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What Motivates YOU to Excel?

The situation was this. An executive from company headquarters had just left, and it was time to repair the damage he had done with the staff and other employees during a two-day visit. Despite performance that was exceeding most operational metrics, he complained and criticized almost everything we were doing to an audience of whoever would listen. (Names have been changed to protect the visitor who apparently thinks that EI means Ego Index instead of Emotional Intelligence).

I walked into the office shared by two of my overworked, underpaid team members and closed the door.

Me: "Guys, I am so honored to be working with you. Both of you are extremely professional and particularly good at your jobs. Your dedication and extra hours are noticed every day by the people who matter most - your colleagues and the other employees who depend on you for guidance and support. I sleep very well at night knowing that our company is well taken care of with you leading the largest part of our operations. Thank you for what you do."

Guy 1: "Thanks, Dave."

Guy 2: "Thanks for telling us."

A few weeks later, Guy 1 comes to my office, closes the door. He’s a 25-year veteran of the company, a tough man, who talks about sports and going to bars, and expresses few feelings.

Guy 1: "When you told me that I was doing such a great job, I got very emotional. After you left, I stepped out of the building to get myself together. I called my wife. She said she was very proud of me for what you said. Do you know that in my time here, no one has ever told me I’m doing a good job, let alone in front of another person? It’s incredible that I didn’t know how much something like that would mean to me. Thank you."

Who’s doing a good job for you? When’s the last time you’ve told them?

How about those who are not doing such a great job? Can you find something that they are doing well, point it out, and encourage them to build upon that, without pointing out what’s not going so well, of which they are probably painfully aware? Most people want to do a good job, and when they know that someone is paying attention to their contributions, often it inspires them to improve in other areas as well.

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