Is an employee sometimes difficult? Yes! Is an employee sometimes disgruntled? Yes! Is an employee ungrateful from time to time? Yes! Do employees disappoint you on occasion? Yes!
Does that mean you should neglect the 95% of the time that employees do their jobs, take the extra step on their own, make customers smile and pleasantly surprise you? NO!
Most business owners / managers (regardless of industry) would agree that much of their job is dealing with employee issues even more than customer complaints. Sometimes the drama is just tiresome and as a result it seems that employee issues are perhaps more frequent than actuality would bear out.
Intuitively, you know that employees with positive morale are better at their jobs and employees with negative morale not only perform less effectively and efficiently, but also diminish the positive attitudes of other employees.
The purpose of this column isn’t to say that employees aren’t difficult, but instead to have you begin the new year with a different focus. Instead of often thinking about how employees have disappointed you and (in some cases made you full-blown angry), consider how to continually and consistently show your employees appreciation. In The One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard calls this “catch people doing something right” and then give them “One Minute Praise.”
Intuitively, you know that employees with positive morale are better at their jobs and employees with negative morale not only perform less effectively and efficiently, but also diminish the positive attitudes of other employees. Better attitudes produce better customer service, more efficient work with fewer errors and reduced sick days.
For employees to be happy and productive, they must feel appreciated and they must believe that what they do for the company is important. Continually reinforce how each employee’s job contributes to the company’s vision and success. It is human nature to want to believe that what we spend the majority of our lives doing (working) makes a difference. So tell each employee specifically how his or her job makes a difference to the productivity of the company, to customer satisfaction, to the efficiency of the company, to money savings for the company or money contribution to the company.
Most importantly, when you ask an employee to make a change, to do something extra, to get out of his comfort zone, make sure the employee understands What's In It For Me?
As an employer, you get busy and you assume each individual knows that what she does makes a difference, but sometimes we all need that encouragement. Most importantly, when you ask an employee to make a change, to do something extra, to get out of his comfort zone, make sure the employee understands WIIFM (What’s In It for ME!)
We ask employees to sell accessories, to save money on supplies, to invoice more quickly, but do we tell the employee how she will personally benefit if, indeed, the company does make more money. Employees often assume they are being asked to do something to make the company more money without understanding the benefits to themselves.
Have you shared with employees that if the company makes more money – the company can afford to invest in new tools, new computers, new phones, new trucks, raises and bonuses. The money to fund those benefits for employees comes from increased profits, but we don’t always help employees make the connection between selling a maintenance agreement today and receiving the new truck at the end of the year or a bonus.
And perhaps the biggest reason to change your perspective about showing appreciation to your employees is that you personally benefit. According to an article by Alex Korb, PhD., who writes for Psychology Today, researchers have discovered a cycle of gratitude or appreciation caused by how our brains react to stimuli. When you show gratitude or appreciation to someone, your brain releases dopamine, an organic chemical. Dopamine serves as a neurotransmitter that helps to control the brain’s reward and pleasure center. Once, you show gratitude or appreciation, even more dopamine is released and the cycle continues. When you start seeing things to be grateful for, your brain starts looking for even more things to be grateful for.
So my New Year’s Wish for each of you is a new perspective that focuses on gratitude and appreciation.