“Yep” the cashier said after I said thank you. He then switched eye contact to the next customer and started ringing up their purchases. I picked up my bags and walked away thinking “I just spent close to $200 and didn’t even get a thank you or acknowledgement of bringing business to his store – even after I said thank you to him. A simple “thank you” or “you’re welcome” would have left me with an ok customer service encounter. Instead I left thinking where else I could spend my money. At first my inclination was to think “what’s happening to customer service today? Is it this new generation?
Where does poor customer service start?
But then I started wondering what his boss says when he does something good? In my experience – It’s probably not even a “yep.” Most employees get little to no feedback for the work they do…unless they do something wrong that catches someone’s attention. I heard Ken Blanchard describe this as the seagull method of management. Managers circle around overhead oblivious until someone does something wrong – then they swoop down to crap on them. Think about your past bosses? How often did they give you positive feedback for the work you did? What was the ratio between critical and positive comments?
There’s an old cliché “treat your team members like you want them to treat your very best customer.” Most of us would agree with the concept, but it rarely happens. Gallup’s research found that fewer than one in three American workers feel they’ve been praised for work well done in the last seven days.
Catch them doing things right!
I was encouraging a client to be purposeful about catching team members doing something good and then giving positive feedback, She replied. “but, they haven’t reached their goals yet!” I replied– “have they done anything in the right direction?” “Yes, of course” she replied. That’s the key – if we can catch people doing something leading in the right direction, we should let them know. Praised behavior get’s repeated and leads towards goal accomplishment. Ignored positive behavior fades away over time – after all, it must not be important if no one notices right?
For praise to be effective, it must be sincere, heartfelt, and specific. Just saying good job everyday won’t have much effect. And – if it’s not sincere, people will read right through you. Instead look for a something positive, point out the specific behavior and how it contributes to the company mission and goals and thank them. Like “Hey, June I overheard that conversation with that frustrated client. Great job! You were really patient with him and let him vent. I know that’s not always easy. I appreciate what you do for our customers and our team!”
Make it a habit.
It’s not complicated. The biggest challenge is developing the consistency of observing people in action and setting aside a few minutes each week to individually praise each member of your team for their specific contribution. For some people this will be natural, but for others of us we get so bogged down in other aspects of our job we lose track of what our team is doing (unless something goes wrong). So put this on your schedule or create a spreadsheet to ensure everyone on the team gets a bit of praise this week.
Interested in learning more about Gallup’s research on this? Read their article “In Praise of Praising Your Employees.”
Sir Richard Branson often says “Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your business. It’s as simple as that.”
Want loyal clients? Build loyal teams.
I’d love to get your thoughts. What does effective praise mean to you? Do you think it makes a difference? Please comment below.