Consensus among the ranks

One of the fascinating aspects of publishing CausePlanet is learning about the numerous perspectives each author has about what makes you a successful nonprofit leader. Even more compelling is when two or more authors, with completely different backgrounds, align in their thinking. I love to point out these moments because there’s nothing like consensus to instigate change.

In our December feature from 2009, 12: The Elements of Great Managing by Rodd Wagner and James Harter, the authors draw from The Gallup Organization’s database—which now includes 10 million employee and manager interviews—to give real-life examples of how managers from around the world epitomize each of the 12 Elements.

In addition to the Gallup data, the authors use the latest insights from brain-imaging studies, genetics, psychology, behavioral economics and other scientific disciplines to reveal what drives good managers. Wagner and Harter’s 4th element is the power of private and public feedback:

4th Element: “Recognition and Praise”: In the busy nonprofit world—with minimal resources and a greater need for resources—there will always be problems. However, without a conscious effort to maintain recognition and praise, the negative events will overshadow the positive ones. Managers who fail to use the power of positive feedback diminish both their managerial effectiveness and the power of the salaries they are paying. One of the most effective ways of improving recognition of employees is to discover the forms of feedback that mean the most to them, i.e. knowing who prefers public praise to private praise, and vice versa.

In our current feature, Winning with a Culture of Recognition by Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine, the authors created an entire book out of Wagner and Harter’s 4th Element of great managing. Their belief is that strategic recognition plays a critical role in every organization’s success. In fact, they claim that even in tough-minded cultures like the military, positive reinforcement is a powerful driver of a winning culture.

“U.S. Marine training might be strenuous and even abusive, but that initiation process is not the winning culture. The stress of Marine boot camp serves as much to identify Marines as to train them. Once established as a marine, an individual experiences profound recognition on a daily basis—reinforced by mottos, the uniform, the unit cohesion, the intense group loyalty. Marines display recognition for their service and sacrifice on their uniforms in the form of medals, ribbons, and rank insignia. All these inspire pride and internal reward. Marine culture is intensely about recognition,” say Mosley and Irvine.

I would call this convergence on strategic recognition consensus among the ranks. Don’t forget to recognize your employees today.

If you’re interested in discussing these book ideas and others with fellow nonprofit leaders, consider registering for a new virtual book club called Management Café, presented by the Nonprofit Cultivation Center. CausePlanet’s Page to Practice™ summaries will be the foundational subjects for facilitated discussions each month. You’ll have an opportunity to connect with your peers on hand-selected book topics from January to June 2012. Space is limited so register sooner than later.

See also:

Winning with a Culture of Recognition

12:The Elements of Great Managing

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