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NEWS | Aug. 6, 2015

The Power of Praise

By CMSgt. Mark Bronson 628th ABW

8/5/2015 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, SC -- Recently my Commander and I were asked to go to a civilian agency to present certificates of appreciation. The certificates were being given to employees who had traveled from another base to help with renovations at JB Charleston.  As I inquired more about why the employees were being recognized, it seemed to me that, while they had performed well, they had done what they were paid to do.  The "award" was a certificate the manager created and packaged in a nice folder to present to the employees.  Again, I was trying to understand why we were making a big deal about the service the employees provided, so I inquired a little further.  The manager stressed their great attitudes, how efficiently they completed their tasks and the knowledge they brought to the project.  It was starting to make a little more sense to me but I still didn't completely understand.

We walked to a small office in the back of the building. With the local staff around the periphery of the office and the "on loan" employees along the back wall, the manager began to speak.  She thanked the awardees for their commitment and dedication to the project. She emphasized that without these individuals the project would not have been completed as quickly, efficiently or smoothly as it had been done.  She called the first person forward to receive her certificate.  The typical "grip and grin" photo opportunity took place but then something happened I hadn't expected.  Tears started to flow from the eyes of the award recipient.  The next employee came forward with the same results.  I looked around the room and saw the flood of emotions from the permanent employees and those that were receiving recognition that day, almost all of them were crying. You see, they had poured their heart and soul into this project. They worked extra hard to do it right, quickly and with a great attitude. Being recognized for their efforts meant the world to them.  There were several minutes of crying and hugging with the "on loan" employees saying "thank you" over and over again.

A lesson I had learned a long time ago was reinforced in that moment.  A small note of thanks, a pat on the back or a more formal form of recognition goes a long way when someone has done an extraordinary job.  At a training course I attended last year, an example was given that validated this principle.  A large company spent a lot of money to research what made their employees happy.  The first year every employee completed a 50 question survey, the next year 25 questions and then 10 the next.  After several years of investigation and questionnaires, the results indicated employee motivation boiled down to one thing.  No it wasn't money or promotions, although those are certainly motivators.  Employee satisfaction was highest when they had a strong sense that what they do is important. Did their work have value and are they valued for doing that work?  Such a simple thing yet, sometimes it gets neglected.

I understand at every level we are busier than we have ever been. However, I issue this challenge to you.  Seek out opportunities to praise or thank someone.  It can be via an e-mail, a written note, a special coin, a pat on the back or a more official avenue such as submitting them for an award.  Whatever the method, I guarantee those you serve will appreciate it and be more motivated.