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Valuing vs. Evaluating Your Employees

Furniture World Magazine


Even if employees are evaluated, they probably don’t feel valued.

Winning Bragging Rights by Dr. Peter A. Marino

Probably, few major organizations skip the practice of annually evaluating their employees. Would that those same organizations were as conscientious about the practice of letting their people feel valued. The key word is feel. Recently, a storeowner told me that, “Our people must know that we value them. How can they not know that? Look at all the things we do for them. Believe us: We do value our people.”

Because I had known this owner for some time, I knew that he was right. He did value his people. But what he didn’t know was that his people didn’t feel valued.

Several key store employees confided that feeling to me. “We like our store management and we appreciate the fine store that’s been put together for us. But they hardly ever tell us how much they appreciate us. Sure, we occasionally get the pat on the back, but more often than not we get the feeling that management isn’t really aware of all that we do for them.”

Unless owners and managers are skilled in the techniques of letting their people feel valued, chances are high that their people don’t feel valued. The situation just described is not much different from that of the man who loved his wife so much that he almost told her so!
While there are those owners and managers on whom Nature, as it were, has bestowed the gift of letting their people feel valued, they are rare indeed. IQ must have little to do with this gift. Some of the brightest owners and managers seem not to have the slightest clue of how to go about letting their people feel valued.

How do employees end up feeling valued and appreciated by owners and managers? In his booklet, Motivating Today’s Employees, Bob Nelson presents the results of three studies, one, a 1940 study conducted by Lawrence Lindahl, a second and a third backed up by Ken Kovach’s similar study in 1981, and the author Bob Nelson’s 1991 study. In these studies, managers and their employees were asked to rank 10 selected motivating factors. The managers ranked good wages and job security first and second respectively. The employees ranked full appreciation for work done and feeling “in” on things first and second respectively.

Readers should note that the managers’ two choices coincide with the two lowest needs on Maslow’s pyramid, while the employees’ two choices coincide with the two highest needs on the same pyramid. For more information on Maslow, see, “Uncovering Your Customers’ Hierarchy Of Needs” in the August/ September 2006 issue of FURNITURE WORLD (posted to www.furninfo.com). Readers should also note the inclusion of the word feeling in the phrase “feeling ‘in’ on things,” and the inclusion of the word full in the phrase “full appreciation for work done.” Full appreciation cannot be full if it is not felt.

A practical way by which employees can be made to feel fully appreciated and in on things on a consistent basis lies in one of the statements in Michael Nichols’ book, The Lost Art of Listening: “All human beings yearn to be listened to.” Of course they do. The average American adult listens at 25 percent proficiency; no wonder all human beings yearn to be listened to.

That average proficiency is not likely to change since active listening, unlike hearing, is a skill. Like all skills, active listening must be learned and practiced.

This article cannot hope, in this short space, to comment on all the ways in which owners and managers can learn to do all that is required to make their employees feel appreciated. I’ll simply include the “three-step crediting” technique for work well done:

•Point out the specific task that deserves crediting.

•Mention the attribute required of the performer: loyalty, hard work, patience, active listening skills, etc.

•Point out who benefited from the performance.
In one of his seminars, Zig Ziglar recites a stirring example of the effectiveness of three-step crediting. It seems the participants in one of his seminars had not only left a waiter a large tip for his services, but had also left a note in which they credited him by employing the three steps mentioned above. As they were in the parking lot saying their goodbyes, they noticed the waiter running towards them. As he approached closer, they noticed he had tears in his eyes. One of the participants, believing he was there to thank them for the tip, assured the waiter he deserved it. “No,” he replied, “I appreciate your generous tip. But what I appreciate even more is the note you left me. I have been a waiter for more years than I care to mention, but I have never been as moved as I was by your note.”

To all you owners and managers out there – even the best of you – learn to credit your people. Tom Peters writes that once a credit is deserved, “the sky’s the limit.” Maslow observed that an undeserved credit turns employees off.

Yes, annual evaluations of your employees are important. But valuing your employees on a consistent basis will do much more than those evaluations to let your people feel fully appreciated, fully in on things, and fully listened to. And you won’t have to go to your accountant to readjust the company budget. Crediting your employees won’t cost you a dime; not crediting them can cost you a fortune.

Trainer, educator and group leader Dr. Peter A. Marino writes extensively on sales training techniques and their furniture retailing applications. He has deep experience as a top salesman, sales manager, corporate trainer and consultant. Dr. Marino has undergraduate degrees in English and philosophy and a Ph. D. in ancient Greek and Latin. His books include “The Golden Rules of Selling Bedding”, “Stop Losing Those Bedding Sales” and “It’s Buying, Silly!” available through FURNITURE WORLD. Questions can be sent to Peter Marino at pmarino@furninfo.com. You can read all of Dr. Marino’s articles on furninfo.com in the Sales Skill article archive.