At last, a one-size-fits-all motivator comes along — the personal thank you.
by Kate Everson
April 30, 2015
Treat your employees like Jimmy Fallon treats pool chalk, bathroom hand dryers and fur trapper hats — send them a warm “thank you” once in a while. (Photo courtesy of NBC.)
Not to sound like a late night infomercial, but what if I told you there is a way to jumpstart your employees’ development and performance that only costs two one-syllable words?
Last month I wrote a post outlining the types of motivation that keep employees engaged at work, both in their learning and their performance. Shortly after the article went live, I heard from Mark Miller, vice president of marketing at organizational development consultant Emergenetics International.
He said that as much as it’s a great idea to cater to employees’ intrinsic motivators — the passions that drive people from within — overextrinsic motivators like money, it takes more than good intentions to initiate such an approach.
Managers have to be able to recognize their employees’ individual drivers. That means chief learning officers need to deliver that kind of emotional intelligence training. Miller said the learning doesn’t stop there. Leaders also have to understand, accept and ideally rejoice that people are different.
“Realize you have to access people from different perspectives and points of view because not everyone looks at things the same way,” he said. “Know that there is messaging that needs to happen to appeal to different kinds of employees.”
For example, collaboration-driven employees want a teamwork-centric workplace culture. Analytical mindsets, on the other hand, want to know how their work applies to the organization as a whole.
But as diverse-minded as we want our workforces, there’s a common motivator that seems to get through to everyone: expressed appreciation.
In 2011, Harvard University conducted a study that showed appreciation can be effective. University fundraisers were divided into two groups. One group made calls the same way they always did. The other received a pep talk from a supervisor, who expressed her gratitude for their work. Those who had heard the speech raised about 50 percent more money than those who didn’t.
Insert the As Seen On TV catchphrase, “But wait! There’s more!”
Even neurology shows signs of thriving on thankfulness, especially when you’re the one doing the thanking. Multiple studies show that feelings of gratitude release more dopamine — also known as the “reward neurotransmitter” — and make us feel happy or fulfilled. Showing more gratitude also increases activity in the hypothalamus, which controls bodily functions such as eating and sleeping as well as influences stress and metabolism.
Yes, in the spirit of this late-night infomercial, gratitude can even help you lose weight.
So before jumping into a classroom learning session on new privacy policies or kicking off a leadership development webinar, take the breath to say “thank you” to your learners. Not only will it connect with what drives all of them to learn and work, it also will make you feel better, too.
And that’s without five payments of $19.99 plus shipping and handling.