Posted by: Rael Kalley | July 10, 2010

49. It doesn’t take much to get much

My wife is a retired police officer, having spent twenty-five years with the Calgary Police Service. She retired seven years ago and, if you do the math and consider that she was seven when she started, that means she is darn close to forty.

Nine or ten years ago, while she was still a serving member, I happened to be in the building where she worked and as I was riding up in the elevator the doors opened on one of the floors and she stepped in. Just as the door was closing we heard a rather gruff voice yell out to hold the door and a man entered the elevator.

Before I continue with the story I think it is necessary to describe this person. He was about eight feet tall, around four hundred pounds, 0.000001% body fat and looked like he could bench press a 100 car train.

I guess what I’m saying is he looked like a “don’t &$#% with me” kind of dude.

That morning’s TV news had delivered a story of the homicide unit making an arrest in the case of a murder that had been extremely challenging and difficult to solve and had required tremendous skill, dedication and effort on the part of the investigating homicide detectives.

And the giant in the elevator was the head of the homicide unit.

He greeted Gimalle and gave me a look that said “if you even breathe I will turn you into a elevator panel button.”

I wasn’t intimidated. I knew I could take him if I had to, but that’s another story for another time.

Gimalle turned to him and said “I saw the story on the news this morning and I just want you to know how proud I am to work in an organization that has people like you.”

And then she quickly added, “But I’m sure you must hear that all the time?”

Goliath’s eyes started misting up as he looked at Gimalle and, in a soft, choking voice, said, “You know, Gimalle, in thirty years here, this is the first time anyone has ever told me I’m doing a good job. Thank you.”

This story is not only true; it is tragically sad and remarkably common.

In reviewing the thousands of employee surveys my company has conducted over the years and reflecting back on the hundreds of group discussions I have facilitated and the one-on-one chats I have had with countless people from numerous organizations I am stunned by the common theme I hear repeatedly which goes something like this, “Do a hundred things perfectly and nobody says a word to you, do one thing incorrectly and you get to meet the entire management group.”

When Malka, our little shih-tzu-dachshund cross who adopted us some fifteen months ago, was preparing to come and live with us we were given advanced training in puppy parenting by a young animal behaviorist who reminded us that the best way to train her to do what we wanted her to do was to make sure she got a treat every time she did something well. In other words, provide her with recognition for a job well done and she will do it again.

It seems to work well in the puppy world and – this may come as a surprise to some out there – there is a huge, and growing, body of research that tells us this works equally well in the people world.

In fact, the data we have gathered from the more than 5,000 exit interviews we have conducted with people who have quit their jobs strongly show us that the number one reason people move on is because they don’t feel appreciated by their employer.

I have long maintained (and received many beatings for saying) that managers are completely responsible for the non-performance of their errant employees.

If you are a manager of people in the workplace your primary responsibility is this; it is to manipulate the performance of your direct reports (I get beaten even more severely every time I use the word manipulate but a rose by any other name is …).

And the easiest way to do this, the way that requires least effort on your part, is to get out among your folk as Tom Peters and Robert Waterman taught us in their bestseller ‘In Search of Excellence,’ and “catch people doing something right.”

And when you catch them, take a moment to acknowledge the fine job done.

The cost to you? Zero.

The return? Incalculable.

Here’s my brilliant new management theory that my team of highly skilled researchers have been secretly developing in the lab for many years and, having perfected it, are hereby releasing it to the world.

  1. Managers are required, by law, to provide maximum value to their organization.
  2. Manager’s are 100% responsible for the performance of the direct reports.
  3. The best known method of increasing and repeating excellent performance is to provide positive reinforcement for a job well done.
  4. You are a manager.
  5. You don’t go out of your way to find opportunities to provide positive reinforcement.
  6. As a result of (5) above your employees are not performing at maximum capacity.
  7. You are therefore, not delivering maximum value to your organization.
  8. Therefore you are committing a crime, you are breaking the law.

My wife still hangs out with lots of cops who are on the lookout for law breakers.

 You’re going down.

Till we read again.

P.S.  My big sister, Gillian Lockitch, is a lifestyle journalist who writes a fabulous and entertaining blog covering travel, entertainment, theatre, dining, ballroom dancing and other engaging topics that make life so worth living. Gillian is a retired doc who, in addition to a medical degree is also a specialist in pediatrics (you know, the doctors with little patients. Patients/patience, get it? Sorry) and also has a specialty in medical biochemistry and well as a PhD in genetics. We don’t talk about Gillian very much – it’s a little embarrassing having such an under-achiever in the family.

I highly recommend Gillian’s blog for its entertainment value and terrific theatre and restaurant reviews.

You can read, and subscribe (subscription is free and you will receive an email each time Gillian posts a new blog) to Gillian’s blog at www.reviewfromthehouse.com   PLEASE DO

P.P.S. Gimalle and I are having another book signing next week on Saturday, July 17th.  This will be at Chapters in Dalhousie and we will be there from noon till 5pm. If you are close by please drop in and say Hi. At our last book signing Gimalle sold more books than I did. I just want to say how thrilled I am about being beaten by my wife and how much I have enjoyed each reminder of this feat she has provided me with since then. Rael


Responses

  1. This is a perfect example of the repercutions of the choices you make affecting your situation at a later date.
    Last week as usual I received your blog. At that time I decided to put off reading it right away and do so at a later time.
    Well, one thing lead to an other and this morning I decided to read it and discovered that you had a book signing that, not having read your blog when I received it, I did not see the reminder that you included in it. Therefore I sadly did not attend. I dont know if I learned anything by this, but it did confirm that I can be such a jerk somtimes.

    JG


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