Last November’s issue of United’s Hemispheres magazine had a very interesting article about how high-security prison inmates in Thailand have the opportunity to reduce their sentences by months (or even years) by participating in prison-sanctioned Muay Thai fighting bouts. If you are not familiar with Muay Thai, it is a full-contact martial arts combat sport that uses fists, elbows, knees, shins and feet. While it may seem paradoxical at first glance – the most dangerous criminals are being awarded their freedom by engaging in fighting – it begins to make more sense once you look closely. As the article explains – “Drugs and gang activity are rampant in Thai prisons, and there are precious few opportunities for rehabilitation or education. Training for a match helps center the contestants and fills up their days with gym time. It also makes work for scores of other prisoners, who serve as coaches, cutmen, sparring partners and masseurs. These crewmen develop strong bonds with their boxers and each other, as well as a sense of purpose.”
Bottom line: the contest provides two commodities that are in extremely short supply in Thai prison life: a chance at redemption and a source of pride.
So let’s bring this back to our workplaces. True, our employees aren’t seeking redemption from a life of crime, but they are looking to standout and shine, and they definitely want their jobs to be a source of pride. About a year ago, I asked the question – Are you shining the spotlight on your employees? In much the same way, are we, as leaders, creating opportunities for our employees to shine and for them to be proud of working for us? What unconventional (or conventional) approaches are you using to build up your people and make them proud to work in your department? Please share.