A lot of pretentious nonsense is talked and written about “motivation” and there are many motivational speakers who travel the world, giving strung-out executives a quick fix of “feelgood” which then dissipates just in time for a subsequent seminar and the next fix….and so on. It has become a huge industry but related more to entertainment than to personal development.
Whenever I train executives, the motivational advice which I give them is disarmingly simple but devastatingly effective. So for a moment let’s forget Maslow, Hertzberg and the rest of the showbiz that is “The Motivation Industry”.
I learned this many years ago from an American called Tom Haggai. We met during one of his many motivational gigs and I do believe that he is still travelling and motivating…….and he is very good at it.
The advice is PRAISE YOUR STAFF.
Even when they screw up.
Tom said that he learned that simple lesson when his son came home from school with the MOST appalling grades on his report. In common with the vast majority of parents, Tom berated his son and told him that he was very disappointed in him.
Several months later, his son came back with even worse grades and of course, Tom went through the same routine and really expressed his displeasure at the boy’s continued under-performance.
One day, Tom was talking to a friend about the problems he was having with his son’s terrible grades and how there didn’t seem to be a way to make him work. His friend listened carefully and said: ” You fly around the world motivating top executives and yet you can’t motivate your son? You just criticise him? You can’t motivate your OWN son!?”
Tom thought about this and the next time his son produced his report rather nervously, Tom looked at the grades which by this time were really shocking.
He smiled and said “ Well done, son. You have obviously tried your best. Well done! I’m very pleased and so should you be!”
The boy smiled and hugged his father.
It was not that reaction which surprised the father, but what his son said next: “Thanks, Dad…but I think I can do better.”
From then on, the boy knuckled down and never looked back. It was a miraculous turnaround! He believed that he could do better and he did do better!
If you’re a parent and your young child brings you a piece of paper dripping with paint and there’s water, paint and mess on the kitchen floor, on the table and on the child’s clothes, what do you say?
You look at the coloured chaos on the paper, you smile and you say “Wow…that’s fantastic. Well done! What is it? “
The child tells you that it’s a picture of you…………..but it’s what happens next that is interesting.
In ten minutes, there’s another dripping piece of paper in your hand. This time it’s a car or the cat…… and so on….and so on…….
Soon, you have enough pictures to paper the entire room – and they’re all the result of the child enjoying your praise and attention…..and wanting more.
So, if you want “your people” to over-perform, tell them that they’re GREAT…..and they will be!
There’s yet another related phenomenon which, when used properly and sincerely, is very powerful. The humble COMPLIMENT!
I bet that everyone reading this remembers most if not ALL of the compliments they’ve ever received – even the ones from childhood and I bet that occasionally, you “replay” them in your mind. Why? For TWO reasons. Firstly, we don’t compliment each other enough, so there’s a certain rarity value and secondly, it is the MOST intense psychological experience!
THAT is why you still remember the person who told you that your dress was nice when you were six!
Never forget the power of saying positive things to people.