There’s a line of thought out there that if you want happy employees all that you need to do is pay them well and give them a little positive reinforcement. The ol’ atta’ boy, good job, great work or a high five. Only problem with this thinking, it’s just not true.
If you want to raise the performance bar in your world, you need to actually engage your employees. Try talking to them. Ask them questions about what’s working, why, and how did they do it? Spend a little more time with them. Doesn’t have to be a lot. Try connecting with your employees as people first, and employees second. In fact, the consulting group Aubrey Daniels International tells us it’s as quick as a three minute meeting. Three minutes! That’s it. It doesn’t take much. It just takes some thought and some effort.
Positive reinforcement is about making your employees feel empowered. It’s about asking them how they successfully navigated a project. It’s sharing that information with others and its about being consistent in your actions. The beauty of the three minute meetings that it happens every day. If done correctly, you won’t have to hold hour long sessions waiting for your employee to unload on you.
In this meeting you can gain insight into what’s working and what’s not and you can help employees self-correct. You have an opportunity to provide them with immediate and certain reinforcement. It’s not a reward that is dependent on an “if.” If we hit our targets…if we make our budget. This is abut providing immediate interpersonal satisfaction. It’s about creating a space where employees self-actualize. You teach them to see what’s working and why. If done well, you suddenly have people raising the bar on their own.
The alternative to this approach? We all do it … we rush from meeting to meeting. We go frantically running through the office, only to approach someone with a need or a reprimand. If you don’t think that’s you, watch and see how your employees or colleagues react when you step out of your office door. Are they heads down and avoiding eye contact? If so, you have some work to do.
If you’re only engaging your employees when something has gone wrong, or want something from them, then you need to find a new style.
If your only form of positive reinforcement is offering a congrats and a bonus at the end of the year, you really need to rethink your approach.