positive public regard

Positive Public Regard

The quickest, most direct, most effective, and completely cost-free way to create positive relationships and engaged team members

A major trend in recent management thinking, research, writing and attention has been about employee engagement, and motivation. Many major consultancies have large streams of business devoted to helping large organisations survey their people, for culture, climate, engagement and other such management constructs. Large reports are produced, and we are sure much of the information is very valuable. However, even if the information is very valuable, not a great deal seems to get done about it.

Most organisations have authorised systems to recognise and reward people for the work that they do. Despite a great deal of research indicating that the intrinsic motivators of enjoyment, achievement and interpersonal relationships outweigh the extrinsic motivators of money or other material compensation, the bulk of these systems concentrate on providing extrinsic prizes.

A far more effective and meaningful way to create motivation and engagement with the people you work with is to create an authentic adult relationship with them, allow them to do what they do best and especially tell them and others around them when they have accomplished something valued by you and the organisation. Encouraging all members of the team to similarly provide each other with on-going public regard creates cohesion and the possibility for valuable collaboration.

Prizes and Praising Ongoing Public Regard
Creates winners and losers; draws energy out of the system Distributes precious info that an individual’s actions have significance; adds energy into the system
Frequently communicated indirectly; said about the person not directly to them Communicates appreciation or admiration directly to the person
Global statements with little info re what the speaker is valuing Specific info to the person about the speaker's personal experience of appreciation or admiration
Often characterises the other person Non-attributive, characterises the speakers experience, and not the person being appreciated
Frequently formulaic, glib, experienced as insincere Sincere, authentic; more halting, awkward; freshly made
Non-transformational; transactional; business as usual Transformational potential for both speaker and the person being regarded

YouTube Video: Dan Pink at the RSA speaking about what motivates us.

how to do it

The conventional recognition of good work done, and strategic outcomes delivered can be improved dramatically if the giver of the regard follows some simple but significant points:

  1. Speak directly to the person you are giving regard to, in front of others. Talk to them, not about them to the group – this will be much more impactful, memorable, and meaningful for the person receiving the comments
  2. Be very specific about the actions they took and the outcomes they delivered – this way that person will know exactly which part of their thinking and/ or behaviour was beneficial to the outcome
  3. Let them know the impact their achievement has had on you, and more than just in a material sense. Let them know if you were inspired, relieved from a worry, or challenged to rethink your own approach or ideas – again, all people want to know what impact they have on others who are important to them.
This shift in language can be further characterised as a movement from the left column to the right column of the table at the bottom of this page.
In Conclusion

There may be a temptation to dissolve this reflective practice into ‘chats over a coffee’. If this were to occur, most of the benefits of the practice will decrease or disappear, as will interest in the process.

Because this is a transformational process, people will experience the discomfort of having to confront themselves and their own self-protective/ reactive tendencies or patterns. If the sessions are effective, this is a common outcome.

Generally, people do not like to do this. There is also the real possibility that people will consciously or unconsciously find all sorts of very reasonable excuses as to why they cannot attend these meetings, or may try to ‘lighten’ them up. Obviously therefore, the personal responsibility and commitment of people is key to this process’s success.

Experiment and have fun!