It is unanimously accepted in effective employee motivation space that managers who positively reinforce their employees drive high levels of engagement. Unfortunately, much of the positive feedback employees receive is simply recognition for a job well done. While recognition has its place in the workplace, appreciation has much greater impact on job performance. Our country’s favorite pastime can show us the potential in such an approach.
Notice when a pitcher comes off the mound after striking out the side. He runs off the mound into the dugout where high 5’s and pats on the back await him. This is recognition.
Notice what happens when the pitcher gives up an extra base hit, loads the bases with walks or hits a couple batters in a row. The manager slowly strides to the mound while thousands of fans boo the pitcher who slowly walks off the field and takes a seat on the end of bench.
Baseball culture dictates that no one immediately talks to a pitcher just taken out of the game. Teammates realize the pitcher needs time to decompress and process an obvious tense situation. Any acknowledgement of the pitcher would communicate recognition of bad performance.
Think about how powerful an opposite approach could bring. What if the manager after putting a new pitcher in the game, returns to the dugout, puts his arm around the departed pitcher and says. “I know you had a bad outing. I still have confidence in you. I am going to keep you in the rotation. We are going to go back to the practice field and work on the things we need to get better. I have your back. We all have our good and bad days. Remember, we are in this together.” This is appreciation-when your manager appreciates you even when you fail.
Think about the last time you made a mistake on the job. You probably got chewed out or made to feel disengaged by your manager with the tone of I caught you doing something wrong.
Imagine how our workplaces could change if leadership walked around and caught employees doing something right.
Sometimes we don’t achieve greatness. That does not mean we can’t be great. We just need appreciative leaders who can pull it out of us because the greatness is already there.
Photo by Flickr user Peter Miller
“Sometimes we don’t achieve greatness. That does not mean we can’t be great. We just need appreciative leaders who can pull it out of us because the greatness is already there.” Very powerful and inspiring words! I agree. A little appreciation can go a long way. Great piece, Richard!
Great post, Richard. I just finished reading the book, “Mindset” by Carol Dweck where she discusses the difference between people with fixed and growth mindsets. The fixed mindset folks consider these moments as failure. People with a growth perspective see them as learning opportunities. Managers that can frame every situation as a growth or learning opportunity (and teach / coach their employees to habitually see it that way) will get the best out of their teams.