Archives for May 2010

Employee of the Month? No, Employees of the Moment.

by Mike McCarthy An excited employee said, "I told my boss, ‘If I don’t get Employee of the Month this month, I’m going to quit,’ so he gave it to me. Yay!"  What’s wrong with this picture? Two things. First, we should never reinforce people for unproductive behaviors, negative talk, or threats (this will only get us more of the same).    Second, we should set short-term goals or specific actions that will allow the person to earn reinforcement, and to know concretely what to do to earn it. Instead of singling out one "employee of the month," give your small (non-monetary) comments of recognition frequently to "employees of the moment" for their productive work and their positive comments. Give your positive attention when positive actions are demonstrated or goals are achieved – and ONLY then.

Two Tootsie Rolls and a Mint

The phone rang at 7:30 A.M. Michelle, an anxious student, asked: "Should I come today for the qualifying exam? I only got two Tootsie Rolls and a mint from Rachael!" Worldwide Interactive Network Instructor Rachael Caldwell had used a simple but powerful feedback system to help her online students achieve high scores on their Career Readiness Certification tests. As they completed their online study, Rachael neatly printed each student’s name on a small white styrofoam cup, then loaded the cup with small candies for each level achieved each day. Each mint meant they had completed the minimum level of a category; each Tootsie Roll signified one level beyond the minimum requirement. The impression of those personally-packed candies stuck with Michelle and all of Rachael’s other students. Her mint-and-Tootsie Roll feedback system inspired some students to earn higher test scores. Of 19 students, 16 took their qualifying exams and were awarded Career Readiness Certificates, which they will proudly present to prospective employers, setting them a notch above other applicants when hiring decisions are made. Rx for a job: Earn six Tootsie Rolls and call me in the morning!  

When Meetings Go Bad

  Remember Gary Larson’s great cartoon: a jar of mayonnaise in a refrigerator wearing a burglar’s mask and pointing a gun at the other condiments? Its great caption "When mayonnaise goes bad" still makes me chuckle. I watched a meeting "go bad" as the leader and the participants’ positions on a controversial issue became farther and farther apart with each comment that was offered. When this meeting could have produced a "meeting of the minds," what was making it a sour as mayo "gone bad"? The leader had opened with an explanation of an unpopular policy which had been announced but not yet implemented. One by one, attendees succinctly and politely, voiced their respective concerns about the policy. Every comment was answered with "Here’s all the research we did to decide this," "Every other organization does it this way," and other "You just don’t understand" defenses. None of the participants felt as if their ideas were being heard, just met with a counter-punch. Finally, one person stated what he saw happening ("You won’t even consider our ideas. Let’s work it out together rather than you just telling us how life will be). The leader’s answer: "I am listening. I have a … Continue reading