Praising Performance to Build Confidence, Productivity, and Morale

Business People Talking On Business MeetingI ask people all the time, “How many of you are sick and tired of all the praisings you get at work?” I always get the same response—laughter. It’s sad how many managers spend their time pointing out things that are wrong with performance instead of catching people doing things right. That’s why Spencer Johnson and I encourage you to focus on the Second Secret of The New One Minute Manager®, One Minute Praisings.

After you have set clear goals with someone, it’s important to spend a good amount of time with that person to make sure they are set up for success. In fact, let people know you’re going to give them lots of feedback on their performance because you believe in their talent and you want them to be high performers. If they aren’t used to receiving much feedback it might seem confusing, but soon they’ll realize what a valuable tool it can be.

When you praise performance, remember to do it promptly and be specific about the behavior. Let the person know how you feel about their achievement and encourage them to keep up the good work. This is especially true when someone is working on a new skill or task, because praising will help build confidence. As people become more proficient, they will actually learn to praise themselves for a job well done.

Something to keep in mind: a One Minute Praising is not the same as flattery. It’s a statement that builds trust and improves communication because it’s based on facts and data. Saying “nice job” isn’t specific enough to build rapport. But if you say, “Sally, thank you for getting your monthly report to me on time. It provided accurate information and allowed me to meet my deadlines. Keep up the great work,” it clearly states your appreciation and will boost Sally’s morale. It will also help her realize she is an important member of the team and improve her productivity overall.

So spend a few minutes every day catching your people doing something right. It doesn’t take much time. Remember: the best minute of the day is the one you invest in your people.

NOMM-book-featureTo learn more about The New One Minute Manager, visit the book homepage where you can download the first chapter.

A New Book for a New Generation: The New One Minute Manager®

NOMM-book-featureOn May 5, HarperCollins will release The New One Minute Manager. I’m already getting a lot of questions about how the One Minute Manager has changed since the original book was published in 1982.

The workplace has evolved dramatically over the last 30 years. In the early 1980s command and control leadership was a way of life. In those days, the One Minute Manager was the one who set goals—he decided who to praise and who to reprimand. The New One Minute Manager realizes that today the old top-down management style doesn’t work, because people want to find meaning in their work and be recognized for their contributions. Now side-by-side leadership—being a partner with your people—is much more effective.

To address these changes, my coauthor Spencer Johnson and I have updated and adapted the Three Secrets used by the New One Minute Manager—One Minute Goals, One Minute Praisings, and One Minute Re-Directs. Now the Secrets are more relevant than ever.

Readers will discover that goal setting is no longer a task managed by the leader and handed off to the employee as a list of directives. Setting One Minute Goals is now a collaborative activity that the leader and direct report work on together. The focus is on setting clear expectations and providing examples of what a good performance looks like. People are encouraged to review their goals daily so they can stay on track by focusing on their most important projects.

The Second Secret, One Minute Praisings, remains one of the most powerful tools a leader can use to encourage and motivate people. The New One Minute Manager knows the importance of catching people doing things right and praising them right away. In time, people learn to praise themselves and become self-leaders.

The Third Secret is where we’ve made the biggest change: One Minute Reprimands have been changed to One Minute Re-Directs. We did this because the pace of work is so fast today that people are in constant learning mode. Even if you’re an expert today, tomorrow your area of expertise may be outmoded. It’s not helpful to reprimand or punish a learner. Today it’s more effective to coach and support people with One Minute Re-Directs.

I’m excited about the practical tips we’ve incorporated into this book for a new generation. Now more than ever, the Three Secrets provide powerful tools to help you build relationships and achieve personal and professional goals. And the heart and soul of the new book remains the same: one minute really can make a difference. In fact, I believe the best minute of the day is the one you invest in your people.

To learn more about The New One Minute Manager and download the first chapter, visit The New One Minute Manager pre-release website.

Dealing with “The New Normal”

bigstock-Business-man-in-front-of-a-hug-40875844A client recently asked me to speak to their company about “the new normal.” It reminded me of an interview I conducted with Sir Richard Branson on the same topic a couple of years ago. As you know, Sir Richard is an expert on operating in the new normal. His international investment group, the Virgin Group, is one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands and runs successful businesses in several different sectors.

During our interview, I asked Sir Richard how he chooses the different sectors he invests in.

His reply was that he looks for sectors where the current competitors are not as customer focused as they could be. If they are not taking care of their customers, he’ll go into that industry.

But that was just the beginning. In addition to being customer focused, he shared that you have to be fast and flexible, you have to be cost effective, and you have to be continuously improving. Continue reading

Remembering Stephen Covey and Zig Ziglar

Two great men who were mentors and friends to me passed away this year—Stephen R. Covey in July and Zig Ziglar just this past week. I’d like to share a few thoughts about these wonderful guys.

Stephen Covey was a devoted husband to his wife, Sandra, and dedicated father of nine, grandfather of fifty-two, and great-grandfather of six. He was also a great friend and colleague to many, including me.

A great memory I have of Steve was when we did a session together in Salt Lake City. During my presentation, I talkedstephen_covey about how the most popular management philosophy was “Seagull Management,” where managers don’t come around until something goes wrong—and then they fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everybody, and fly out.  That line normally got a good laugh from audiences, but not this time. Then Steve whispered to me, “Ken, the seagull is the state bird of Utah.” Oops!  He later told me about the role the seagull played in Mormon history.  When the early Mormons were settling in Utah and planting their fields, they were plagued by swarms of locusts that began eating all of their crops. The people thought they were going to starve to death. At one point they looked up and saw a huge cloud of seagulls flying toward them. They thought the seagulls were coming to finish off what the locusts hadn’t eaten.  Instead, the seagulls ended up eating all of the locusts, saving the settlers’ harvest and their very lives. Steve even took me to the place in downtown Salt Lake City where they have a statue of a seagull.

Steve was such an inspiration and a teacher to so many.  He was a giant in our field and a very special human being.  His legacy here on earth will go on for years to come.

Zig Ziglar had a big impact on me. During the times we were on the platform together, he modeled for me that it was okay to share my faith as long as I wasn’t trying to convert folks. He told me, “Your faith is part of who you are, and people want to know what makes you tick and what is important in your life.”

Zig ZWhen I was 65, I called Zig because Margie and I had been invited to the 59th Anniversary of his 21st birthday. I asked him, “Zig, are you going to retire?” I will never forget his reply: “There’s no mention of retirement in the Bible!  Except for Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and David, nobody in the Bible under 80 years of age made much of an impact. I’m not retiring—I’m re-firing!”  What a difference his phrase of “re-firing” has made in my life the last eight years.  I quote him all the time. In fact, I’m working on a book on “re-firement” and my coauthor and I are going to dedicate the book to Zig.

One last thing I learned from Zig.  He once told me, “I never met a golf game I didn’t like.”  Ever since, I play a lot of N.A.T.O. golf—Not Attached To Outcome—and I enjoy the game so much more. He was an inspiration to everyone fortunate enough to meet him.

It’s always tough to lose important people in our lives. I think the best way to honor them is to make sure you reach out—today—to the people you love, and tell them how important they are. As Margie says: “Keep your I-love-yous up to date.” You’ll never regret it.

Leadership is Not About You

As a leader, you should never start thinking that leadership is all about you. When things go well, a great leader doesn’t look in the mirror and pound himself or herself on the chest and say, “Aren’t I fabulous?”  A great leader looks out the window and gives other people the credit. Get your ego out of the way and remember that leadership is about people who work with you, not for you.  People want a leader who cares about them and wants to help them achieve their goals so they can be magnificent.  So don’t get overimpressed by yourself as a leader. The fact of the matter is this: You are nothing without your people.