Want somebody to do something for you?  Do something for them!

I find myself to be more observant of human behavior these days.  Perhaps my experiences of the past two years have provided me with an opportunity to view with greater awareness how people treat each other.   The loss of humanity that I was exposed to through the media has ultimately been the catalyst of a consciousness seeking genuine acts of caring that draw people forward.  As a Head Coach I really believe that when people feel empowered they are more likely to use their energies to create results that exceed expectations.

I experienced one of those genuine acts last week at the home of my friend of nearly two decades.  Bob Sokalski is a Senior Litigation Partner of Hill, Sokalski, Walsh, Trippier LLP.  Bob has been involved in corporate/commercial, contract and product liability litigation for over 30 years.  He is also Counsel  to the Winnipeg Football Club and other sports organizations as well as media organizations and that is how we met in 1992 when I first came to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.  Soko and his lovely bride Barb, requested my presence to an outdoor gathering which they invited chefs, waitresses, bartenders, and various other staff members from the Manitoba Club to show their appreciation for the job those people carry out each and everyday.

The Manitoba Club was founded on July 16, 1874 at the St. James Restaurant with 25 members when the city of Winnipeg had a population of less than 2,000.  In 1930, the southwest wing was added with facilities for “ladies” and families. In 1979 women were allowed to enter by the Broadway entrance and by 1991 were granted full membership rights.  This is an exclusive establishment and the membership expect attention to detail.

Creative use of rewards many times will separate leaders from managers.  Leaders are more apt to use “spot strokes” where informal verbal or written praise provide more personal and unlimited resources.  Leaders understand the use of intrinsic rewards that allow people to be creative and enjoy the challenge of the work.  Your people should strive for that sense of accomplishment that accompanies the immediate outcome of individual effort.  It could all be as simple as listening without interruption or other “personal currencies” such as taking a positional coach out to lunch or telling the staff to go home earlier in the evening to visit with their families and get a good night sleep.

I did these things as a Head Coach.  For example, after recruiting season, I’d drop a hand written note of thanks in the assistants mailboxes with a check for $50.00 (hey, it was the late ’90’s and in south Georgia, things were cheap!) and tell the coach to thank his wife for understanding and take her out to dinner on me.  During the season as we became engulfed in the midseason grind, I would return to the office from one of my radio shows and walk through the offices telling people to go home.  There is a “point of diminishing returns” after one has worked for 12 to 14 hours and I’d rather have my coaches fresh, making sound decisions in the morning than spend the morning making corrections from mistakes made the evening before.

Verbal recognition in front of peers for both players and staff alike go a long way.  Spontaneous and unexpected are often more appreciated and meaningful than formal rewards.  They demonstrate heart.  Praise and coaching are significant forms of recognition.  Human beings have basic needs.  We need to be recognized.  We need to be noticed.  We need to be appreciated for our efforts.  THANK YOU!  It’s easy to say and to demonstrate and is the most inexpensive and powerful reward you can provide.  A personal congratulation, a “way to go!” is a powerful non-monetary recognition of achievement.

Some managers make the mistake of thinking employees or subordinates if you will, only respond to money.  “I tip well, so I should receive good service!” or “I’m providing that kid a scholarship so he better appreciate it!”  Individual needs for and appreciation of rewards or recognition extend much further.  Extraordinary achievements do not come easy and will not be exposed in unappreciative environments.

What the Sokalski family provided that night for the employees of the Manitoba Club was far more reaching than a good smokie and cold beer.  They said “THANK YOU” and gave credibility to the dedication and daily demonstration of what and how things need to be done by this group of terrific people.  Soko linked performance and reward by giving of himself and demonstrated the ability to get the best out of himself and others.

I’m humbled that I was part of the evening and grateful that I can take notice of a successful leader acknowledging individual contributions to the success of a group effort. It’s really what coaching and leadership are all about.

  1. Jim Nendel says:

    What a great reminder. Thanks Coach! I will thank someone today!

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