Earlier this year in a previous blog post, I told you about the Hawthorne Effect – ground-breaking research on employee motivation by Dr. Elton Mayo in the 1930’s. In a nutshell, Mayo discovered a fundamental concept that may seem obvious to us today: that workplaces are social environments and people thrive in positive and respectful surroundings. So, as a leader, when you create a positive atmosphere at work, you are much more likely to secure your employees’ cooperation and loyalty, and thus improve productivity and performance. Which leads to the next obvious question: what are some specific things that you can do to create such an environment and motivate and encourage your employees to peak performance?
Here’s one very effective approach: take steps to raise the self-esteem of your employees. And the simplest and most influential way to do so – offer genuine and sincere praise for the things that they do well. The keys to success – first, your praise must be genuine and sincere, and second, keep in mind that saying “thank you” is quite possibly the easiest alternative there is. Now you may think to yourself that you do this already, but wait just a moment … let’s conduct a little experiment. Tomorrow, before you go to work, put ten pennies in one pocket. During the day, whenever you genuinely and sincerely say thank-you or offer another form of praise to an employee, move one penny to another pocket. Your goal: to move all your pennies from one pocket to another before the day is over. Here’s the really cool thing about this experiment: no matter what the result, you’ll learn something about yourself. If all your pennies end up in another pocket, you have just affirmed your belief that you’re good at saying thank you and offering praise. However, the disappointing reality is that many of you will likely still have pennies left in your first pocket! Don’t lose heart though; consider the reason. Chances are you do appreciate the worth of your employees. However, like most people, just because you feel the sentiment doesn’t mean that you necessarily put it into words. The solution is straightforward: you just need to say it more often. And the way to train yourself to do this is to simply continue this self-experiment for a few weeks. Each day, you’ll notice that the number of pennies moving from one pocket to another will go up. And pretty soon, as the effort becomes a habit, you’ll no longer need the pennies to keep track.
C’mon, do the ten-pennies-experiment! And let me know how you do.