Tim, head machine tender for a paper mill in northern Ontario, Canada, told Session 7B of the Leadership Development Lab:
"Three weeks ago I approached the backtender on Paper Machine #5 and asked him to wash the floor in his area at the end of the shift. I told him that this was part of our departments' combined effort to keep cleaner work areas. His response was quite negative, he complained and vented, questioning how clean work areas were supposed to help improve anything in the way of production or quality. He went on to say that this was stupid.
I allowed him to vent, I listened to his frustration. I let him get it all off his chest. Then I told him that I understood how he could feel this way. I reminded him of how it feels when we come in at the beginning of a shift, when the person we relieved has cleaned the backtenders' booth. It's neat, clean, and smells good, and the rest of the work area and floors are clean. It gives us a 'fresh start' feeling and seems to give us a boost to begin our day. He reluctantly shrugged his shoulders in agreement, but I could see that this wasn't going to give him the incentive, or entirely convince him that this job was all that important.
Then I remembered our Turbo training and how the use of praise could help a person feel better about things and change their perspective. I thought of how George has always been a very hard worker, so I decided to give praise a try. I told him, 'George, you have always been
a really hard worker one of our best. We have always been able to depend on that, and this is something I appreciate about you. You know, it would only take two minutes for you to wash the floor with the water hose and it would really help give your relief coming in a boost and help him start his day off right.'
I remember how I was almost taken aback at the expression on his face. It changed from a frown to a look of pride at the very moment I acknowledged and praised him about his hard work ethic. It was truly amazing to watch his demeanor change right there before my eyes. He agreed to do the clean-up and even seemed to be happy to do it! Since that day, George has continued to perform this task at the end of every shift. The only time I've ever spoken to him about it again, was to thank him for a job well done.
The lesson I learned from this experience is how powerful genuine praise can be to help change a person's negative perspective or attitude into a positive one. The action I call you to take is to use meaningful and genuine praise to help change negative attitudes. Caution don't wear it out by using the same words until they become empty gestures. Be genuine with your praise, or don't use it.
The benefit you will gain is positive attitudes, support and backing for your goals. You will develop a team approach along with dedication and buy-in from your crew."