You care = I care

Wow!   I just looked at my site stats and my readership was up in December.  It’s great positive reinforcement – makes me excited to write more.  Don’t you find that you are more motivated to do more when you know people around you are interested in your work, care about it, even rely on it?  What a difference it makes — knowing someone is paying attention.  

My ‘revelation’ is nothing new, of course.   There have been studies over the years showing that the mere presence of an observer affects the way we work, typically by making us more productive.  This is commonly called the Hawthorne effect, so named based on studies of worker productivity in the 1920’s at a factory called Hawthorne Works.  They were actually studying the effect of different types of lighting, but ended up finding that even without changing the variable (light), workers were more productive simply because they were being observed. 

Why?  I think it is because we are inherently social creatures, and when we believe someone cares, it makes us care more.  Think about this in your worklife.  Want more out of your team?  Pay attention to them!  Now, I’m sure there is an upper limit on this.  I don’t know of any studies on how too much attention dampens productivity but I’m sure they exist.  We’ve all heard the term “micromanager” and it doesn’t have a good connotation.  As long as you don’t take it too far, “show up” for your team, and show them you care.  It’ll be good for both of you.

Tough Love

When I ask others for feedback, I often frame it by saying, “Give me tough love,”

This really is one of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my career. That tough love is the best kind. Sometimes it’s rough. Sometimes it’s not in the form we want to hear. But to those who are bold enough to say what we need to hear, rather than what we want to hear, we owe a debt of gratitude. Feedback truly is a gift. Because if someone doesn’t think you are effective, or thinks you made a mistake, even if they don’t say it, they are still thinking it. And it is still affecting your relationship with them, and possibly your performance on a larger scale. Once they share this thought with you, though, you have suddenly gained power. You now have the power to do something about it.

Often we don’t want to “do something about it”. Because it requires work. Sometimes hard work. And that’s no fun. So, we stick our head in the sand, we disinvite feedback: we ignore it, we deny it, we downplay it, we rationalize it. And when we do, that’s when our growth is stunted.

The next time someone offers you feedback, or just plain criticism, say “thank you” and mean it.
Sir Francis Bacon said “Knowledge is power.” Claim your power. It’s there waiting for you wrapped in a package called tough love.