I confess, I had an unusual childhood because my parents thought the sun rose and set over me. My (brilliant) parents thought I was wonderful, perfect, and could do no wrong. It was their doting that helped me become successful in business—their constant praise gave me the self-esteem I needed to blaze my own trails instead of following the followers. I thank them for giving me the self-confidence necessary to start a moving company and develop several successful patented inventions.
Because of my exceptional childhood, I believe that employees—especially men—who receive regular praise from their bosses for jobs well done, are more productive and more likely to stay with their company than those who don’t get that kind of positive feedback. I saw proof of this in my moving company. My partner and company president, who also happened to be my wife (at the time), never said “Please” or “Thank you” to our employees. According to her, it wasn’t necessary—she was the dictator, and she never praised them either.
On the other hand, I always said “Please” and “Thank you” and praised them when they deserved it. As one of the owners, I believed my most important role was to provide a support function for our employees. I tried to help them become more successful by making their jobs safer, easier, and more productive. I know they were more loyal, satisfied, and happy because of the way I treated them. It’s kind of a no-brainer but it always surprises me when I see other owners and business leaders pay little or no attention to this basic but critical human need.
I gave our employees what my parents instilled in me—self-esteem and self-confidence. As it turned out, my efforts paid huge dividends. For example, over the 24 years that I owned my company, it was our employees who devised a better way to load a moving van, discovered a technique for moving blueprint file cabinets full safely with one of my patented inventions, and found a more productive way to secure floor protection to carpet.
Our employees knew I was willing to try anything to make their jobs better. They responded by giving me new ideas and were excited when I tried them. Morale was high at our company, and I attribute it in part to my appreciation and encouragement of our employees who, in turn, took pride in their jobs and in the company. Our happy employees made happy customers!
Unfortunately, most owners, general managers, and bosses that I know are like my former business partner. They don’t praise their employees for doing good work. I think they are afraid to compliment them because they fear they’ll then ask for a raise or try to take advantage of them.
However, based upon my good experience, I urge you to recognize and praise your employees. Doing this will encourage and motivate them to make your company even more successful. There will always be one or two employees who will see your efforts as opportunities to take advantage but in my experience, the benefits of treating employees well FAR outweighs the risk of treating them poorly.
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