Photo by takomabibelot
I am constantly amazed how my interest subjects are overlapping. I wrote in this blog a few times about how I find management lessons in reading epic fantasy. Another subject that correlates with my interest in managing people is the subject of education. Lately, I started following an interesting blog dealing with education by Angela Maiers. Yesterday she wrote a post called: “Two powerful words: I notice” about the importance of noticing students in the classroom. In the post she referred to a quote from the movie Shall We Dance uttered by Susan Sarandon character, Beverly Clark:
We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things… all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness’.
And I think this approach is not only important in marriage or as a teacher in the classroom but also as a manager of people. I am a passionate person and usually I do my job as best as I can. And I know from my own experience that there is a high correlation between whether I felt noticed and my motivation. Actually, over the years I discovered how much I yearn for recognition and how frustrated I feel when I am not noticed. In my e-book, I described this story:
After 8 months of internship, my boss took me to lunch, and offered me to stay at that firm as a full time lawyer once I pass the bar exam. I told him that what troubles me is that I did not get any feedback. I only learned by trial and error and a little by watching what others do, and not by direct feedback. I said I would like that to change if I was to stay. He was genuinely surprised. He said to me: “Well, if I were not happy with you, you would have already known”. When I think about it, I still can’t quite grasp that reaction. But it really stands for how people usually feel. If there is nothing wrong, there is no need to say anything. Frightening!
While I know it is dangerous to extrapolate from my own experience to a general rule, I found that while not everybody feels the same, many people do. When I teach motivation in the Israeli Air-Force I talk about the expectancy theory of motivation by Victor Vroom. One of the main concepts in this theory is that there needs to be a clear connection between the effort people put in and the optional reward. According to the theory, one question people ask themselves before they act is “will somebody notice what I do?”. The theory is not straightforward but when I talk about this part and ask for an example, almost all the students in the class have one. Too many of us go unnoticed.
Just yesterday I wrote about the unpredictability of rewards and its importance. In order to be really unpredictable but also create an effective response to our rewards, we need to notice our employees. And it is not enough to notice, it is also important to let them that you notice. Most business people will tell you that marketing is all about perception. The qualities of your product are not as important as how people perceive you r product. I think we should employ similar thinking to our employees. Noticing our employees is important but making sure that they know we are noticing them is just as important.