Written by Josh O'Riordan
May 16, 2017

Encouragement changes everything

How we learnt to praise each other honestly and openly

Kudos is hard to find

Once upon a time, on an online HR system far, far away, we had a kudos board (it is probably still there…)

We used it. But, only a handful of times.

The barriers to posting kudos on an online system were just too high for us to use it regularly.

To add our kudos comments, we had to; log in each time, navigate through menus to the kudos board, select the user and then sit there thinking of something witty and pithy to say. 

On top of this, you had to log in again to see any kudos given to you. It was all too much. 

Are we really talking about this?

For companies such as ours, we face a common issue - it’s not straightforward to celebrate our successes.

We’re making products for others, and in doing so, they get to celebrate the success of them. They (rightly so) receive the benefit/sales/acknowledgment for their great product.

As for us, we get the satisfaction of a job well done. However, that’s not the same as celebrating that job.

A little while ago I read a short book on encouragement; “Encouragement Changes Everything” by John Maxwell. It drilled home the need for encouragement in our lives and how it sustains and builds us.

After reading the book I wanted to see how our team was doing with encouragement and in my coaching sessions with colleagues I would pose the question: “Do you feel encouraged?”.

The answers surprised me.

Everyone I spoke to gave a hesitant; “no…but…” or at best a “not sure”.

They loved working in the company they loved the culture we have, they loved the team, the management, pretty much everything. But, did they feel encouraged? “hmmm, not especially”.

Naturally, this led me to wonder that if everyone is happy and we are doing well, then why try and fix it? But, I wanted to dig deeper.

"The satisfaction of doing a great job isn't the same as celebrating that great job."

Why is praise important?

At Brightec we are proud of the culture we are creating and we have written often about our approach to it.

We have a freedom to fail, fail often and fail fast.

We are free to ask questions and try solutions as we see fit and we encourage each other to do so regularly.

We are always looking for the lessons in our failures. The thing to improve, rewrite or refactor. 

Imagine for a moment though if that is all we did.

It would be discouraging to work in an environment that only focussed on your failings. Our eagerness to allow anyone on the team to fail can mean that we become blasé about our triumphs.

Remember the core values

One of our core values as a company is being Driven, which we define as:

“Striving for continuous improvement to deliver polished work that exceeds expectations”.

There are two parts of that statement:

1. Continuous improvement — Whenever we see a chink or a crack in what we do (no matter how small or shallow) we work hard to fix it.

2. Exceeding expectations — We don’t just fix it, we make it as strong as we can, and as good as everything else we are proud of.

This clearly means being ‘ok’ with something, isn’t the Brightec way.

"An eagerness to allow anyone on the team to fail can mean that we become blasé about our triumphs"

Doing it the Brightec way

When we want to engage each other with something that we think is important, we usually try to find a physical way of doing it.

The added sense of ownership over something we physically interact with helps us to keep coming back to it. We do this with things like kanban boards, schedules etc.

Well, guess what, we went physical with this too.

We now have a kudos board in our kitchen that is the focal point of our encouragement giving.

IMG_9470.jpg

The simple, but deliberate act of giving kudos in an engaging way has honed our culture and strengthened our team.

In my next blog post I’ll take a much deeper dive into; How it works, How we use it and When we use it.

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