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3 (Cheap) Tips to Win Over Staffers

These ideas are not only light on your budget, they will also get you results quickly. Vasanthi Srinivasan, Associate Professor, Organizational Behavior & Human Resources Management, IIMB, tells you why they work.

Thank Them

Mary Kay Ash, Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, once famously said, "There are two things people want more than sex and money: Praise and recognition."

That's exactly why CIOs need to thank their staffers. Fairly obvious but it bears repetition. The use of praise to retain employees is one of the most important tools in a leader's arsenal. Sure, staffers are just doing their jobs, but a little praise can get them to go that extra mile, which earns them more praise, and then you have a virtuous cycle.

"People want to make a difference," says Suzanne Bates in her book Motivate Like a CEO, "When they believe that what they are doing matters, it motivates them and stimulates their passion and energy."

However, some managers feel praising staffers too often can spoil them. HR experts say that is bunk. Positive reinforcement won't give employees horns.

But there are a few caveats to the praise strategy: don't praise someone when they don't deserve it. And be specific. Saying "nice job" can diminish the value of praise compared to "we tested out that idea of yours and I'm glad we asked your opinion!"

What Srinivasan thinks of this idea: Appreciating work that's done well is a good idea. We are very good at root cause analysis when it comes to failures, but how many times do we do a root cause analysis of our successes? It will allow us to replicate success easily.

Introduce More Accountability

Most experts in people management will tell you that there's nothing like tapping into self-motivation to find that holy grail of HR: employee passion.

To get there, CIOs must first build an environment of accountability. Staffers love leaders who communicate their expectations and hold people to their commitments. They also love a good challenge. Believe it or not, giving people more work actually wins them over. And once they have tasted the exhilaration of being accountable and bringing home the results, they are hooked.

"By creating a culture of accountability," says Bates "you get results, and people feel greater satisfaction, which, in turn, re-energizes and motivates the organization."

What Srinivasan thinks of this idea: Accountability comes only with responsibility. And assigning people responsibility requires delegation and the heart of delegation is trust. Some of us trust more, some of us trust less, we all need to work on this.

Support Your Staff

CIOs work with knowledge workers, not laborers. Because what your staffers bring cannot be quantified easily, it is important to ensure they're putting in their best. One of the best ways to do that is to listen and support their ideas. This doesn't only extend to the sympathetic cluck when they're having a bad day. It means listening to their ideas for real. Yet how many times have you turned down an employee idea saying "that's not the way things are done here." Even if you were right, who doesn't agree that rules shouldn't come in the way of progress, and possibly, innovation?

What Srinivasan thinks of this idea: I have often found that we assign work to people and review but rarely ask them in between whether they need support. All of us -- at every level -- need support for anything we are doing for the first time. Even people who are do repeated tasks need support, maybe more psychological than physical or financial.

I'd add another to this list: Be fair and be seen to be fair. As a manager, please remember you are being watched by others. Therefore, it is not enough to be fair, it is important to be seen to be fair.


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