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Small Business Development Center
Member, Texas Tech University System The Princeton Review - 373 Best Colleges, 2011 Edition

Praise, pride go long way on the job

May 04, 2014

 I enjoy reading the posts on Facebook of a high school principal.

I know a number of educators and am “friends” with them on Facebook. However, not one of them is more active on Facebook and Twitter than he is. In fact, it would be fair to say he is more active than my own school age children are.

Why would a 60-year-old school principal (I can say his age because he posted it on Facebook!) be active in social media? Because he loves children and he wants to be where they are. He uses social media to make school announcements such as snow days or calendar events. He reminds them of dress code rules. He praises their accomplishments with lofty eloquence.

The thing he does so well through social media and other avenues is how he shows his pride and love for his students and his staff. He finds something to celebrate every day. He will travel many miles to attend as many UIL events and non-UIL events as possible when his students are participating. When they have done well, he can be caught at the school updating the school marquee even if it is midnight.

How does all of this translate to business? In nearly every business, one of the largest expense items is labor. Sometimes, it is the hardest to manage, especially when sales are hard to predict. Because it is an expense item, it can be easy to look at labor as a liability rather than an asset. Once we begin to look at employees as liabilities, we begin to treat them that way and then we wonder why their performance drops.

As a business owner, you put a lot of money into labor. The surprising thing for some is that employees are not motivated by money alone. Yes, we all work to earn money to provide for our families and ourselves. That is just the reason to work. Why did your employees choose to work for you?

David Sirota, co-author of “The Enthusiastic Employee: How Companies Profit by Giving Workers What They Want,” says in an interview with Knowledge@Wharton that employees basically want three things. First they want competitive pay with benefits and security. Second, they want a sense of achievement. That is, they want to feel proud of the job they do and the employer for which they do it. The final thing employees want is camaraderie. To feel part of a team is important. Businesses that do these three things and do them well have high employee morale and high productivity.

The principal discussed above does not pay his students in dollars. He pays them in honest praise and love. He helps them be proud of their accomplishments by showing his pride in their accomplishments. While he may not participate on their team, he is as much a part of their teams as they are. Moreover, he makes sure they understand the entire school is a team and that they are all there for each other. He is arguably their greatest cheerleader. Are you your employees’ greatest cheerleader? If you are, then you look at them as assets instead of liabilities. Find something to celebrate every day.

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