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The Power of Encouragement

By Ben Glenn

If you've invested in the stock market or real estate, the slumping economy has probably led you to take up new hobbies like screaming, crying, or tearing your hair out. Everyone is looking for safe investments that offer the best ROI. For businesspeople, the surefire winners are your employees. Specifically, investing encouragement and support into the people that you work with.

Every time a business makes a deposit of encouragement into an employee, there's an opportunity for instant return, whether it's an up tick in their morale and/or their performance. As a bonus, there's the possibility for encouragement to build and create long-term return. You will have an employee that enjoys their job and regularly goes above and beyond their job description. Naturally, a supportive work environment supports better work.

A good way to look at these managerial efforts is to call them "creating joy on the job." The key to being a good administrator is recognizing where you are strong, but also recognizing your weaknesses. Surround yourself with people who can fill those weak points. Build them up in those areas so that they'll enjoy what they're doing and do a better job.

It's often not easy to get your staff to enjoy their jobs. There are many tools with which you can encourage your employees, here are the top five. They may seem obvious, but it is important not to overcomplicate things and overlook the simple ideas. The top five tools to encourage your employees are:

1. A kind countenance: This is a fancy way to tell you to smile. Your coworkers will reflect what they see in you. Be a master of making eye contact and giving a smile that communicates, "I really care about you. I'm interested in you." It is an effective non-verbal way of telling your co-workers they are important to the organization and are making a difference.

2. A timely word: This involves being sensitive to when an employee needs a word of encouragement. They may have had a difficult day, in personal or work matters, and it would mean a lot for their supervisor to acknowledge it. It involves a good sense of timing: saying the right thing at the right time.

3. An appropriate touch: In a society where the threat of sexual harassment seems to inhabit every cross-gender interaction, lost is the thoughtful art of physical contact with each other. Psychological counselors claim that people are deprived of physical contact with the incredible fear of "Will it be misunderstood?"

For example, take an amateur boxer. Boxing allows the participant to engage in rigorous mental and physical training, expend pent-up energy, and sharpen focus. Even after the manly, testosterone-saturated event, more hugging happens than at Woodstock, especially for the victor. In addition to celebrating with hugs, boxers show respect by touching gloves with their opponent before trying to knock his head off. In sports, physical contact like this is acceptable.

In the workplace, a handshake, a pat on back, or a pat on arm is usually appropriate, and it makes a difference. Obviously, use common sense. Understand your individual relationships with your employees and how your action will be perceived by the employee and by others.

4. A well-crafted note: Whether it be via email, text message, or the classic Post-It note, tell your employees how good of a job they're doing. Be creative in letting them know in printed word that you appreciate them - both who they are and their good performance. You never want to hear this kind of complaint in your office, "I never knew if they appreciated what I was doing. I didn't know if I was doing good or bad."

Don't let your employees wonder the same thoughts. Tell them simply when and what they're doing well. You can likely expect to see even better work from them in the near future.

5. Consistency: You can't just make a bank deposit once and expect that savings account to grow. You have to continually invest into it. In the same way, one gesture of encouragement is a good start, but that boost will fade away as the rigors and routines of the job pile up. You have to keep at it.

Also, it would be a bad idea to turn your money over to a financial planner and expect everything to be in order when you retire. You have to be involved. In the same way, encouragement has to come from you – an authentic, personal, and consistent effort from the encourager.

The key to maintaining consistency is looking beyond your own needs and concerns and really knowing your staff. See your employees as more than people who have tasks to do. You should know them and be sensitive to how they communicate, both verbally (comments of frustration, pleas for help) and non-verbally (facial expressions, body language). Do you know when an employee is having a rough day? Can you tell if their behavior is different from other days?

In the end, all of this encouragement not only builds up your employees, but molds you into a better leader. Don’t be a “boss” who throws out an expectation, sits back and waits for it to be met; Develop a coach’s mentality to help your employees reach the goal.

Good coaches drive for the goal, whether it is a boxing match or the bottom line. They also know that encouragement is the key ingredient to getting the most out of their athletes because of the trust that is created when an athlete receives the recognition and the validation for all their work. Your employees will allow you to challenge them to reach greater heights if you take the time to build a relationship where encouragement and acknowledgement play a big role. Don’t forget to celebrate the successes with your employees; teach and encourage them through the hard times and watch your work environment evolve.

Read other articles and learn more about Ben Glenn.

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