Recognize employee contributions, and you’ll get much more in return, says Motivosity’s Logan Mallory
Fans of “Mad Men” may have noticed that Don Draper’s desk was not one where you’d likely find a World’s Best Boss mug. (And if he had one, it wouldn’t be filled with coffee.) In a classic exchange with Peggy Olson, he tells her, “I give you money, you give me ideas.” When Olson points out that he never says thank you, Draper angrily shoots back, “That’s what the money is for!” For many reasons, Draper wouldn’t be an effective manager in today’s professional environment. But the scene provides a lesson for how to improve relations between managers and employees.
Being Better Managers
“What most managers don’t understand is that their team members want to feel seen. They want to feel like they matter. They want to feel like their contributions are making an impact,” Logan Mallory, VP of marketing for employee engagement software provider Motivosity, told BOSS.
Some managers view their relationship with their charges as a forced one and think that the paycheck is enough recognition. But in a recent Motivosity survey of 2,000 workers, 75% of them said their mental health would improve if they were recognized more for their efforts.
And while some employees dread interactions with their boss, Mallory said managers can turn around those negative perceptions with consistent coaching and one-on-one meetings full of feedback, positive and negative.
“There’s something about the lack of coaching that makes people nervous and gives them that negative connotation because they’re always waiting for the hammer to drop,” Mallory said.
He shared the story of an interaction he had with CEO and founder Scott Johnson shortly after starting at Motivosity.
“I was a couple months in, but still at the point where you’re a little nervous and trying to figure out if you’re doing the right things,” Mallory said.
After the meeting, Johnson sent an acknowledgement through Motivosity that included a still from a “Justice League” trailer. The message was that Johnson loved where he was taking the department. “It’s like we’re the new Justice League,” Johnson said.
Mallory started to daydream about being the Batman of marketing. He told his wife about the praise and shares the anecdote in presentations all the time.
“That one interaction from my manager changed how I felt about our relationship and increased my confidence,” he said.
The Motivosity Platform
Motivosity helps managers focus on the right activities to build relationships with their team members, Mallory said. The key is consistent communication, and at its core, Motivosity is a one-on-one tool that helps managers have meaningful interactions with their employees. Other tools help managers focus on coaching conversations and setting priorities, so team members know they’re working on the right things.
Analytics within the platform show which team members or departments are disengaged so that action can be taken to bring them back into the fold before it’s too late. Employee net promoter score surveys make it easy for workers to provide meaningful feedback on a quarterly basis. Taken together, the employee engagement products and surveys make Motivosity an employee experience service.
To promote peer-to-peer engagement, Motivosity includes personality profiles. From a work standpoint, users can determine the best approach to take with co-workers and build productive working relationships. From a personal standpoint, interest groups help them get to know each other outside work.
For example, one of our customers had a number of team members that really loved road biking, and they found each other through the interest group part of Motivosity,” Mallory said. “Suddenly you had these people from finance and sales and marketing that never would have interacted in this 1,000-plus person organization road biking together multiple times a week.”
The employer realized it had a unique subculture within the company and began sponsoring a team in road races.
“They valued that the team was spending time together and therefore supported it and made it a company thing instead of an ad hoc effort.”
‘It’s Not the Stuff That Matters’
A common saying around Motivosity is, “It’s not the stuff that matters. It’s the thanks that matters.”
A lot of companies try to boost employee engagement through swag, gift cards, or other rewards.
“The rewards are meaningful, but it really is that gratitude, that thanks that impacts people,” Mallory said. “I love my Motivosity swag, but the stuff is not what gets me out of bed on Monday mornings.
“Working for a good manager who recognizes my contribution is what makes me go to work and makes me hustle.”
In the current climate of remote and hybrid teams, remote team members often feel left out, he said. They miss the wins, they miss the water cooler talk, and it creates emotional chaos for them. Recognition software can create visibility for remote team members, keep them up to date, and make them feel less isolated.
With a downturn in tech, companies that have enjoyed seemingly limitless growth are now laying people off. There are unintended consequences for those that remain. They have more responsibility, they miss their friends, and they’re worried that they’ll be next. Extra effort on the part of employers to keep them connected and recognize their hard work can go a long way. Conversely, in industries that experience unprecedented competition for talent, such recognition can keep good people around and make them better contributors in the long run. What makes employees stay?
“Of course, pay matters. People need to be able to provide for themselves and provide for their families,” Mallory said. “But then they want to have a meaningful relationship with their manager. They want to feel recognized for the work that they’re doing on a day-to-day basis. And they want to feel connected to their team members.”
A fourth factor, especially prevalent among younger workers, is a sense that the company’s work aligns with their values.
At the end of their exchange, Draper tells Olson she should be thanking him every morning for giving her another day. That’s not the way things work anymore, and if you keep talented employees, you have to make sure they know you value them.