Praise always pays
Arlen, a battery distribution center warehouse manager, told our Leadership Development Lab (LDL):
“About six months ago, Mike, one of our warehousemen, transferred from our southeast location to our Beaverton warehouse. He was accustomed to a very slow paced environment compared to what he was going to be experiencing at our location. You could say he had a habit of moving at about 30% of our pace and seemed to like it that way. He had definitely become a product of his former working environment. (We are all, to some degree, products of our surroundings. We naturally acclimate and conform to our surroundings.) He showed up at our Beaverton warehouse with the attitude that all he had to do was phone our customers for orders and do the computer work. I explained to him that in addition to phone customers for orders and entering the orders into the computer in the morning, he would also be pulling orders in the afternoon. Pulling orders is a part of the job Mike had not anticipated being responsible for, and it involves a lot of manual labor. He developed and displayed a bad attitude immediately and, of course, his bad attitude was influencing other employees in a negative way. I tried several ways to get through to him, but he was not receptive. He was not happy with his new added workload and everyone at our location was made aware of it.
“Then on a Monday in early December, we had an exceptionally busy day. We sold and shipped over 2,400 batteries that day and everyone had to pitch in. Mike worked like I’ve never seen him work before. He
pushed himself all day long. He set the tone, the pace, the tempo for everyone else to follow. I got to work extra early the next morning and wrote a note of appreciation to our entire crew. I told them what a great job they had done. I thanked them all profusely and on the bottom of the memo, I wrote a special thanks to Mike for being the instrumental pace-setter person. I told him he was the person who set the pace and helped guarantee our success. I hung the note on the time clock for everyone to see. Believe me, you could not miss it! That was a turning point for Mike in both attitude and production. He has changed dramatically and, I believe, permanently.
“The lesson I learned from this experience is the power of praising people and publicly posting praise for peak performance.
“The action I call you to take is when someone does a job well, tell them, and tell them in front of other team members. Put it in writing and post your praise for everyone to see.
“The benefit you will gain is increased employee pride, and an incentive for others to go the extra mile so that they will gain the recognition we all seek and enjoy.”
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