By: Gayle Abbott

Attending the Hollywood Best Sellers Summit and Golden Awards Gala at the iconic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel where the first ever Academy Awards were held in 1929 was a blur of excitement, experiences, new friendships and reinforced insights about people.

The Best Sellers Summit brings together Experts from around the world that have contributed chapters to best selling books or written full books. You could feel the energy and excitement vibrating through the air. It was so exciting to be around individuals who had taken their life in their own hands, decided to step up and write, and who want to make the world a better place by sharing knowledge and experiences. For some the writing and book publication represented overcoming their fears and limiting beliefs; for others, it was “stepping off the proverbial cliff” to go to the next level in their life, for others it was promoting their knowledge and expertise and still yet for others they saw the book as a chance to build their business and get greater financial returns.

As some of you already know, we are constantly looking at how what we do applies in real, everyday life. Watching people is one of the best ways we know to better expand our knowledge and bring even more practical, real world examples about people and how they play out on the stage called life. With all these experts gathered to share ideas and knowledge we really saw the variety of behavioral styles, motivators and cognitive valuing processes at work. Each person adds value and brings their own unique gifts even when they are very different from us or are someone with whom we wouldn’t naturally connect. While we were able to see the tremendous value added by all the individuals brought together for this event more importantly we saw how excited they were to be there and to be recognized (even though each expressed it in very different ways).

Watching how excited everyone was led us to think about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – in particular the esteem and self-actualization levels at the top of the hierarchy. The model reminds us that once a person’s basic needs are met they have a need to achieve and be respected and recognized. Yes, financial incentives are important but sometimes it’s acknowledging the little things and ways that people contribute and add value. It’s remembering that while people want to improve, grow and receive honest communication around the areas they can improve it can’t be a constant battering with no acknowledgment of the value they add. It’s saying, “Hey you really handled that … difficult situation well.”

Unfortunately, we still see it time and again in organizations where managers are really good at pointing out what’s wrong but neglect to share what’s right. We’ve often heard – “they’re supposed to do things right that’s what they’re paid for.” But it’s not that simple and that’s not how humans work. Failure to acknowledge and recognize a person on a reasonably regular basis (once or twice a year is not regular) contributes to disengaged employees who feel they can never do anything right. The criticism slowly erodes away their self-esteem and over time they become less proactive, and less effective. They may show up on the job and do work but as one of our colleagues, Terri Kabachnick wrote in her book “I Quit But Forgot to Tell You” they aren’t contributing at the levels you need or want. It only takes an extra 30 seconds to let someone know they are doing a great job on a specific task or that they are headed in the right direction. Making the time to do so not only makes them feel great but it significantly increases commitment, productivity and the achievement of greater results that benefit everyone – both individuals and the organization.

Come back next week to read more on employee perspectives and practical actions for taking your employees’ performance to the next level.