I Don’t Get No Respect…
Do you remember the comedian Rodney Dangerfield? That was his signature line. “I tell you, I don’t get no respect. When I was born, I was so ugly the doctor took one look at me and slapped my mother.”
Do your people respect you? Are you getting the results you need from them? Do you sometimes wonder about their commitment?
You might ask yourself this question. How do you feel or how do you typically respond when someone tries to exert control over you?
I like to watch people walking their dogs. Sounds strange? Maybe it’s because I love dogs. I noticed that there are two basic kinds of dog walkers. The first kind is where the dog is constantly pulling on the leash and the walker is constantly fighting to keep control of the dog. The harder the walker pulls on the leash, the harder the dog pulls against it. It’s quite amusing to watch. I’m sure you have seen them.
The second kind casually walks the dog and the dog walks alongside without pulling on the leash. Both the dog and the walker are in sync with each other and both appear to enjoy the experience.
Who should we blame? The dog, or the walker?
When our dog was a puppy, we took him to puppy kindergarten. While there I learned two important things.
- Dogs are pack animals and like to follow a leader.
- Dogs follow their leader only when they think it’s a good idea to do it.
So my job as a walker was to convince my dog that it was a good idea to follow me. I had two ways of doing that:
- Constantly pull on the leash and try to physically force the dog to obey. In essence, punish non-compliance
- When the dog stayed close, reward him with a tiny treat and compliment him.
I learned that #1 did not work well at all. I was constantly working hard to try and maintain control. Surprisingly, #2 worked like a charm. Once I consistently recognized and rewarded my dog, he began to see what a great idea it was to cooperate and walk alongside me.
- I regularly recognized him when he did something good (talked nice and petted him)
- I regularly rewarded him with a treat to reinforce the new behavior.
- Once he was behaving consistently, I continued to recognize him, but I only rewarded him sporadically. That kept his interest because he never quite knew when he would be rewarded.
Should you treat your people like dogs??? YES, and here’s why…
The harder you pull on your people’s leash and try to control them, the more they will resist and pull back. The same holds true with your customers and vendors. In essence, punishing non-compliance is not the way to earn cooperation.
Instead, try this:
- Establish expectations with them. They come to work every day to add value. It’s your job as a leader to weave that effort into the fabric of the Company so that it creates value.
- Regularly review performance with your people. Don’t just wait until their annual review. People need frequent feedback (sometimes daily/weekly/monthly) to reinforce their behavior and performance.
- Recognize individual people. Have you ever heard someone say, “Hey pal, I’ve had enough of your positive reinforcement.“ Point that thing in a different direction. Recognition can be one-on-one, in small groups, or Company-wide.
- Reward people for good effort. Rewards can take many forms. It’s not always about money. You should make note of things that are important to them. One might like movies. Another collects coins. Another likes books from a particular author. So thoughtfully reward them with things that really matter.
Think back to your favorite boss, teacher, or influential friend. Did they not follow this to some degree?
Want some respect? Your people feel the same. Show them some and it will return in spades…