Rewards for Rewarding

Mornings do not always go smoothly in my house. Our older children, Josh and Danny, are never particularly thrilled about making their beds, a task they liken to going to the dentist. One morning, after noticing that Danny had done a superbly sloppy job with his bed, he and I had the following conversation.

Daddy: "Danny, I think we can do a better job with the bed."

Danny: "No I can not. This is the way I always do it."

With that, Danny made a beeline for the computer while I pondered what had just transpired. Maybe Danny thought that since we never say anything, this was the way we expected his bed to be made. Had I not been clear enough in my expectations? Do your associates ever look at you with a puzzled look on their face? Do you ever feel you are not getting through to them?
Often, we do not clearly tell our associates what we expect of them. When I teach companies how to "Hit the Grand Slam" with their customers and associates I stress that they must motivate and make it fun. Setting expectations is critical, as israising and rewarding the achievement of company goals and objectives. Developing a workforce of happy associates puts a thrill into customer service. The results are higher revenues and stronger profits.

There are several ways to do this:

1) Explain yourself clearly: Make sure your associates clearly understand your expectations. Take the time to patently explain things.

A friend recently told me of an experience he witnessed with a restaurant client. One of the servers needed a lot of improvement. and they were about ready to let her go. In a last ditch effort, my friend appeared to the managers that they should tell her exactly what was expected – and to give her one more night to improve. They did, and she improved dramatically in just one shift. That was 2 years ago and she is still doing very nicely.

2) Set high expectations: Expect great things and you will get great things. Conversely, if you expect failure, that's exactly what's headed your way

With the server above, once her supervisor explained things and raised the level of their expectations, they were rewarded with great improvement.

3) Praise often: Support your troops. Find opportunities to pat them on the back. Have your managers read The One-Minute Manager. They should always be trying to catch your associates doing something right!
Martin Broadwell had it right when he said "Praise is the bullet-proof vest for front line service personnel!" Lavish praise on your associates, as you would your grandschildren.

4) Reward more often: Demonstrate how you value your associates by rewarding their achievements. Not just the major ones but also the minor ones – especially after you have delivered some difficult constructive criticism.

Ask your associates how they would like to be rewarded. It does not always have to be financial. Sometimes a handwritten letter from the President of the company will become a treasured keepsake.

5) Celebrate achievements: Maintain a light atmosphere. Honor your associates every chance you can. Birthdays, anniversaries, outside achievements – it does not really matter.

The important thing is having a fun place for your associates to spend what amounts to a third of their day.

For many years, I was the President and owner of one of the country's most popular wine stores. I always tried to maintain a light mood as I knew the company's psyche would rise and fall with my attitude. It was not always easy; however, I always tried to maintain an easy-going style. Maybe I was a tad goofy; but that was OK with me.

We've heard it a million times. Taking care of the internal customers will help the external customers. It's true! Let your people know what you expect and praise them when they meet or exceed your expectations. You will like the results, and so will your accountants. Me, I have to make my bed. Obviously, I did not tuck the sheets in properly this morning.