My first year in high school, I went out for the water polo team. Our coach was also the head baseball coach who never played water polo and couldn't swim. As the season progressed, we learned the basics and began to gel as a team. I liked our coach and discovered his baseball teams consistently went to the league championships, and he held the league record for most coaching wins. Many of his players earned college scholarships and several were playing major league baseball.
As our league water polo games approached, the intensity increased. Our baseball coach was beginning to get the best from everyone on our young team. We were beating teams ranked much higher, and we rose from fifth to second in the league standings. Only one team stood in our way of winning the league championships. That final game was awesome. We beat the best and went on to celebrate the victory.
It's the coach that counts
As I look back, I now realize what made us succeed. We didn't have raw talent or experience. We didn't have the best plays or techniques. It was our coach that made the difference. Every day he approached each player, slapped our backs and complimented us. He made us want to get better, improve and win. He always talked about our possibilities, never our failures or mistakes. He never yelled or talked down to us. He constantly reminded us that we can be the best only when we decide to be the best.
As I manage my staff and leadership team, my natural tendency is to try and fix their problems. It is easy to find fault and criticize. Have you ever wished your people were as accountable, responsible and hard working as you? Do you often hope your people will change and get better?
People want to do more
Just as our sophomore coach improved every player, you can change the people in your company. Their output is the result of your input. All it takes is a regular slap on the back. Ninety-two percent of people who leave companies say they never received any praise or compliments from their boss. Ninety-seven percent of people say they would do more if they were recognized and appreciated on a regular basis.
Think about your project or company. You can't do it alone. You need staff, suppliers, subcontractors, managers, foreman, and workers to get the job done. Most everyone wants to do a good job. And the simplest way to get what you want is to give them the recognition they deserve.
Recognition system that works
My recognition system is simple. I try to recognize everyone who works for me at least once a week. I use a checklist to make sure that I don't forget anyone. One on one, face to face appreciative comments work best such as: "Thank you for..." or "I appreciate you..."
When out of town or when impossible to see everyone, I make time to write short appreciative notes. I often see these notes proudly posted on their bulletin boards for weeks. It is amazing how a little kind word goes such a long way. I also leave short voicemail messages telling how much I appreciate their work. Any praise or recognition now is better than waiting for the perfect time to do it.
With our customers, architects, suppliers and subcontractors, I try to send hand written thank you notes on a regular basis. This keeps them excited about being on our team. This also gets them to go the extra mile when we really need them.
Be a winning coach
Who is on your praise and recognition list? Who should you thank today? How often do you give out praises and words of appreciation? Remember my coach who took a bunch of regular guys and turned them into winners. He didn't know how to do the work or play the game, but he did know how to turn people into winners. Go slap someone on the back. Start today. Now is better.