Keith, credit manager for a truck fleet services company, told Session 10 of the Leadership Development Lab:
“In my four years as a supervisor and manager, I have maintained a ‘business only’ relationship with the members of the departments I have supervised. Somewhere along the way, I was ‘trained’ not to develop personal relationships with team members. My relationship with Angie, one of our collection representatives, was no exception to my hard and fast rule, very professional.
“In the Leadership Development Lab, I began to learn that it is okay, in fact wholly appropriate, to show a genuine interest in others, especially those in my department (Leadership Principle #2 – Become Genuinely Interested in Others). I focused my efforts on Leadership Principle #4 – Acknowledgement; pay attention, show appreciation, provide approval, and give heartfelt praise. I also began to continuously apply Turbo’s 4-step approach to empowering acknowledgement with Angie, who I selected as one of my ‘pearls’ at Session 2 of the Lab.
“I didn’t notice any changes after a month, but two months into the Leadership Development Lab, Angie broke her personal “world’s record” for production. She went from her last year’s average of under 250 activities per month to 380 activities last month. That is more than a 50 percent improvement. I can’t claim all the credit, but I believe the positive attention I gave her made a big difference.
“The lesson I learned from this experience is that nurturing relationships with employees and providing positive feedback can increase production.
“The action I call you to take is to show a genuine interest in everyone on your team.
“The benefit you will gain is increased productivity and happier employees.”
Keith’s example can teach many lessons if we are ready to learn. First, if we are going to create changed performance, we must be willing to give up old ideas. No improved performance is possible if we cling to old practices.
Second, we must know the score, the averages, and the best periods of production. If you are not keeping score, you can’t celebrate your team’s gains and successes.
Finally, we must give up our preoccupation with our little world and start giving meaningful recognition to our team members for the important efforts and results they help the team achieve. You can begin by greeting your team members when they show up. Acknowledge effort with approval and encouragement, even for work that is approximately right. Show appreciation when your team goes the extra mile. And give specific, insightful praise that lets your team know you have noticed their personal strengths, their admirable qualities.
Praise gives the receiver a positive reputation to live up to. They see themselves in a new light and begin to perform in harmony with this strengthened self-image. Praise and appreciation helps people grow, which increases their value. Positive attention pays big dividends.