Sunday, February 18, 2007

Support From The Field

There was one of those cute graphs in the recent USA Today "Snapshots" space that caught my eye even though my own kids are, chronologically at least, well past adulthood.

The subject of the chart was to show the percentage of children who are praised at least three times a day by their mother or father, and as Richard Dawson would say "and the survey said":

Under age 6 - 72%
6-11 - 51%
12-17 - 37%
There were a couple of things that struck me about this when I saw it other than my initial reaction of hoping that it wasn't my tax dollars that helped to fund the study, however, those hopes were dashed when I read the fine print and discovered that the source of the data came via the Census Bureau's "A Child's Day" report.

Okay, so I lost that one, but I could not help thinking as I kept looking over the stats that I would have felt much better had the numbers been reversed. Don't we all care more about positive reinforcement as we get older? Don't we feel the need more as we go through life, or is it the macho thing that since we're "grown up" we don't need that "stuff" that is really for kids?

I certainly don't mean to make a federal case out of this (no pun intended) but it just seems to me that most of the management gurus tell us as senior executives to "try and find something good" even though most of the time it feels like we're being paid to manage the "bad." Yet, if you look down he lists of the "to do's" in terms of what they say a manager should be doing, recognition is always very high on the list.

Kent Blumberg whose blog is almost totally devoted to the subject of leadership, recently had a post in which he suggested readers check out the story that Michael McKinney used on his blog to drive home the importance of providing support and encouragement rather than always feeling like the job is to point out how something could or should be better.

We talk a great deal in this country about our ability to compete on the global stage going forward as well as the fact that technology will only continue to drive productivity for so long. I wonder how much we lose in productivity, creativity, and motivation because of what seems to be a focus on pointing out mistakes.

I would guess that we have all seen the commercial featuring Peyton Manning in which one person after another is making a mistake or has some accident befall them, yet he just keeps trying to find a positive. The last scene shows him standing in front of his house with a cup of coffee in his hand as the paper boy comes roaring by on his bike and lets fly with the morning paper which promptly goes through the window with a crash. Peyton says something like "It's okay Jimmy, you still have the strongest arm in the neighborhood!"

We need to keep encouraging our Jimmies and well beyond when they are 17.

1 comment:

fjohn said...

Sometimes in my career, I'd have just be happy if my Leadership didn't "demotivate" my team with some hairbrained new idea, craze, program, or process. I swore sometimes that the finance, hr, or other bozo groups would conspire to unwind all the team building, rapport establishment, and espirit de corps I had done. Once in particular, I remember a "special market adjustment" that had my team of over a hundred engineers in 31 states either redlined from future raises, held the same, or getting a 50% raise. It took two days for every single one to know exactly what had happened and who got what. We never did get it straightened out. I took a golden handshake and bailed. I know they lost many those engineers to other competitors. So, leadership go easy on the leading! Especially without consultation on those being led. Remember 100% of your brains walks out of the building at quitting time. ;-)