• geoffashton

A quick motivational tip : just GUESS

About 20 years before the end of the last century I had a conversation with a Barclays branch manager about staff motivation. I asked him what, in his experience, was the single most powerful way of motivating staff. “Saying thank you!” was his reply. I can still remember the look on his face when he said it – a genuine Duchenne smile communicating the power of this personal revelation.

What employees value

Some powerful truths, it seems, never change. In May 2014 Monster UK published an employee survey in which over half of employees reckoned they did not get thanked enough and nearly the same number felt under-appreciated. In an interesting angle, employees on average wanted to be paid an extra £134.00 a month (some £1,600.00 a year) as compensation for never being thanked. Nearly three quarters of the workplaces in the North West complained of a culture of un-appreciation, even worse than London where the figure was 49%.

Now you would have thought this was an easy problem to rectify. Saying thank you, like being polite, presumably costs nothing. Well maybe. You see to be meaningful a thank you needs a little more than the words simply passing your lips. A thanks can become as much of a tick-box exercise as another item on your to-do list. Leadership Coach Tony Stolzfus gives a handy acronym for turning a mechanical “thank you” into a really powerful motivational exercise. GUESS stands for Genuine (mean it) Unequivocal (don’t water it down with buts and maybes) Energising (communicating enthusiasm) Specific (show you can see the tangible results the colleague delivered) and Substantive (value the person as well as the action).

Just how hard is it?

Now in my experience that can take a bit of work. You may have to spend a little time thinking about the value of what someone has done and what it says about them. But that modicum of extra effort is definitely worthwhile. Commenting on Monster’s research Corinne Sweet, organisational behaviour psychologist, explained: “Saying ‘thank you’ is priceless at work, as employees would rather receive appreciation than extra cash. This is because ‘thanks’ is a positive reinforcement of hard effort and productivity, in behavioural terms.”

But let’s not stop at the economic argument. Thinking creatively how to value people promotes the kind of community that people generally want to be a part of. Sure they’ll be more productive at work. More than that you will be helping them become more rounded and fulfilled human beings, and that will rub off on people beyond the work place.

Coaching in action

Start now! think about someone whose day you can make with a considered and heart-felt thank you! It will do you both the power of good.

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