The More You Believe In Others, The More They'll Do To Prove You Right
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Posted by: Mark Gilfand
At a recent sales conference, achievement awards were being given to the people who had sold the most. I'll never forget the woman who received the highest award. She had performed superbly, made a great deal of money, but gave all the credit to her sales manager.
As she stood before the crowd of 3000 people, clutching her award as the top producer of the year, she talked about the slump she was in two years before. She said her future had looked so bleak that she had decided to quit on several occasions. But each time her manager persuaded her to stay. He kept telling her that she had great potential; indeed, he wouldn't have hired her if he hadn't believed in her.
The award winner continued her acceptance speech along those lines, but her concluding comment was most insightful. She said, "Through all those months when I wanted to quit, when I didn't think I had any future, my manager BELIEVED in me more than I believed in myself. He wanted me to succeed even more than I did. "
Just like that top performer, everyone has a deep reservoir of ability, a reservoir that goes untapped until someone believes in him. Quite simply, A PERSON DOES HIS BEST WHEN HE KNOWS SOMEONE BELIEVES IN HIM, AND HE DOES HIS WORST WHEN HE THINKS NO ONE BELIEVES IN HIM.
This is a basic truth in motivation. The problem is, most managers and leaders have not consciously, systematically used this truth to bring out the best in others. They haven't applied a step-by-step methodology of belief that will produce the results they want. I wonder why.
I think one of the reasons lies in the fact that many people do not understand how motivation works. They mistakenly think "no news is good news. "In other words, if the manager doesn't say anything to the employee, the employee can assume that everything is okay. The employee can assume that the manager believes in the employee.
Well managers can think that all they want, but that's not how employees think. Managerial silence or a lack of feedback does not get interpreted by the employees as a sign of positive belief. Employees interpret silence as a negative.
The no-news-is-good-news philosophy simply doesn't work. Even though the employee may know he has talent or has done a good job, he needs to know that the manager also believes that.
The second reason people don't use the power of belief has to do with a misunderstanding of management. Some managers think it's their duty to point out employee mistakes and suggest solutions. They adopt a problem- solving mindset and spend most of their time fighting fires, resolving difficulties, and fixing crises.
As a result, these managers are so busy with the problems that they forget to exhibit their belief in their employees. They spend all their time seeing their employees "as they are" instead of envisioning them "as they could be. "
This approach to management or leadership is half-baked at best. Certainly employees need guidelines. They need help with problems and limits on their empowerment. But the transformational leadership that brings out the best in others comes from a strong belief in the employee.
IF YOU'RE A LEADER OR MANAGER WHO DOESN'T "EXHIBIT" A STRONG BELIEF IN YOUR EMPLOYEES, YOU'RE PAYING A MIGHTY BIG PRICE FOR YOUR MISTAKE. At the very least, you're creating non-communicative employees.
When employees think you don't believe in them, they get fearful. And fearful people don't speak up or offer an opinion. They're too afraid to disagree, and they're unwilling to participate in team meetings. Their thoughts and feelings, if they ever do come out, come out behind your back where they do you no good whatsoever.
That's an obvious waste of employee insight and talent. You're losing their contributions to any improvements you might want to make.
You also create demoralized employees when you fail to "exhibit" your belief in them. The Russian military learned that after the Russian Revolution of 1917.
Their official communist policy became that of showing no overt signs of believing in the officers. All status signs were taken away. The officers swabbed their own quarters, ate with the rank and file, stood in line with the orderlies, received no privileges, salutes, or titles.
Overnight the military sank to its lowest level in military history. The officers were completely demoralized. They were worthless as soldiers to say nothing of their leadership. It soon became obvious what had happened, and Russia began to show overt belief in its officers. Medals, trophies, and titles were used generously to give distinction to all segments of the army.
Russia had overlooked one glaring, compelling fact in human behavior. To get the best from people, you must show that you believe in them. People will work harder for someone who believes in them than they will for almost anything else.
Belief costs nothing to apply and works wonders. So start BELIEVING.
Action on Motivation:
Select three people you want to "motivate" to higher levels of achievement. They may be your employees, your coworkers, or even your kids. Think of three ways you can communicate or "exhibit" your belief in each of them. Then do it. They'll get turned on, and they'll turn out better results.
©Dr. Alan R. Zimmerman, 20550 Lake Ridge Drive, Prior Lake, MN 55372. Reprinted with permission from Dr. Zimmerman's "Tuesday Tip," a weekly Internet newsletter. For your own personal subscription, go to www.drzimmerman.com.