At the risk of giving the impression that I’m a terrible driver, I would like to tell you about two very different encounters I have had with traffic cops. One afternoon after flying back from a presentation, I found my car in the parking lot and then I hit the road, excited to be close to home. No sooner had I merged into traffic on the highway when I heard a siren behind me.
“Do you realize you went through a stop sign?” asked the officer. I did not. In fact, I had thought it was a yield sign, like most on-ramps. While I was contrite, I was also curious as to why this particular on-ramp was designed this way. The officer showed no interest in engaging in conversation and handed me a ticket for failure to stop.
Many months later, a siren blared after I turned into a neighborhood from a busy road. The officer approached my car, looked at my license, and peered into the backseat where my two young children looked wide-eyed back at him.
“Mrs. Snyder,” he said firmly but empathetically, “I am concerned. You pulled very quickly into this neighborhood. You were exceeding the speed limit. What if you hit a child? It would ruin your life and the family of that child.” That message hit home. Even though my kids are now adults, to this day, I always slow down when I enter a neighborhood. That officer’s words still have an impact on me, these many years later.
Both of the officers used their power to pull me over, but only one used his influence to effect a positive, lasting change.
My question to you, as a leader, is this: Do you use your power effectively? Do you use your influence to effect a positive and lasting change?
When we fear someone, we do what they want us to do, quickly and in the moment – and when they are watching. But when we work with leaders who are influential and take the time and effort to connect with us, we take their direction to heart – even when they aren’t watching.
In fact, being a leader is something like being a traffic officer. You keep a watchful eye and you pull people over when you are concerned about their behavior. It is what you do next that determines if your employee will incorporate your direction into their work habits, or simply comply in the moment because it’s the path of least resistance.
If you’re having difficulty achieving lasting compliance, maybe it’s time to revisit your strategy – and we can help you do that.
Give us a call to learn more about our consultations and workshops.
I hope that you are enjoying our blog. If you have a business topic that you would like me to write about, I’d love to hear from you.
You remember the cheer. You remember the thunderous applause at high school games.
I’ve always known how important appreciation is. I often do appreciation exercises in my programs. Recently, I learned all over again how effective and meaningful appreciation can be. I asked the participants to bring a gift (of little or no monetary value) affirming that a colleague’s strengths.
A law enforcement officer received a toy gun with a heart inside. This man had clearly shown that underneath his uniform and toughness was a caring man.
A woman who never takes lunch was presented with a lunch box to keep on her desk. Inside was an alarm clock, set for lunchtime, with this message:
“Taking a break will increase your productivity. Enjoy!”
Another participant with a clear gift for mentoring employees was given a pretend tool box and Play Dough. The message said, “Thanks for helping to mold our future leaders.”
Genuine appreciation comes in all forms. A handshake. A hug. A thank you. A letter of praise. A symbolic gift. A chant at a ball game. The form doesn’t matter. Genuine appreciation changes lives.
If you appreciate someone, don’t wait for an excuse to show it. It may be a while before you can schedule that class with me.
2, 4, 6, 8…
Who do you appreciate?
Yesterday, I was meeting with a senior manager – we’ll call him Saresh – and he was telling me about a problem he had with one of his employees, Chris. Saresh told me that Chris hadn’t been sharing information with the team.
Saresh also told me about a number of other small problems dating back months and years…As we talked I realized that there weren’t a few problems, but a lot of issues; and they weren’t small, some were rather big and impactful.
When I asked Saresh how Chris handled it when he gave him feedback, Saresh said that he hadn’t given much feedback. Saresh felt it was always better to give positive feedback, so he never commented on the things that were going wrong. Not surprisingly, the behavior and problems continued.
We talked about how important it was for Saresh to sit down with Chris and address the issues. He agreed to do just that, but I had forgotten to tell Saresh, “Just a few at a time. Don’t overwhelm.”
So, Saresh sat with Chris and he noted a lot of the problems – some dating back as far as two years prior. This, as you can imagine, led to a complete overload of information.
What went wrong?
Think of how a body needs to be nourished. We need healthy foods day in and day out. Our bodies benefit from moderation and consistency.
Feedback is just the same. Many employees are literally starving for feedback. They want the positive feedback, we can think of it as the dessert, and they also want the feedback that will help them grow, perhaps the veggies. Employees benefit from consistent feedback in small doses, just enough to ‘digest’. This is the type of feedback that they can apply to make changes and streamline and improve practices.
An overload of feedback in one sitting is like Thanksgiving dinner at my mother’s house. My body becomes overloaded and sluggish.
Have you even been overloaded or starved for feedback?