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WARNING FOR THOSE BUSINESSES THAT EMPLOY PEOPLE...This May Offend Some So Called "Performance Management Experts" But Seriously...It Really Needs to be Said.

Posted 10/15/2014

By Paul Marshall

“When employees feel appreciated, three important things happen: they embrace the goals and visions of the company; they feel their contributions make a difference; and they become inspired to do great work. In short, they bring their hearts and minds to the table. And for most organizations, that can make the difference between being good or great, ordinary or extraordinary, passing or profitable.”


 It is extremely common for employees in the workplace to feel under-valued, under-appreciated, and unrecognized. In fact, this complaint is more common than gripes about salary, procedures, or benefits.

Gallup polls show that 65% of the employees interviewed do not feel appreciated at work. And 79% of the employees who quit their jobs do so because they didn’t feel appreciated.[2] These figures show that appreciation is a big deal that is being neglected at organizations of every shape and size.


In fact, most organizations tend to take the approach that employees should “just be grateful to have a job” and that the paycheck is the appreciation. Unfortunately, this creates a hostile environment where employees are made to feel a little less than human.


By contrast, employees who are in an organization where gratitude is a big part of the company culture tend to be more engaged, more passionate, and more loyal to the company. When you, as a leader, start displaying this gratitude you’ll also find that your employees start offering more gratitude to each other, and to you. The result is a much more positive and productive work environment.


Gratitude isn’t about the big, grand gestures. You don’t need to spend tons of money, and you won’t get as far as you think you will by bringing in the occasional box of donuts. Ever heard of saying “Thanks for a great job”?  It’s actually FREE but… IT MUST BE SAID AT THE EXACT RIGHT MOMENT. In FACT…


You Must Catch your Staff Doing Something Right Today and Everyday


Try hard and catch employees doing something right as much as possible. Throughout the learning and engagement process employees need positive encouragement whenever they do something right. The most important thing in training people to become winners is to catch them doing something right and immediately recognize and praise this desired achievement.


Employees usually get left alone with an expectation that they will eventually perform. The most effective way of turning all your employees into winners is to catch them doing something right as frequently as possible - preferably daily and I am going to say this again - recognize this achievement immediately.


A leader or manager that fails to recognize desired outcomes in their workplace will create a culture of employees who become unmotivated, do the bare minimum to collect their paychecks and do anything they can to go home fast.


This is very common, very sad but very True!


When you catch your employees or team members doing something right you must reward it immediately with praise. This praise will lead to more correct behavior and positive performance. In the beginning you catch people doing something approximately right, even small things, and gradually move them towards the desired behavior or larger achievements.


Many managers wait until their people do something exactly right before they praise them, or worse still ignore achievements and look for things they are doing wrong, criticize them, and then wonder why their people become frustrated and poor achievers.


Most managers wait until the official annual performance appraisal to sit down with their people and talk with them about his or her work performance. unfortunately its just the we all were trained but ...this is a big mistake. By this time the “horse has bolted and three quarters of the way down the race track”. Sitting down with your people, giving performance counselling every six, or worse 12 months, presents the possibility of bad habits to develop and establish themselves in your people’s performance.


Speaking with your people regularly, and encouraging them to “keep up the great job” (of course when they have done a great job) and, acknowledging a job well done as soon as it is completed will keep a standard of excellence in the business. Giving systematic appraisals every 6 or 12 months is OK but you must recognize and appraise achievements regularly and immediately as they occur as well.


Could you imagine trying to train a dolphin to only punish it when it didn’t jump through the hoop? The dolphin would never actually learn how to jump through the hoop or display the correct and desired behavior or actions.


Worse still - what about sitting down with it and punishing at every 6 or 12 month intervals. Sounds crazy right! Well that’s the common performance management process.


If a task has been performed exceptionally well by your people, you will want to give praise immediately, to encourage repetition of the outcome.


Equally, if a mistake or bad decision is made, you will want to take corrective action immediately, to ensure these sorts of outcomes are not commonly repeated.  


Many great inspiring leaders have known this to be true. Here is an extract from Dale Carnegies famous “How to win Friends & Influence People”.


Charles Schwab says that he was paid his $1,000,000 per year salary during the industrial age not for his technical knowledge but largely because of his ability to deal with people. Dale Carnegie asked him how he did it. Schwab replied:

 “I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement. There is nothing else that so kills the ambition of a person as criticism from superiors. I never criticize any one. I believe in giving a person incentive to work. So I am anxious to praise but loath to find fault. In my wide association in life, meeting with many great people in various parts of the world I have yet to find the person, however great or exalted their station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit approval then they would ever do under a spirit of criticism”. 


This is just one example but there exists many similar to this.


History is filled with evidence that leadership by force cannot endure. The downfall and disappearance of dictators and kings are significant. It means that people will not follow forced leadership indefinitely. Leadership by consent of the followers is the only brand, which can endure.


Always catch your staff doing something right and immediately reward this behaviour, and increase employee moral and productivity.


Your people require regular feedback on how they going. Informal appraisals and regular encouragement will build moral, commitment, and motivation. Any poor performance can and should be rectified as it happens, so as not to establish bad habits. You will also be seen to take a genuine interest in the jobs that your people are performing. With this type of “hands on role”, you can encourage and inspire your people to be the best he or she can be.


Acknowledging your employees and extending this simple courtesy is one way to make them feel as though you appreciate them and their contributions. Saying “thank you” on a regular basis is also a great idea. Again, it takes none of your time and it costs very little.


“Thank you” gets you into the positive habit of noticing what employees are doing right. Hearing “thank you” encourages the same good behavior, over and over again. The result is a wonderful positive feedback loop.


I Dare you to Change...


If your business or department has daily morning meetings whereby you all sit around a table and discuss what you are all going to do for the day I dare you to change this old stale routine.


Instead of having a morning meeting on Friday try having the meeting in the afternoon whereby people convey their achievements and give them an opportunity to share their successes the week and for God’s sake…


*Give recognition to these achievements and see the change that takes place.*


About the Author:

Paul Marshall is a HR Pro, corporate trainer, author and a trusted and welcomed business partner with commercial awareness and extensive expertise in people, performance and organisational capabilities. 

He draws from years of life, experiences, thoughts, education, arts, failures, learning’s and successes and translates this into simple Golden Tips to be used to shortcut pathways to business and career success.


Paul is an author of:

103 Golden Tips to Turbo Charge your Business make More Money and Get Rich

103 Golden Tips to Turbo Charge your Employees Skyrocket Productivity and Get More Output


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[1] Ibid, 29.

[2] O.C. Tanner Company. Milestone Appreciation: A Powerful Tool for Engaging Employees., accessed 7/31/2012.