Dan Pink does a fantastic job in explaining some key science around incentives and motivation. This ties into the four drive model – showcasing the fact that we don’t leverage people’s motivation by money alone. Watch and enjoy.
I received a hand written thank you note for a project I did a few months ago. It was not only a pleasant surprise, but one that has maintained some impact after several months. I’m of the age that when I first started in work, we used to give recognition through hand written cards and notes on a regular (ok, maybe not so regular) basis. With the advent of e-mail and electronic forms of communication, the hand written thank you has gone the way of the pay phone – not quite dead, but pretty close.
There is something very special about a letter or note or thank you that is written by hand. It has a lot of stickiness in today’s electronic world – it stands out from the crowd. It also provides a sense of real appreciation – one that has taken a little bit of extra effort to do.
We did work with a large med device company this spring in which we interviewed a number of their sales people. These people were very highly compensated, had significant incentive earning opportunities, and fantastic recognition programs (valued at $10,000s of dollars). What struck me, was the impact that one VP of Sales had by writing hand written letters of appreciation to his top performers. One sales person went so far as to frame the letter and had it hanging in his office (note – he did not have the plaques or other awards that he earned up in his office). These letters had a greater recognition value and motivational impact than some programs that cost millions of dollars to the company.
So please excuse me, I’m going to go write a few thank you’s by hand.
We all have a drive to bond. The desire to form meaningful, positive relationships with those around us. Research shows that this drive is one of the strongest motivators that we have as humans (see Baumeister & Leary, 1995; Lawrence and Nohria, 2002). Think of the impact that this strong human drive could have on business performance if harnessed? Think of the extra effort that you exert for your friends when they are in need – now apply that extra effort to a business.
The problem is that businesses typically see bonding only as something done in a team building session for an afternoon at the National Sales Meeting. Or worse, that bonding is idle chit-chat that steals company time and resources. How many organizations have you seen with policies regarding time spent away from the desk, on the internet, or using social media at work? Think about those companies that have strict policies regarding office fraternizing or dating. Or think of the norms that have been established about not mingling with your employees or being their friends after work. All of this is wrong!
Now I understand that there are reasons for these policies (legal issues, productivity lost, sandbaggers, etc.). The fact is, these policies inhibit bonding and socializing at work. The fact is, that bonding can be used to help motivate and inspire your workforce to higher productivity, more responsibility, and greater results. The issue is that companies need to pro-actively work on this – and that’s not easy.
There are a number of ways to foster increased bonding. Th first is to remove the roadblocks that inhibit socialization. Examine your policies and procedures to see if they can be eliminated or changed to help people get to know one another without serious loss of productivity. Then focus on creating a culture that encourages bonding and team work. Create opportunities for people to meet and discuss. Foster conversations between groups and levels within the organization. Identify social media tools to help people get to know one another on a more personal basis.
Here are a just a couple of ideas:
- Create a breakfast/lunch topics series – have people give a short presentation on a topic of their interest
- Start a job sharing/learning forum – one of the best ways to form a relationship at work is to help people understand what everyone does and how they do it
- Start each meeting with fast facts – a quick go around about something each person has recently done or is planning on doing
Give us some ideas of yours – we’ll not only post them here, but also on Twitter!
Last Thursday, August 13, I attended the Blogwell conference at General Mills, HQ in Minneapolis, MN. It was my first social media conference and I really did not know what to expect but I was excited to check it out. The afternoon was filled with 8 different social media case studies from a variety of corporations.
From the moment I arrived at the Ridgedale parking lot, to wait for the shuttle that would transport us to General Mills, I was observing my fellow conference mates. I was fascinated from the cross section of people that were waiting in line for the shuttle. The demographic spread was pretty cool; young, old, male, female, purple, green, small business, Fortune 500, and pierced. The variety of individuals on the van was pretty amazing to witness. This same variety carried over into the larger conference. I was intrigued by the attendees and wondered what does this mean…was social media the catalyst for this gathering of way cool people? My thought – definitely yes!
For the next four hours I would meet some amazing people and I was impressed by how friendly everyone was and how open they were to helping each other out. The wall of pretenses that usually surrounds conference attendees did not seem nearly as prevalent in this crowd. In fact, I sincerely believe that the authenticity of social media was present in this group and maybe that is it. Utilizing the various social media tools fosters authenticity and transparency so it should not have been surprising to me that meeting the real people behind their twitter and blog names were ‘real’ people! They were genuine, sincere, eager to listen, teach, and share their knowledge and expertise.
One of the presentations that I enjoyed the most was Scott Monty from Ford. Ford is one of the top 10 brands utilizing social media. Scott Monty has really paved the way for integrating social media with business processes and communication. He shared a video where he and the CEO, Alan Mulally were utilizing twitter (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaaKNcovfdQ). I really enjoyed this snapshot because it showed a unique collaboration. I smiled when Alan Mulally stated that what has prevented him from twittering is his typing ability so Scott Monty was typing for him so Alan’s, “brain could be unleashed into the world.”
Can you imagine how many other voices are out there that are not sharing their incredible talents because they lack a particular skill? It makes me wonder and it also makes me hopeful that even if we lack a particular skill the drive to learn can be a powerful motivator to help unleash our brains into the world!