the need for recognition in the workplace is so significant that it determines, more than just about anything else, whether or not we care about our 9-to-5.

Steve Roesler, Principal & Founder of the Steve Roesler Group, committed to excellence in the workplace, writes:

“Research by UK performance improvement consultants Maritz has found that almost one in five of us (19 per cent) have never been thanked for our efforts at work while more than a third only hear those two little words once or twice a year.

“Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, that’s about the same proportion as another recent survey found have no loyalty towards the organization they work for and couldn’t care less about their job.

“Yet at the other end of the spectrum, around a third of us do receive regular recognition and are thanked several times a week, something that (as more than eight out of 10 of those surveyed acknowledged) has a positive impact on their desire to remain with their employer.”

He or she who isn’t cared about, whose manager/employer can’t be bothered to give the occasional nod of approval, “good job” or other mark of recognition, doesn’t do good work. Whereas an appreciated employee not only stays with his or her employer, that employee is engaged, and more often than not, does good work. It’s as simple as that.

One plus one equals two. Do the math.

Management Success Tip #88: Low Cost Employee Rewards Yield Large Productivity/Performance Outcomes!

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Highly successful companies know all about making employees happy through rewards. The good news is, those rewards don’t have to cost much, sometimes nothing at all! Just some forethought and a little effort.

For example, as Jacob Kache reports:

“Web storage company NetApp has a long list of rewards and benefits that it offers its employees, but one of the most impressive is that the company’s vice chairman will ask for recommendations of people who are doing a good job, and then he calls 10 to 20 employees every day to thank them for their good work.”

Kache goes on to say, “Wegmans has an employee turnover that is surprisingly low for a grocery store chain, at just 3.6 percent. Part of the reason for this is that they reward their employees regularly with gift cards for good work.”

A small investment in tangible appreciation for your employees’ good work yields surprisingly large results.  How’s that for cost-benefit?!

Management Success Tip #81: Don’t Let Your Workers Jump Ship: Let Them Know They Matter!

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Most of us spend more of our waking hours at work, or working, than at any other single activity. Often at more than all of our other activities put together. So the fact that New York’s Conference Board shows that over 50% of Americans today hate their jobs, is painful, to say the least.

A clear reflection of the fact is that according to the U.S. Labor Department, 2.1 million people resigned their jobs in February of 2012, the most in any month since the start of the Great Recession.

People aren’t quitting because they’re happy. People are quitting, overwhelmingly, because they don’t believe their managers are interested in their well-being.

You know that you don’t set out to make your employees unhappy! You set out to make your business successful, but in the process, often it’s your employees who get the short end of the stick.

It’s too easy to assume employees will work for their paychecks, and forget that workers need more than a fair wage.

Your employees need to know, directly and personally, that they matter, that they count, that they are important to you and to the business.

Genuine, specific positive feedback given on an immediate basis is priceless. Asking an employee what their personal career goals are, and doing the best you can to support those goals is invaluable. Catching your employee in the act of doing something right motivates better than all the rah-rah speeches in the world.

Be mindful of the deep-seated need we all have to be acknowledged and appreciated, and your employees will be motivated to do their very best for you.