Encouragement Leads To Motivation
I reviewed an assessment I took a few years ago based on the book StrengthFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. I reviewed the assessment in connection with a training program I’m taking on internet business. StrengthFinder 2.0, as the name suggests, is designed to help people discover and define their talents. A companion part of the book is an electronic assessment that I’ve found to be helpful in understanding my individual stengths.
Focus On The Strengths
Rath discovered that people have several times more potential for growth when they invest energy in developing their strengths instead of correcting their deficiencies. The assessment identifies your top five themes as defined in the book. One of my five themes is Positivity and in my Action-Planning Guide I was given this feedback:
“You may get your greatest joy by encouraging people. Freely show your appreciation of others, and make sure that the praise is not vague. Consistently seek to translate your feelings into specific, tangible, and personal expressions of gratitude and recognition.”
As soon as I read that statement, I was immediately reminded of a classic book I read several years ago when considering the decision to start my own business. This classic book is How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. You may have already read this book. It is worth reading multiple times and a must read if you want to start a new business.
I was struck by the importance of encouraging one another at work, home and in life. Carnegie gets right into this subject in the first chapter of the book. This also caused me to consider one of the biggest challenges a small business owner faces in the daily operation of their business.
A Big Challenge-Motivation
The biggest challenges I consistently hear from entrepreneurs are employee related. A short list of the common complaints are:
- Lack of motivation
- He doesn’t show up on time
- I have to tell her the same thing every time
- Nobody thinks around here
- He just doesn’t get it
- I don’t see the personal commitment
- They don’t want to work hard
In any business, the people problems can be the hardest to tackle. They are often complex problems because people are complex. The challenges amplify as the business grows. The “people problems” in business are not only relational, they are financial.
Every business will go through these challenges at one time or another. But what is the best way to deal with them? What is the best strategy? More importantly, what is a possible cause? As I thought about it, I was brought back to the Carnegie’s book for a little Old School Business Advice.
What Not To Do
In Chapter 1, the opening quote is:
“IF YOU WANT TO GATHER HONEY, DON’T KICK OVER THE BEEHIVE”
Tip #1-stop kicking the beehive! Stay with me it gets better.
There are a number of help quotes that I immediately underlined when I first read the book. They give us some insight into the possible cause and solution to employee motivational issues.
Let’s take a look at a few.
“By criticizing, we do not make lasting changes and often incur resentment.”-Dale Carnegie
“As much as we thirst for approval, we dread condemnation”-Hans Style, Psychologist
“The resentment that criticism engenders can demoralize employees, family members and friends and still not correct the situation that has been condemned.” –Dale Carnegie
“Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism: and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness.”-Dale Carnegie
“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.“-Charles Schwab
“There is nothing else that so kills ambition of a person as criticisms from superiors. I never criticize anyone. I believe in giving a person incentive to work. So I am anxious to praise but loath to find fault. If like anything, I am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise.”-Charles Schwab
“I have yet to find the person, however great or exalted his situation, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than he would ever do under a spirit of criticism.“-Charles Schwab
Right on Chuck!
What Should We Consider Doing
If you are finding a general lack of motivation and drive from your employees there might be an issue with communication from the top. Consider finding out how they would assess the feedback they receive. Charles Schwab advises us to “not criticize anyone”. That is pretty clear and not much room for interpretation. Any time some uses words like “never” or “always” I become a bit skeptical but I’m open to new ideas.
Like most things, a balanced approach is often the best. Let’s pull some guidance out of my action item from StrengthFinders 2.0 to create a balanced model for employee feedback. Here is a simple 4 Step Model.
4 Step Model For Employee Encouragement and Feedback
Based on my experience, lack of any feedback is usually the issue and not excessive criticism.
- Be intentional about providing feedback-“Just Do It”
- Freely show your appreciation.
- Make sure that the praise is not vague
- Be specific, tangible, and personal in expressions of gratitude and recognition
“Hey, by the way, you did a great job on the bridge project. The design you came up with was innovative and saved the client $50,000. Keep it up! You are a great addition to the firm”
I would bet the person who receives that level of encouragement and recognition will work harder, faster and smarter. Encouragement is the rock fuel for employee motivation. Pour it on!