Believe it or not, last weekend marked an official secular holiday celebrated each year on Oct. 16: Boss' Day. While it originated in the U.S. in 1958, it has become an international celebration in recent years and is observed in countries such as Canada, Australia, India, South Africa, Ireland and the U.K. Now that we’ve established its credentials, what are we supposed to do about it?
Before you do anything for it belatedly, consider that the higher up you go in the management chain of an organization, the less reinforcement you will find. For those who don’t understand reinforcement and its power, I challenge you to think about what motivates you to do your best. Whether it’s someone or something, what drives us to deliver our best performance is reinforcement. It can be a colleague giving you kudos for delivering a great presentation or a family member thanking you for helping them, or even the sense of accomplishment you have when you complete a difficult task.
If you believe what I have said about reinforcement within an organization, then you now understand that managers and leaders are especially challenged to give their best.
To help you get out there and celebrate your boss next Boss’ Day and every day of the year, follow these four guidelines for delivering genuine reinforcement that is sure to be well-received. Nobody likes a "brown-noser," and if your intentions are good, then your efforts won’t be for naught.
1. Say thank you. It seems simple but in most organizations, thanking the boss is quite uncommon. Don’t just do it today or next week. Make it a habit to look for things your boss has done to make your work easier or better and simply say thank you. It could be a quick decision on a request, a change in policy or some new software or equipment that s/he is responsible for implementing.
2. Share information. There isn’t a boss out there who doesn’t want to know what is going on. Keeping the boss informed about the bad is just as important as keeping him or her informed about things that are going well. By sharing good news you are also inviting your boss to celebrate what is working. If your boss never gets feedback as to what is working and what is not, then s/he won’t know how or where to improve.
3. Be supportive. Now more than ever, managers are pushed to try new initiatives or make difficult decisions. By commenting on what is working well, it will energize everyone to work on things that need fixing. In addition, as others see you giving your best effort, some will follow your example. And, don’t stop there. Pitch in and help peers solve problems.
4. Get others involved. The best way to get others involved is to pitch in and help peers solve problems. Remind them of opportunities to thank the boss for something positive that s/he has done. There is always strength in numbers, and if your boss is feeling good about his or her performance, your team will reap the benefits as well. If you are feeling that you are not thanked enough for what you accomplish, remember that the best way for you to get more recognition is to increase what you give to your boss and peers. We know that those who are positively reinforced will reinforce others more often.
Following these guidelines will provide a natural, easy and non-brown nosing, buttering up or sucking up way to create a workplace where positive reinforcement flows in all directions.