“What could be better than a pay raise?” Hans Finzel answers in chapter three in The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make. The answer is affirmation.
“The big idea is that poor leaders demand a great deal from people and never give them a pat on the back for a job well done. Effective leaders realize that most people are motivated more by affirmation and encouragement rather than by financial reward.”
Hans Finzel stresses three summary points:
1. Everyone thrives on affirmation and praise.
Most people are not like the Energizer Bunny who just keep going and going and going. Most people who work for us or live with us need their emotional batteries charged often. Phyllis Theroux said that compliments are highly biodegradable and tend to dissolve hours or days after we receive them.
2. We wildly underestimate the power of the tiniest personal touch of kindness.
Tom Peters wrote “And of all personal touches, I find the short, hand written ‘nice job’ note to have the highest impact.”
Hans Finzel said, “Every day I have as a goal of writing at least three words of kindness to someone. Keep boxes of various kinds of note cards and encouragement cards at your desk at the ready. Oftentimes you need not even bother with a separate card or letter when sending an affirmation. Just scribble a ‘good job, well done’ on the margin of a memo, or shoot a quick e-mail reply.”
3. Learn to read the varying levels of affirmation your people need.
Finzel instructs us “that the people who work with you will require different amounts and different kinds of affirmation.” He has developed The Affirmation Continuum.
At one end of the continuum is the Desperados. These persons needs lots of affirmation. They have little confidence, lap up affirmation, and are fragile.
Next are the Up-and-downers. These persons can go a long time without affirmation but then they get discouraged and need affirmation to survive.
Then there are Normal people who come from stable homes and need very little affirmation.
Finally there are those Energizer Bunnies called Autopilots. They are actually annoyed at praise and some view affirmation with suspicion. Kindness is all this rare breed needs.
Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:14 recognized that different believers have unique needs for us to respond to.
Finzel closes this chapter with some practical advice from Buck Rodgers in Getting the Best out of Yourself and Others.
1. Get out of your office and pay a visit to someone who does a good job. Pay a visit to say thank you.
2. Don’t let good work be secret. Praise privately with notes any good work so our people will not feel their effort is wasted or even worse that their boss is taking the credit. Rodgers mentions the “Three-Compliments-a-Day Club.” Let’s join today.
3. Thank people publicly. Formalize thanks whenever possible, in house organs, memos, at meetings, and at conferences.
In Romans 13:7, Paul admonished us to give affirmation when affirmation is due.
The motivation that Nehemiah used with God’s people to rebuild the wall was not external bonuses or an all-expenses-paid vacation to Hawaii. This kind of extrinsic incentive has to be repeated in bigger doses. Nehemiah appleaded to a far nobler motivation, removing the reproach from God’s name (Nehemiah 2:17-18). Nehemiah challenged, “Let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.” The people responded, “Let us rise up and build.”