People judge their leaders by how their actions align with their words. And how aligned these two things are then triggers stories that get told, and retold, across the organisation.
People are looking to see how the messages they hear from their leaders in corporate communications, presentations, and in the organisation’s espoused values actually align with how these leaders behave day-to-day. The term used to describe this alignment between a leader’s words and their actions is behavioural integrity.
Behavioural integrity (BI) is achieved when what leaders say and what leaders do are aligned. Research shows that employees’ perception of their leaders’ BI has huge implications for individual, team and organisational performance. Employees who perceive strong BI in their leaders show increased trust, commitment and willingness to go the extra mile, thus improving customer satisfaction, decreasing employee turnover and improving profitability. (#1)
In 2002, researchers at Cornell University conducted a survey of 6500 employees across 76 US and Canadian Holiday Inn hotels (#2). They asked employees to rate on a 5-point scale how closely their managers’ words and actions were aligned. The researchers then compared the results of the survey with customer satisfaction surveys and staff and financial records.
The results were unambiguous: the hotels whose leaders received a high BI score were substantially more profitable than the hotels whose leaders’ BI was perceived to be weaker. The analysis showed that a one-eighth of a point improvement on the 5-point rating scale could be expected to increase profits by 2.5 per cent. In the case of the Holiday Inn study, that translated to a bottom-line impact of over US$250,000 per one-eighth-point improvement.
In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, best-selling author Patrick Lencioni argues that the foundation of a functional team is trust.(#3) Lack of trust, he asserts, opens the floodgates to four other dysfunctions: fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results. These five dysfunctions combine to sabotage even the most well-intentioned, intelligent and motivated teams. This assertion is in line with the results of the Cornell study, which found that BI is a precursor of trust and credibility.
In other words, for employees to trust their leaders and each other – the foundation of performance – they need to perceive a strong alignment between their manager’s words and actions.
This isn’t to say that BI means ‘doing the right thing’. It simply means doing what you say you will do, acting in a way that is consistent with your values and the messages you send. We may mistrust and even dislike someone who espouses and enacts values we consider unappealing, but we will give them some credit for representing those values honestly, thus displaying high BI.
Consider this story about former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling, who is currently serving a 24-year prison term for conspiracy, insider trading, making false statements and securities fraud. One morning there was a long line of cars waiting to get into the Enron car park when Skilling’s car roared up and pushed into the front of the queue. In response to the honks of protest and frustration, Skilling just raised his middle finger.(#4)
Maybe this was exactly the message Skilling was trying to get across: ‘People from Enron don’t just stand in a queue and wait for their turn. We go straight to the front, push in, and take what is ours. And if anyone has a problem with that, we tell them where to go’. It certainly sounds like an action that was consistent with everything else he said and did while at Enron. I do think his behaviour maybe somewhat different in the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, Colorado?
So, why do stories about leaders’ BI get retold in organisations? Why do they trigger so many stories?
Employees look to either the behaviour of their leaders, or to stories about their behaviour, to judge their character. They want to find out who their leaders are, what they value, what they are passionate about and what annoys them. This is partly so they can predict the leaders’ future behaviour and its potential impact on them.
It’s often mistakenly believed that stories are just accounts of things that happened in the past. In fact, by revealing patterns of behaviour and personal tendencies, stories are also predictors of the future. By understanding how their leaders are likely to act, employees can modify their behaviour to reduce the risk to their own security, or alternatively to increase the likelihood that they will be treated favourably.
As author Tony Simons notes; “employees focus substantial attention on their managers partly because they depend on them for rewards, promotions, favourable assignments, resources and the like”.(#5)
This is why the stories leaders trigger by their actions are so important. They have a disproportionate impact on how people perceive their character and therefore their trustworthiness.
(#1) Simons, T. (2002). ‘Behavioral integrity: the perceived alignment between managers’ words and deeds as a research focus’, Organization Science, vol. 13, no. 1.
(#2) Simons, T. (2002). ‘The high cost of lost trust’ in the Harvard Business Review, September, 2002.
(#3) Lencioni, P. (2002). The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Jossey-Bass, New York.
(#4) Roberston, I. (2012). The Winner Effect: How Power Affects Your Brain, Bloomsbury, London.
(#5) Simons, T. (2002). ‘Behavioral integrity: the perceived alignment between managers’ words and deeds as a research focus’, Organization Science, vol. 13, no. 1.
When asked for the secret of his success in the steel industry, American industrialist Charles Schwab (1862-1939) always talked about using praise, not criticism, giving liberal bonuses for work well done, and "appeal[ing] to the American spirit of conquest in my men, the spirit of doing things better than anyone has ever done them before."
He liked to tell this story, retold in Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People, about how he handled an unproductive steel mill:
Schwab had a mill manager whose people weren't producing their quota. "How is it that a manager as capable as you can't make this mill turn out what it should?"
"I don't know," the manager replied. "I've coaxed the men, I've pushed them, I've sworn and cussed, I've threatened them with damnation and being fired. But nothing works. They just won't produce."
Schwab asked the manager for a piece of chalk, and asked: "How many heats did your shift make today?"
Schwab chalked a big figure six on the floor. When the night shift came in, they saw the "6″ and asked what it meant. "The big boss was in here today, he asked us how many heats we made, and we told him six. He chalked it down on the floor."
The next morning Schwab walked through the mill again. The night shift had rubbed out "6″ and replaced it with a big "7."
When the day shift reported for work the next morning, they saw a big "7″ chalked on the floor. So the night shift thought they were better than the day shift did they? Well, they would show the night shift a thing or two. The crew pitched in with enthusiasm, and when they quit that night, they left behind them an enormous, swaggering "10."
Shortly, this mill, which had been lagging way behind in production, was turning out more work than any other mill in the plant."
Schwab's improvised just-in-time leader board was simple, quick, cheap and powerful. Leaderboards can stimulate and motivate people to succeed. Making outcomes more visible to more people guarantees more discussion about who's successful and why. Leaderboards are therefore a terrific way to trigger stories.
Did you see Dave's team is leading this week, did you hear about that big deal they did last week? See Tracey's guys have gone up since last week after she had them on that training course? What do you think is going on with Gary's team to bomb that badly?
Visible results, tied in with competition, trigger stories. This is a central tenant of the whole gamification movement
Carnegie concludes his anecdote by quoting Schwab: "The way to get things done is to stimulate competition. I do not mean in a sordid, money-getting way, but in the desire to excell."
Obviously, no sane organisation wants a competition right out of David Mamet's Glengarry, Glen Ross. But if it drives the right behaviours and triggers the right stories then it can be a great way to build motivation and increase performance.
In using story-work to build a brand, engage employees, or for one of its many other purposes, organisations nearly always focus on storytelling. The meme is strong because the act of storytelling is so powerful. But to focus solely on this one aspect of story-work severely limits the benefits. The most valuable application of this technique combines storytelling with story-listening and story-triggering. Together, these processes create the conditions for enduring and healthy change.
Back in 2005, I introduced the readers of the Anecdote blog to the concept of story-listening (it might even have been the first time the term was used). Story-listening is the process of eliciting and collecting stories, helping groups to draw meaning from those stories, and then, most importantly from a business perspective, creating opportunities for the stories to inspire employees to take positive, transformational action.
Story-listening may sound passive, but it does not involve people merely sitting back and listening to their company's stories in the same way that they might enjoy their favourite podcasts. It is all about helping those who can most influence change understand what's really happening in their organisation, and then inspiring them to do something about it. All good business story-work is purposeful.
Let me give you an example. Earlier this year, one of Australia's biggest accounting firms contacted Anecdote for help. They'd just done their employee engagement survey, and while many parts of the business were in good shape, there were several areas that revealed a need for improvement. The problem, however, was that the survey results didn't make it clear what might be creating the lower engagement scores. Broad themes like reward and recognition, communication and leadership behaviour had been flagged, but the organisation remained uncertain as to exactly which behaviours needed changing - or, for that matter, which behaviours were working nicely.
We started the project by collecting stories from a good cross-section of the firm and managing them in our Zahmoo story bank. We then assembled a group of influential employees from across the business and ran a workshop to help them work out for themselves the patterns of behaviour they wanted to reinforce and the conduct they wanted to correct - the stories we'd collected gave the employees many concrete examples of specific behaviours that either helped or hindered employee engagement. Once the important patterns where identified, we helped the group to design targeted interventions that would prompt constructive, lasting change.
All the stories you hear at work reflect your organisation's culture. You cannot change this culture without changing the stories being told and retold in your workplace. Then, once you've initiated new behaviours, new stories will flow. Story-listening helps you become aware of the current corporate narratives - it helps you to clearly hear the dominant stories, the prevalent archetypes, the repeating plot lines. Most importantly, because you are working with stories, your feelings are engaged, and these feelings inspire you to take action. Story-listening gives you the essential ingredients for change: decisions makers who both understand what's going on AND who are emotionally moved to make a difference.
We all act in accordance with our beliefs, attitudes and values, which together form our view of life - or in terms of organisational culture, our view of work. This view is shaped and reshaped by what happens to us and how we interpret those experiences, and we reinforce those interpretations by telling ourselves stories and acting in accordance with them.
One of the first projects we did at Anecdote was to investigate the issue of trust in a bank's call centre. The call centre manager told us that when she'd first joined the section, she'd held the strong belief that all she had to do to get something done was to simply ask someone to do it and get their verbal agreement. But within her first week on the job, a colleague pulled her aside and advised her that, to get anything done, she should really email the person she was tasking and document her request, cc-ing all the relevant managers to ensure there was an obvious paper trail. At first this seemed crazy to the manager, and it offended her belief in the personal, friendly and trusting management style she had cultivated over many years, so she refused to adopt this approach. However, within another three weeks, after a series of incidents, the manager was emailing all of her tasking requests.
The dominant story at this call centre was that if you just relied on face-to-face requests, your words would be twisted or ignored and the job wouldn't get done, so you needed to maintain a paper trail as evidence. The centre's manager lived this negative story, multiple times, and eventually adopted it in place of her optimistic personal conviction. This was a sign of a very unhealthy workplace. What needed to happen here was that the employees needed to be subjected to new experiences that generated a fresh, positive governing story, and this is exactly the objective of story-triggering.
The simplest way to trigger such stories is for an organisation's leaders - that is, leaders in the broadest sense of the word - to do remarkable things, things that other people will remark on. We saw this happen at another bank we worked with. The bank's new CEO had noticed that most of the meeting rooms in the company's headquarters were occupied all the time, but that a handful were usually empty. On closer inspection, he noticed that the empty rooms each had a sign on the door which read, "This room can only be booked by a General Manager." The CEO asked around to see if this was necessary and quickly decided it wasn't. He then personally went to each GM meeting room and tore down the notices, triggering a story that flew around the organisation.
This might seem like a small act and a trivial story. But, in fact, it fed into a much bigger narrative that the CEO was creating, which went along the lines of: "We are flattening our organisation and resources will be allocated to whoever needs them to deliver business outcomes, regardless of their level in the company."
The first step in successful story-triggering is for leaders to be mindful of their actions. Such purposefulness is easier said than done. Often a leader's intent doesn't match the lived experiences and perceptions of her colleagues. She might want to foster collaboration yet is seen as acting in ways that create competition. She will only be able to tell if she is on the right track by becoming aware of the stories that are being told about her; some story-listening might be required here.
The next step is for leaders to identify or engineer opportunities to do something remarkable, and to do it conspicuously. This might be as simple as a leader telling an authentic story that reveals something about them - in particular, something about how they really feel, rather than what they think. If this sounds wishy-washy, it isn't. In his book The Political Brain, neuroscientist and political pundit Drew Westen puts it this way, using the context of political campaigns:
"Campaigns aren't won with bags full of anything [e.g. policy promises]. They are won by candidates who can convince voters, through their words, intonation, body language, and actions, that they share their values, that they understand people like them, and that they inspire the nation or save it from danger."
One CEO we worked with punctuated each sentence of a sustainability policy he was presenting by smacking the projection screen with the back of his hand. By the end of the presentation, no-one was left in any doubt as to the fact that sustainability was important to him.
The psychologists Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey point out in their book Immunity to Change that we can also apply the idea of story-triggering at the individual level, helping people to create new stories for themselves which fulfil the prerequisites for behaviour change.
The usefulness of this approach became clear to me while I was conducting a workshop with 80 professors at an Australian university on ways to improve collaboration. As I began to make the point that two important behaviours for good collaboration were to make and keep promises and to speak your mind to colleagues with respect and good intent, I noticed a woman sitting at the back of the room. She had her arms firmly crossed and was shaking her head, clearly very unhappy with what I was saying. So I stopped my presentation and asked the woman if she would like to share what she was thinking with the rest of the group. Practically before I had finished my request, she said, "There is no way in the world you can be open and honest with a senior professor around here." Before I could comment, she went on to tell a mini story: "I once did what you are suggesting and I had to move departments."
Now, no amount of clever argument or telling of familiar stories would have changed that person's mind. She had obviously had an incredibly bad experience. The only way to help her gain a new insight would be to create an experience with a different result to what she was expecting, and to do this many times over. She would then have a new story that would in turn guide her future behaviour.
There are many ways to apply storytelling to your work setting. You can help your leaders to become better storytellers, and you can also begin to share stories of customer service or safety, or stories that convey your values, brand, service or product. But there is one particular type of storytelling that I'd like to focus on here, that which will help you bring your strategy to life.
As I've said in my paper, How to make your strategy stick with a strategic story [http://www.anecdote.com.au/whitepapers.php?wpid=23], the sad reality of strategies is that considerable effort is expended to create them, yet it's often the case that few people in an organisation know them. As a consequence, it is practically impossible for people to act strategically. Without the company strategy in mind, people won't know what to focus on, or what to say 'yes' or 'no' to, and they will become reliant on their managers for direction which, depending on the quality of the manager, can really curtail innovation and effectiveness. This is where strategic stories can help.
There are some misconceptions about strategic stories that we should clear up. Firstly, some people think that a strategic story is merely an immutable single story that must be conveyed unchanged in each telling. Of course, this common misunderstanding is far from the truth. One of our associates once helped a large postal service develop their strategic story, but before he'd had time to organise some sessions to explain how to use it, the story had found its way to the head of the parcels section, who promptly said there was no way he was going to parrot 'this script' or read it out to his guys. Our associate assured him that that wasn't the intention. Rather, the story had been designed to convey the meaning of the postal service's strategy via a mixture of context, emotion and facts, and with that meaning in mind, leaders would be encouraged to tell their own stories to illustrate the company's strategic directions.
A good strategic story is a framework of meaning that explains why an organisation's strategic directions have been selected. But it's also like a chord progression used by a jazz musician, in that within that progression, the musician is free improvise and adapt the music to suit their needs and the desires of the moment.
Another misconception about strategic stories is that they are crafted by the CEO and her team and communicated to everyone much like Moses heralded the Ten Commandments. On the contrary, it's important that the development of a strategic story is a participatory process that involves as many people as possible, both in its initial crafting and in the sharing of new stories about how the strategy is subsequently being lived out by employees.
Once you've developed a strategic story, you'll find that it wields tremendous power in clarifying a new strategy. Even if you already have a strategy in place, the strategic story process will often reveal misunderstandings about what the strategic directions actually mean, or disagreement among your leaders on what they should be. When we conducted separate interviews with each of the senior partners of a large consulting firm, we found them mostly in agreement about the company's strategic directions. During the strategic story process, however, we discovered major differences of opinion between them which required resolution before the process could be completed. Through some difficult but important conversations, the leaders reached agreement and now have an even stronger resolve to pursue their strategy. Unfortunately, too many organisations avoid these tough discussions or just lack the trigger and then the process to pursue them effectively. Instead, they mistakenly continue working with a completely misaligned view of their strategy.
A strategic story is memorable, adaptable and imbued with meaning. It helps everyone in an organisation to make sense of what's happening in the business. Done well, a strategic story provides a real competitive advantage.
Bringing it all together
The combination of story-listening, story-triggering and storytelling magnifies the impact of story-work far beyond that achieved through the use of a single story approach. Organisations often start with story-listening, to find out what's really happening in the workplace and to help employees work out what they need to do. Then storytelling is used to increase the ability of leaders to connect with their colleagues and inspire them. While we are all natural storytellers - I'm writing this in a cafe and the guys at the next table are sharing one story after another - we often need to build our confidence to tell stories in a work setting. This is because we've become used to merely voicing our opinions at work, rather than showing our hearts. But employees want to know what their leaders stand for, and those leaders' actions and stories are a useful guide. Once an organisation knows what is happening within it, albeit with an awareness that you can never know it all, then story-triggering is used to prompt the telling of new stories that will pave the way for a new means of acting.
If you're already applying a story technique to your organisation, then you're well placed to broaden your approach and gain the benefits of using all three story-work modes. If you're just starting out, then you have a great opportunity to distinguish yourself from your competitors by using a comprehensive story approach to improve the way you work. You'll be amazed at the business results.
How do you get your people to think about what the future could be, in a way that inspires them and starts to spark action, but also takes into account the simple fact that the future is unpredictable?
I was reminded of this challenge, yet again, last week.
We were working with a client on developing a session for a two day leadership conference focussing on bringing their strategy to life. As we were throwing round ideas on the types of things we could do, someone suggested an exercise that involved the participants spending time writing a magazine article about how things are for that organisation in 5 years time.
This triggered a recollection when we did a similar thing when I was working in the UK for the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). I was involved in planning and running a series of workshops for the management population of my division, working with American management guru Noel Tichy to bring his concept of " cycle of leadership to life. These were 2 day courses, and we ended up running them for nearly 5000 leaders, over a two year period in 2006 and 2007.
On day two there was an exercise where everyone had to draft a magazine article, for the leading business magazine The Economist, with these instructions:
You are assigned to write a cover story for the Economist - dated September 21st, 2012. The story is about the dramatic transformation of RBS, and how through your leadership and outstanding execution, RBS is achieving unprecedented success. The article should be written as if it were 2012 and should discuss the challenges RBS has overcome, how that was done and what the business now looks like.
Now to understand the rest of this story you need to know that RBS during that time was one of the biggest and most successful companies in the world. In 2005 it announced a profit of $A10.27bn, up 14% from the year before, and in
2006 the profit increased another 16% to $A13.69bn. By 2007 the profit stood at a very impressive A$15.33bn and the share price stood at $A8.94.
It was held up as a major success story in the UK corporate world, and its Chief Executive, Sir Fred Goodwin, who had been knighted in 2004, was a darling of Wall Street and the city in London. The feeling was that we could do no wrong, the business would just keep growing and growing, and become even more and more successful.
People spend an hour crafting these beautiful magazine articles talking about RBS and its success five years in the future. They then worked in three's sharing each other stories, before three or four of the best ones were shared with the whole group. I remember they talked about things like how RBS now had 500,000 staff (up from its 120,000 at the time), that its market share has gone through the roof (i.e. its share of the credit card market was now 80%, up from 20%), that the world's most innovative companies came to RBS to learn how to do it, and that its profit had just hit A$30bn a year.
At the time I thought the exercise was very useful. It created energy in the room, made people feel good about themselves and the organisation and all of what was mentioned seemed realistic and achievable.
On the 19 January 2009, RBS announced a loss of AS41.65bn, the biggest ever annual loss in UK corporate history. On that same day the British Government increased its holding in the bank to 70%, and the share price stood at less than 14 cents. Tens of thousands of people lost their jobs, businesses within the RBS Group were sold and Sir Fred resigned, he was vilified by the British press, and his house was even attacked by angry protestors.
There is no way in 2006 or 2007 that we could see this downfall happening. It was completely realistic to think of continued success and global domination. The exercise seemed to do exactly what Tichy had wanted it to do, and people were still talking about months after the events. But every single prediction that 5000 people made about the future proved to be wrong.
How do you get your people to think about the future, and what it could be, but which also takes into account its unpredictability? How do you manage and deal with that paradox? Was the exercise we did at RBS 'wrong', or did it achieve what it wanted, if its purpose was to get people excited about RBS' future, and reinforced to them why they wanted to be there. Is it more of an engagement technique than a strategic visioning exercise?
I would really like to hear your views on exercises like this and your experiences of dealing with the challenge of trying to envisage a rapidly changing, unpredictable future and the value in doing so.
I heard this story from one of our workshop participants. We were talking about values and how they play out in practice. Their organisation, a government department, has 'fun' as a stated value.
With that in mind Janet (not her real name) thought it would be fun to take her team on an outing to the nearly opened Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart. She mentioned her plan to her manager who suggested she should write a memo outlining her plans. The memo was sent to her manager's manager and the text was edited and massaged and eventually it was sent all the way up to the head of Janet's division.
That was six months ago and she has never heard a thing about it since.
What would you say is valued in this organisation?
A company that values 'fun' should be teaming with 'fun' stories. It's a little difficult, however, to have 'fun' stories without fun experiences.
We've developed a story-based approach for embedding values. Send us an email if you would like to explore using this approach in your organisation.
Is really listening to someone about your listening abilities, or is it about your motivation to listen? Is it about the 'skills' of listening or is it the desire to want to listen that makes the difference?
I have been running a series of workshops lately where we do a very simple listening exercise that gets the participants to actually feel what it is like not to be listened too. The exercise takes it from being a purely rational/logical thing (i.e. "I know that not being listened too isn't nice") to one where they actually feel the anger, frustration and almost diminishing sense of self worth that comes when you are not being listened too.
At the end of the exercise I do a de-brief and one of the questions I ask is; "What do you think is more important when you listen - your ability to listen, or your desire to listen?" You can see people have this light bulb moment as they realise it is not the ability side of listening that they are struggling with, it's the motivation to want to listen in the first place.
When asked they can all tell you what you need to do to be able to listen better, from a skills perspective - mirror body language, lean forward, make eye contact, avoid distractions etc. etc. A good outline of some of these were covered in a blog Shawn did in May last year.
However, these things only become useful if you want to listen in the first place.
For me listening, really listening to someone, is an issue of motivation first and foremost. Once I want to listen to you, then my skills and abilities to listen can really kick in.
We have been using narrative approaches for many years to help organisations with employee engagement. This 4 minute youtube video gives some insights into some of the things we've notice working in this field and some examples of behaviours that can build or undermine engagement. In 2009, we also posted a detailed description of how narrative can be applied to this challenge.
I stumbled across a blog post yesterday from Bob Sutton where he referred to the 'Otis Redding Problem'.
This is where you put in place too many metrics to measure individuals, teams, or business units. meaning they can’t even think about all of them at once. They therefore end-up doing what they believe are important or that will bring them rewards.
This is based on the line from the famous Otis Redding song Sitting By the Dock of the Bay; “Can’t do what ten people tell me to do, so I guess I’ll remain the same.”
This triggered a thought for me about how you could potentially use musical artists, lyrics or song names in an exercise.
Say you wanted to explore levels of engagement within a team or department. Asking straight out is unlikely to get you an accurate picture, depending on the culture, environment, who is present etc.
What you could do is get groups to come up with, say, a written 'Playlist' of songs that sum up levels of engagement for them within the team. Or you could give them an iPod and get them to actually create one and play it back to the room.
Maybe instead you could introduce them to the 'Otis Redding Problem' and then get them to come up with their own examples within the team, based on song lyrics.
I just think this type of method allows people some safety and security to "discuss the undiscussable". It allows them to distance themselves from openly expressing how they feel, and the dangers that presents, just as archetypes or metaphor exercises might allow. It also creates a bit of fun, and lets people express some of their creativity and musical knowledge!
Anyone ever used anything like this and wanted to share how it went? Or does anyone have their own ideas on Problems/Dilemmas/Scenarios in the 'Otis Redding Problem' vein? Love to hear your thoughts.
When we collect stories in companies one of the most common anecdotes is the one about the boss who fails to recognise their staff's work. People want to be thanked, appreciated, recognised regardless of their level in the organisation or their level of skill or expertise.
Dan Ariely conducted a simple experiment described in his latest book, The Upside of Irrationality, which shows that a simple nod of appreciation is more than a nicety, it's a business necessity.
This is how it worked. Imagine a room where you might have a university exam--hopefully this doesn't send chills down your spine. Sitting up front is the invigilator keeping an eye on your every move and ready to collect your paper at the end. In this case each person collects a single sheet of paper from the invigilator that's covered in words. Your task is to circle any two letters that sit side-by-side and are the same. When you finish one page you return it to the invigilator and get another sheet until you can't be bothered doing it any more.
There are three groups in this experiment.
For the first group when they return their sheet the invigilator gives a friendly smile and a nod of thanks.
People in the second group returning their paper are ignored. The invigilator doesn't even look up. Their sheet is turned faced down onto a pile and without a word a new sheet is given.
The invigilator for the third group takes the sheet and without looking at the contents shreds it in front of the participant before handing them another sheet of paper to work on.
On avergae the first group that gets the nod of appreciation complete 9.03 sheets. Not bad for such a boring task.
The third group are ritually humiliated by the invigilator by shedding their work complete on average 6.34 sheets.
So what do you think happened for those people who were ignored? Are they somewhere in between groups 1 and 3?
Group three who received no feedback completed on average 6.77 sheets, very similar to those people who were practically abused as their efforts were destroyed before their eyes.
It would seem that authentic appreciation for a job well done goes along way to boost productivity and if you are one of these bosses who figures, "hey, they're smart people who know what to do. They don't need my praise." think again. You could be really holding them back.