I was speaking to a gentleman who services air conditioners in Florida. He's been with his employer ten years. Air Conditioner techs in Florida -- can get a new job in three days. They are in crazy demand. They are like Java developers or DevOps Architects in the Software world. His name was Jack. I asked Jack what kept him with his company. He said: The pay is good , the people are great and the benefits are strong. But the real kicker is that his manager (also the company's owner) calls him weekly, just to tell him about the great job he does. From my observation of Jack's work, the praise is well deserved.
That was not the first time I've heard that particular source of motivation described. Software Developers, DevOps Engineers, Data Security professionals have given me the same testimony. It comes from start-up companies, with free flowing healthy beverages, pantries stocked with every treat in fruit, cookies or candy. Sites with ping-pong and extremely casual attire -- everyday. It comes from Fortune 500 companies as well. While salary and benefits are the reason individuals come to work. Over and over, I hear the same refrain -- my manager, my team lead or my Director comes by my desk or calls on the phone with a sentence or two of praise. And they do it often. Praise can be the magic elixir of staff retention.
The best software managers, product managers or directors follow the very simple formula. Their message is: "what tools do you need to perform the task? What resources can I get for you? Here is the project task list or specifications. Let me know what obstacles we need to overcome. Tell me where I can help. And ...tell me when its done". They act like a quarterback handing off to a running-back. That kind of management who can also foster team spirit, absolutely moves mountains. Their teams will go through fire for them. [When I was a software developer, I worked for two such managers. I can attest. I was always willing to walk barefoot on coals for them. And of course, did my very best.]
Conversely I hear from candidates who are performing very well. They achieve their objectives. They are well-paid. But they choose to leave what an outsider would deem, some very good companies. Why would they do that? Drum roll please.They tell me that: "they've never received any acknowledgement for wonderful work. Not a bit of simple praise". They are certainly crushed by that lack of acknowledgement.
So they vote with their feet.
Current managers and you who will inevitably rise through the corporate ranks -- please remember Praise. Praise is like rain in the desert. It truly is a magic elixir.
If you have spoken with me you probably already know I'm a rabid Patriots fan. Clearly the Patriots practice for putting everything together in the 4th Quarter. That group follows Bill's directive "Do Your Job". They act as a team--with a sense of urgency. But there is motivation and then again there is burning desire. That group carries a flaming torch.
In corporate sales the 4th Quarter is about making the numbers for the year. It’s about corporate profitability and sometimes its about company survival. Gary Walker, EVP of Channel Sales & Operations, CustomerCentric Selling expressed it this way:
"You can’t approach this fourth quarter as business as usual. You have to approach the remainder of this year with a sense of urgency. Here are some steps that you can take with some suggested dates: Re-grade your existing pipeline using the Pipeline Grading Form. Who are your real fourth quarter opportunities? When: Now! Take control of your sales pipeline. When: No later than November 1st. Send an email to all C (Champion) prospects, followed by a personal phone call, advising them that this is a critical quarter and asking them if it is their intent to make a selection decision by the end of December. You might as well find out who is real or not. "
On a wholly different tack; one of my heroes from history is the Carthaginian General Hannibal Barca. Hannibal took his army of an assortment of nations and war elephants over the Italian Alps, in the dead of winter. He did this to completely surprise his state's mortal enemy Rome. Hannibal successfully waged war on Roman soil for twenty years, without reinforcements of troops or supplies. He was asked about the Alps march and the impossibility everyone imagined it to be. He said "We will either find a way, or we will make a way". He had sworn to his father that he would always be Rome's enemy. He kept that promise. His was a burning desire.
In our own nation's history there is Stonewall Jackson. He was perhaps the finest military leader our nation ever produced. Stonewall's infantry often covered fifty miles a day, ill clad and under nourished. Their general often split his forces to overcome armies three times the size of his own. He rode in front of his troops on scouting patrols. He did so with complete faith that if his time had come -- then it was his time. He said: "never give counsel to your fears." He and his men fought as if their lives and that of their families at home depended on it. They possessed an unmatched sense of urgency.
In much of my recruiting work, I have helped to staff start-up companies. They operate often on a shoestring budget with a small staff. They routinely bring wholly new creations in predictive analytics for healthcare, novel approaches to semiconductors, e-commerce aggregations of products from around the world, completely new systems in inventory control, etc. I could go on and on with their description. But the founder and founding team's vision is expansive and revolutionary. To stand with these tech giants is wholly inspirational. The mental leaps they make in connections of technology are astounding. They play for "all the marbles". The individuals who join that ride have a set of incredible memories. And sometimes they have stock that makes their financial fortunes. The founders and their mighty team (if small), know great passion. They have a true 4th Quarter Mentality. They know how to stretch and reach and do the very nearly impossible.
What makes heroes? Do they have no fear? Or is the truth really that they experience fear like all of the rest of us? No, they feel fear and just go right through it. "Motivation, Determination" as the Marines say. The 4th Quarter Mentality is within you and me. We simply need to access it. Yes we definitely need to learn and train and develop the right skills. But then when its time to go all out -- we find the right mojo and make the impossible happen. Let's Be Heroes!
I’ve been following the New England Patriots since the Bledsoe days. The Shay Group is named after Daniel Shays a Western Mass patriot from the Revolutionary War period. Okay, I am a fan. So it comes as no surprise that The Patriots victory over a great Atlanta Falcons team was an unusually poignant moment for me.
The extraordinary and exceptional talent of the players was self-evident. The mental toughness, persistence and grit shown by Tom Brady and the team battling an outstanding opponent and significant off-the-field demons was incredible. But while the team created comeback records and Super Bowl records what really stood out to me was its deeper meaning. The players are flesh and blood like us. But, the inspiration they provide is profound. When we dig down deep, through whatever trials we face--we have it within us to rise. We have wonderful comebacks in us all. Whether you create hardware, mobile apps, integrate software, teach processes or utilization to hospital staffs, create innovative telecomm technology or lead teams of test & quality personnel…… Greatness is within you, and me. We can tap into that inner flame and create phenomenal achievements. Heroes walk among us every day. My question to you is; what’s your shining moment?