The Learning Spotlight
Running on Empty?
By John Grubbs
Leslie leaves her job after 18 years for another that pays about the same amount of money. Raymond leaves his new job of six months for another job that pays 25 cents an hour more with a longer commute. Sarah is looking for a job in another field because she is tired of all the negativity at her current firm. What do these three have in common? They all did not feel appreciated at work.
What motivates us on the job? How can we get the most from our employees? Appreciation is the number one motivator above money, interesting work and promotions. Is that hard to believe? It’s true, we have a critical need to be appreciated on the job and too many leaders simply won’t or don’t know how to show sincere appreciation at work.
Being appreciated helps replenish the internal drive we have to self-actualize at work. The competitive need to be successful exists in all of us to varying degrees. From the insatiable to the content, we still need to hear that we are making a difference even if it is in the smallest of details.
The worst of human offenders have the mindset that a “paycheck” is thanks enough for the work we provide for our employers. This myopic view of the human condition cannot see the vast amounts of productivity that is simply left on the table daily. Great leaders understand that sincere appreciation provides the energy we need to exert greater effort constantly. This energy can prevent us from taking the “path of least resistance” daily on the job.
As humans we have a “sixth sense” when it comes to sincerity. We are very good at discerning the sincere from the insincere. Insincerity has little effect on our energy and can eventually lead to mistrust. If we detect the slightest hint of insincerity in someone’s appreciation, it is worthless to us.
A key component for our success is a boss that notices the little things we provide the organization daily. From a little extra effort on a project to the deliberate effort to be on-time each day, we are all capable of doing more when we “want” to. When taken for granted our desire to give starts to deteriorate. This deterioration can be very incremental or very sudden depending on the individual. Many of us were taught as children to “work
hard” and we have a difficult time limiting our output. However, the energy to keep giving will eventually subside in all of us over time. This condition leads to discontentment and we eventually become unhappy with our work.
Great leaders understand that they must make constant and deliberate investments in the energy of those they are blessed enough to lead. These simple remarks (when given with sincerity) can provide an amazing amount of fuel for our effort on the job. While we do not all burn the fuel at the same rate, we all need the fuel just the same. Some of us burn the fuel that provides energy at a higher rate and need more feedback and appreciation while others use and need less.
People must be taught, then held accountable for giving sincere feedback. There are clear skills that anyone can learn then choose to utilize. A most dangerous assumption is that we already know how to deliver proper feedback. The truth is that many people have never been shown the “How To” and “Not To” of delivering feedback. This condition is starving many organizations of the very fuel they need to energize their organizational engines.
This sputtering and gasping limits performance and costs organizations dearly.
Consider your own environment for a moment. Do you really feel appreciated at work? Do people notice your hard work and extra effort? Have you stopped going that “extra mile” because nobody seems to care? Imagine the lost potential and the millions of dollars that are simply wasted because of the under appreciated among us in the workplace today.
At GCI, we are in the culture business and there are some key points that we have learned regarding measuring and quantifying a safety culture. While many attempts have been made to truly measure a culture, they are all burdened with suspicions of subjectivity and inaccuracy.
Utilizing common metrics such as incident rates and other “trailing” indicators can be misleading and often confusing when it comes to truly analyzing your culture. We have found that the most accurate and yet also subjective measures come from the smallest of details that can be observed during casual inspections and comments made during training sessions.
Quantification of culture is analogous to measuring love, we know it exists through the little things (the hug of a child) yet it is hard to measure. In the same way, perception surveys are commonly utilized to “attempt” to measure culture and can offer valuable information for the organization. However, they are often a reflection of the current moment and still represent a “snapshot” in time. Too much reliance on surveys can often skew the data to
gain the trends we want to hear. Our children may show more affection on their birthday than on the day they are experiencing some form of discipline. These are merely symptoms of what is going on in the current moment. Hopefully the emotion of love remains no matter how the singular moment presents itself.
Working with employees on the front-lines to determine a relative snapshot for values is the only methodology to determine the change in culture. It is a slow and iterative process that can be gained over time. When safety becomes a value, employees start to live by the value and are quick to make comments to validate the status of safety for the team.
We work with companies to help them determine where they are through current actions (like wearing a seatbelt on a forklift or general housekeeping) and then offer objective support to make incremental improvements over time. Too often culture change is much like watching a child grow. We you are immersed in the culture daily, it is hard to see the growth. Yet those that only see the child occasionally can see dramatic change. Our company works with very large and
small organizations alike to help benchmark safety culture growth.
Our one-day safety leadership course clarifies these perceptions with much greater detail. We would love to support your challenge to define, develop or grow your existing safety culture, as it is what we do best.
Call us today!