“Ask yourself: ‘Can I give more?’ The answer is usually: ‘Yes’.”
A Balance of Information Gathering and Praise
Being visible is powerful. The very act of being out-and-about provides the leader unique, very often informal, but accurate, insight into what is occurring in her organization. People often refer to the “pulse of the organization,” and there is no better way to get the “pulse” than by simply walking around, identifying what is being accomplished, interacting with people, and gathering information. In schools, this means that the leader is in hallways, classrooms, and common spaces, not the office. In most other organizations, this means that the leader is as close to the worker as possible, on the production floor for example.
Management by Walking Around (MBWA) is an effective strategy that has withstood the test of time. This notion of simple unstructured visits provides the leader with powerful insights into the organization (Peters & Waterman, 1982). Beyond what the leader can gather from these visits, it also is an opportunity, as Blanchard tells us in his The One-Minute Manager, to give one-minute of praise.
The two ideas—walking around to be visible as the leader and one-minute praise—merge with powerful results. It’s not only what the leader can gain from the visits, its also what the leader can give. This requires the leader to be present. In a simple and great book, How Full is Your Bucket?, the authors Clifton and Rath champion the notion of using daily interactions to boost your people. They eloquently weave the work of Daniel Kahnemann and John Gottman together, basically acknowledging the profound opportunity to use our individual interactions to create positive connections that ultimately lead to a more productive work environment (Rath & Clifton, 2004).
According to Kahnemann, we have 20,000 “individual moments” in a day, most of which we never remember. However, we do recall, and are affected by, the positivity or negativity of these moments. This combined with the research of Gottman, who simply says that individuals need a ratio of 5:1 positive to negative interactions in order to have well-balanced productive relationships, gives leaders a clear prescription for boosting morale and productivity at the same time.
Three Leadership Strategies to Try this Month:
#1: Combine a proven management strategy, MBWA, with an opportunity to praise.
Be exact with your praise. Praise efforts that deserve recognition and that are moving the organization closer to reaching its goals. Don’t just praise to praise; that doesn’t work. Avoid simply being personable with a cheery disposition; while that might help with relationships, it isn’t specific enough to lift morale or increase productivity.
#2: Catch your employees doing something well.
Alter your mindset as the leader to find and recognize the good. Don’t just leave people with what they should be doing better, although that helps to improve effectiveness, also find what’s working and point that out. We’re not advocating for a “culture of nice,” we’re simply saying that there’s a fine balance between recommendations and praise.
#3: Ask employees to let you know something he or a colleague is doing well that needs to be noticed.
Bring these up later in larger groups to recognize specific efforts that are moving the organization closer to its goals.
TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple and maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.
Let us know if these strategies work for you.
Peters, T. J., & Waterman, R. H. (1982). In search of excellence: Lessons from America’s best companies. New York: Harper & Row.
Blanchard, K. H., & Johnson, S. (1982). The one-minute manager. New York: Morrow.
Rath, T., & Clifton, D. O. (2004). How full is your bucket?: Positive strategies for work and life. New York: Gallup Press.