The Other Credit Crunch

We have been hearing all sorts of gloom and doom from the press about the fall-out in the banking sector and consequences of (according to Wikipedia) a “sustained period of careless and inappropriate lending.” However there is another sort of credit we don’t talk enough about or give enough of, the credit for doing something right. One of the most powerful ways to alter behaviour is to give positive, timely and appropriate feedback. When did you last praise one of your team (or anyone else for that matter) for getting it right?

Deep down, as Desmond Morris observed, we are in many ways simple anmals who respond to praise. Animal trainers have known the power of positive reinforcement for years, why do managers of humans forget it so easily?

“I viewed my fellow man not as a fallen angel, but as a risen ape” Desmond Morris

Probably the single most important job of a manager is to get his team performing, and the most powerful tool for doing this (and possibly the cheapest too) is positive reinforcement or giving credit where it is due and clear helpful, coaching-style feedback where performance needs improving. Giving public credit to one of your team for a good idea or result is hugely motivating. In fact, if you give away the credit and keep the blame when things go wrong you will have team that is incredibly loyal to you.

You need to encourage innovation and this involves taking calculated risks, especially now, those who bring in fresh thinking are going to be big winners. In turbulent times, it is much easier to steal a march on the competition. Companies like 3M allowed their engineers to invest 15% of their time pursuing personal projects, Goggle give their employees a day a week, and this, in return, gave them Gmail and Google maps. If you aren’t getting it wrong some of the time you aren’t pushing the envelope hard enough. So you need to distinguish between mistakes that come from lack of diligence or skill and those that come from trying something new.

Not only should you have a budget for innovation, but also appropriate measures so you can track if and where you are succeeding and learn from it. New products, process improvements or tools need to be shared once they are seen to work. If they don’t, then the learnings should be shared so that they can be built on and you don’t have to keep repeating the same mistake.

We have all sat on the end of a phone to mobile phone company pressing menu options in the vain hope of finding the one person who can help us, and if we are lucky enough to find them, and we don’t resolve it completely then and there, God helps us if we ever have to try to find them again… how frustrating is that?! However, we think nothing of putting ourselves and even our customers through just such silliness, because we don’t learn from our mistakes.

At the root of the Credit Crunch were people placing too much value in the wrong things. Your people are your greatest assets, your customers could be beating a path to your door and sending all their friends to you if you get it right. We all love being looked after and being made to feel special. So today, in the midst of this credit crunch make a point of giving a little credit!

“Giving credit where credit is due is a very rewarding habit to form. Its rewards are inestimable.” Loretta Young

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