The old picture of a donkey with a carrot held in front of him so he will keep moving forward on a never ending walk to reach the carrot doesn’t really work
well with employees. Instead we want to blend management with encouragement. Management empowers us to provide direction, goals and feedback to our employees while encouragement provides tools and rewards that are tailored to the employee.
In my early career, I was a teacher and I loved it. I was allowed by my administrators to try new and creative ways to educate children. I was successful and enjoyed my job. The one aspect that I didn’t enjoy was the reward system, the simple truth was that no matter how hard I worked and how well my students succeed, I was rewarded the same as each and every other teacher. Now, I knew going into teaching that wages were low compared to other careers I could have chose – that was no surprise.
What I hadn’t expected was my own response.
Over time, I found I was less creative, didn’t work as hard, and volunteered less for projects outside my job description and as expected, I still received the same rewards and evaluation. Many, many teachers thrive in this environment and produce outstanding results but I didn’t and I knew after 5 years, that I needed more. I needed encouragement to stretch my abilities, direction to reach a higher goal and feedback that I was making a difference.
A recent blog post by Terry Shadwick, President of Blu SKY, a business specializing in the clean up and reconstruction following all types of disasters states that “Ownership Thinking is old fashioned! ” It is simply doing what you say you are going to do, doing it in a professional and polite manner, and sharing the success with those who contributed. He has built his business on the principle of Open Book Management and Employee Engagement & Rewards at every level in Blue SKY. He calls it our “secret sauce”.
In the business world, Ownership Thinking is when the employees are so engaged in the business, they lend their own talents, time and sometimes treasures
to help your business succeed. Getting our employees to work towards common goals is key to retaining good employees and keeping customers happy. Retaining the right employees and encouraging and rewarding achievements that are on-target will in the end be the most efficient way to a sustainable profit.
Remember the donkey, he does get the job done, but after awhile his speed becomes just enough to keep moving forward. At the end of the day whether he covers one mile or ten miles he gets the same carrot, he was entitled to it after all! Lost profits are one of the outcomes when management ignores the importance of employee engagement in the business.