"The deepest principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated."
--William James, Father of American Psychology
We spend a great deal of time thinking about how to "make" people work harder, to get them to perform better, to push them to their limits. I am all about performance, but... it is achieved through creating internal drive, not through creating fear of punishment.
How often do we step back and ask ourselves what we need to do in order to make the choice for our employees to perform an easy one? In my experience, most people in charge focus more on what others should do instead of on what they, the leader, should be doing to create greatness in others. The way I see it, all possibilities exist for our people. They can be great, or barely acceptable, or passionate, or disengaged, or whatever they wish to be. Our job as leaders is to set them up to succeed by seeing more greatness in them than they can even see in themselves. It is our job to find reasons to say "thank you" for the wonderful things they are doing. After all, our goal is to become masters of behavioral conditioning. Right? That IS what creates the right results, after all.
As a leader, you are measured based on your ability to accomplish great things through other people. This means that other people have to desire to perform for you. It also means that you must understand how to eliminate bad behaviors and develop good ones in other people. We are often very good at confronting people when things go wrong. We just forget that we are supposed to spend even more time praising them for the things they have done right. In behavioral conditioning, reinforcing the right behaviors is more important than reprimanding the wrong ones. There are three simple parts to your 'thank you' message that will help to reinforce the good behaviors.
What they did... behavior
How you felt about it... feeling
The difference it made... impact
When you can describe the specific behavior that they performed, how it made you feel (appreciation / thankfulness / etc) and the positive impact it had on the organization, you are changing that person's world. When we, as leaders, invest enough time and energy in building the positive side of relationships, we change more than one person's world. We change our businesses, enhance our mission, and leave a legacy for the world to strive towards. You are going to leave people either better or worse with each interaction you have with them. You simply have to make a decision, right now, to develop the best in people by demonstrating the best in yourself.
Are you ready to be a world changer? Appreciate someone!