Thursday, June 17, 2010

Positive Attention, Respect and Productivity

"The simple act of paying positive attention to people
has a great deal to do with productivity."

-- Thomas J Peters & Robert H Waterman, Jr.

"If you have some respect for people as they are, you can be more
effective in helping them to become better than they are."

-- John W Gardner
It is amazing what a difference positive attention is to people who you might work with. The difference is everything to me and I have proven the premise over and over again as a long-time manager of sales teams.
It is interesting to watch some managers and how they try to manipulate people rather than encourage them. It reminds me of an angry mother who is punishing her children because they are behaving like children. Some managers will force excessive training meetings because they need the training, but that rarely, if ever, produces the results desired originally. Having people on opposite shifts come in to do training, then go back home, then come to work is more along the lines of discouragement, than encouragement. The focus is all on what they are doing wrong and the fact that they need to do it right and so "we will train them and train them and train them until they get it!" Dream on. They aren't the ones who need to get it.
We have to have more respect for people than this. Just because we hired them and they needed a job, doesn't give us the right to treat them poorly. Here's a different and better perspective: If there is a long-term failing person on your staff, it is the fault of the one who hired them, not the employee. One of the best things I've ever learned is this: The purpose of training is to find out who you have. Think about that fully. It is powerfully true.
Finding the right people--the best fit for the whole organization, is the best objective. So many times, I see companies hire someone who is never getting any better. That's not human nature, that's something entirely different. They're doing it because they need the job, or they're bored, or something else, but it surely isn't because they love their job. They would grow if that were the case.
And just because someone has been held over year after year, doesn't make them a valuable employee. If it is determined they don't fit well, I'm confident this won't change any time soon, so the best thing is to find a suitable replacement--and see what can be done to help the less than valuable employee find work elsewhere. If you kept them around failing, accept some responsibility of helping them find as smooth a transition to gainful employment elsewhere as you can.
When I hear managers talking about how bad their employees are and do nothing about it except complain or keep trying to "train it into them," it makes me ill. It is the management, not the employee in every case I can think of. I've been at fault myself. That's how I learned.
Treating people with respect is just as much a factor in an employer and employee relationship as any other, and it should be obvious how this positive attention is a natural at increasing and solidifying productivity.

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