Monday, June 28, 2010

Drive By Management

Has something like this happened to you? You’re at a weekly sales meeting when the Director of Sales steps into the room. “Uh, hi everyone, I want to recognize Ted for his outstanding service to the company,” he mumbles, as he hands Ted an oversized coffee mug emblazoned with the company logo. The beaming Director of Sales ducks out, as the room erupts in confused applause.

Or how about this story a friend shared with me… A terse e-mail from The Boss is sent out department wide, calling for a mandatory meeting in 15 minutes in the conference room. These meetings usually mean somebody’s leaving or some other disaster is looming. Once the department is gathered, The Boss presents a completely deserving (and completely confused) employee with a plaque for outstanding service. Pat on the back, hearty handshake, end of meeting, everybody get back to work.

I call this sort of thing “drive by recognition". I know of a place where there were sporadic bursts of praise from upper management every 6 months or so. The boss would take time at regularly scheduled team meetings to present awards, gifts and cards to employees recognizing their work …for a week or 2. Then the confusing new “tradition” would end as suddenly -and inexplicably- as it started. A few months later the ritual would reappear in a slightly different form. And so on. I don’t know if their management was getting directives that “the employees need recognition, so gosh darn it, get out there and RECOGNIZE!” or what.

I absolutely feel that employees need to be recognized for their service. Sure, at the end of the day everybody works for a paycheck, but knowing you’re appreciated by your employer makes for happier, more productive people at the workplace.

Recognizing career milestones, work-related victories, outstanding performances, or even just “time served” can boost morale and make for a healthier work enviroment.
The trick is to make recognition a part of the company culture, and not a random sneak attack. If management isn’t consistent with recognition, the team will see through any “drive by” efforts to institute it at random. You’d be better off not doing it at all, rather than flying sporadic divebombing runs.

Sincere appreciation of employees on a regular basis is a key to good work atmosphere. It’s got to be a part of how business is done, however, not a band-aid stop gap attempt to boost morale that comes and goes as profits rise or fall.

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