When Alan sat down in his chair in my management training course on recognition, his body language told me he was going to be a tough man to convince of the value of acknowledging employee contributions.
The arguments he would offer were already whispering in my ear. “Why should I recognize them? They get paid to do their job.” “I’ve been on the receiving end of recognition. I have plaques, certificates, t-shirts, and pins. They’re all meaningless.” “I have enough to do already. You can’t expect me to add something else to my list.”
But Alan was there for the day. He had to be. His company was requiring all of its managers to attend. That didn’t mean that he had to like it, and it didn’t mean that he couldn’t try to sway everyone to his way of thinking. After all, some of his employees had been with him for over 10 years. If they were that unhappy they would have left by now. Alan told us, “This touchy feely stuff might work for some managers, but it is just not my style.”
By the end of the day Alan wasn’t arguing any longer, but I wasn’t sure that meant he agreed. Maybe he just got tired. I figured I would never know for sure if the workshop or the testimonials of his fellow managers on the value of recognition had any impact on him. I hoped that he would do things just a little differently from then on.
Fast forward one month. I am having a conversation with a friend and the subject turns to recognition. “Oh, I have a story for you!” she says. This story has come through the grapevine. One friend told another, my friend has heard it, and now she is telling me.
It seems that this woman, a secretary for a medium-sized company (one that was very familiar to me) was ecstatic about the recognition she had recently received. She had worked with the same guy for 10 years. He was tough to work for, but the job was a good one. That was not what she was excited about, however. It was that after 10 years for the first time ever, her boss, Alan, had thanked her for the job she did. He told her that she made the department run smoothly, that without her, his job would be many times harder.
Alan had taken a risk. He did something he had never done before. The result was that his secretary wasn’t just pleased to be acknowledged, she was bubbling over with her own gratitude. Do you think he has any idea what a difference he made?
Copyright 2005 Cindy Ventrice