Did anybody notice?


Photo by Fanny.b

Last week I attended a lecture (actually more like a Q&A session) with Naomi Simson, CEO of the fast growing online gifting retailer RedBallon. This event was organized by the AGSM MBA ICE (Innovation, commercialisation, entrepreneurship) Club and after briefly describing the story of creating RedBallon, Simson answered many questions of the eager MBAs. One of the questions posed touched the subject of employee engagement. Here is the main part of Simson’s answer:

To create an atmosphere where employees feel engaged, every manager should make sure that every day each employee will give a positive answer to these three questions:

  1. Do I know what am I here to do?
  2. Did anybody notice when I did it?
  3. Did I go home feeling like a winner?

My eyes literally lit up when I heard this answer. This is a simple answer that is so profound, that I think it actually covers most of the important concepts of employee engagement. And mind you, this is a subject managers struggle with every day. Still, instead of talking about the entire answer, I want to concentrate only on part two: “Did anybody notice when I did it?” – I think this is the part most managers forget.

When I was training commanders in the Israeli Air Force one of the classes dealt with how to deliver punishments and give prizes. The basic concept that was taught was as follows: you punish every time somebody deviates from the norm negatively and give a prize once in a while for a positive deviation from the norm.

I disliked this class. I think it misses the most important point. You should recognize people for keeping the norm. This happens all the time. Managers concentrate on trying to “help” the struggling workers. Those who under perform. They think to themselves, hey – that guy who is doing OK doesn’t need me, he is doing OK. So they ignore him and work with the struggling guy. How does that make that make the “OK guy” feel? What is the message that this kind of behaviour sends to him? How does this affect his perception?

What is the problem with this scenario? Not only is the “OK guy” not being recognized, he is also doing OK. OK is not enough. A manager’s job is to make him excel. Average, is not enough. Helping employees excel starts by noticing and letting our employees know that we noticed. This is the basic elements of employee engagement and employee recognition.

So, when did you last made your employees aware that you noticed what they did?


3 Responses to “Did anybody notice?”

  1. The preference of recognition « The Comparative Advantage Says:

    […] personal relationships) are due to the fact that we don’t take the time to recognize excellence (and even to recognize that someone is keeping the required standard). We put too much emphasis on those who are doing bad. […]

  2. The difference between downstream and upstream feedback « The Comparative Advantage Says:

    […] the difficulties of giving positive feedback and praise . I do believe that positive feedback and noticing employees are very important concepts that are not practiced enough. There a tendency to deal only […]

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