What separates savvy managers from so-so-managers?

You have worked hard to get that job in management. Now, how do you keep it? What makes an employee work harder for one boss than for another? Is it the leader's charisma or because they're so "nice"? Hardly. Smart managers on the rise in any organization know that it takes far more than the right vibrations between manager and subordinates to create a highly productive working environment.
 

First of all, a good manager realizes that there are three basic rules of adult motivation:

 

1.        YOU can't motivate anyone.

2.        ALL people are motivated. A basic definition is: That element within a person that incites that person to action.

3.        People do things for THEIR reasons, not yours.

 
No wonder the carrot and stick approach never works for long!
 

So how do you find your employees' hot button that will cause them to be self-motivated?

 

Many ideas have been advanced regarding motivational theory. One thing inherent in all the theories is the need for recognition within all of us for a job well done.

 

Recognizing your employees for the good job they do is certainly not a new or imaginative concept. The problem is that most managers think they are doing a good job of it when, in fact, they don't know the language of good coaching.

 

By giving people positive feedback about what they are doing well, you can increase the QUANTITY of their good work. The following rules for giving recognition have been developed and proven by William R. Daniels, American Consulting and Training Inc., -- and I've seen them work!

 

Make the feedback refer to one SPECIFIC task. Generalized compliments like, "You're doing a great job," are received as back-slapping and glad-handling. They often seem phony and can damage your credibility. Paint them a clear picture of what you like and they'll give you more of it. For example: "Natalie, your respect for customers, use of their names and eye contact is ideal."

 

Rule one on specifics is crucial. Unfortunately, it's the one researchers find managers violating most frequently. The behavioral effects will not be achieved if the rewards, attention and recognition are not clearly associated with the behavior being reinforced. This is what separates it from "positive thinking" or "being pleasant." There is no "free" appreciation. All rewards are earned and the skilled manager is crystal clear about what is being recognized.

 

Keep the recognition PURE. That is, don't mix it with criticism. This one is tricky. Listen closely and you'll hear managers all around you making this mistake. Listen: "You're doing a nice job on the paperwork, Karen, but you need to be friendlier with the customers." As soon as an employee hears the "but" after a compliment, the entire thing is discounted. Given a choice between "good news" and "bad news", people only hear and remember the bad news so to get the "good news" across, keep it pure.

 

For maximum effect, make the feedback POSITIVE about good work. By encouraging desirable work you will crowd out less desirable work. For example, the following attempt at recognition only focuses on the negative, "Marcia, when you get your errors down, you'll be a fine order clerk." The undesirable errors will diminish much more quickly if Marcia's manager tells her what he or she likes about Marcia's work.

 

Offer the feedback IMMEDIATELY after the behavior has taken place or within 30 minutes of it coming to your attention. Giving your positive feedback, soon after the desirable work makes your message clear.The pleasure of your compliment gets associated with the work.

 

At first, offer the feedback FREQUENTLY -- when the desired work is in place, you can diminish the frequency. Frequency at first helps the employee make certain that you are paying attention and approve. Later, the employee will internalize this feedback as you slowly diminish it.

 

Offer the feedback IRREGULARLY. If you always offer your recognition at the same time -- Fridays at 4:30 -- you will probably find that people perform for you just before your feedback, in anticipation. Give recognition irregularly and you can stimulate a steady increase.

 

Haphazard? No. Easy? No. Does it work? Yes.

 

Most new employees come to their jobs highly motivated. A good manager knows proper recognition helps them stay that way.


Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 354-9500, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
 
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