An important aspect of being a manager is recognizing the contributions of your hard-working people, those individuals that are performing their jobs at a consistently high level. The simple act of recognizing someone’s positive contributions will encourage and inspire them to sustain their efforts. This practice promotes worker engagement as defined by Gallup Inc. in their “12 Elements of Great Managing.”
In most organizations, 80% to 95% of all bus operators are found to be safe, reliable and courteous, but often, they don’t know it because nobody tells them. If safe bus operation represents a core value for your property, what are you leaders doing to encourage and reinforce the desired behaviors among your bus operators?
When we let our people know how much we appreciate their contributions, they will be more apt to perform at their best and less prone to cut corners that can lead to trouble. Recognition means a lot to your operators. Heck, everyone loves an honest compliment. So, when was the last time someone from management told a bus operator something specific about their performance that was positive? It is easy to overlook the importance of telling drivers they are doing a good job.
In his book, “Drive,” author Daniel Pink points out the importance of recognition and how it motivates us to achieve mastery. Due to our inherent nature, we actually want feedback — we want to know how we are doing and get excited by the progress we are making through our efforts.
Being recognized as a master mechanic, an ace driver, or the “friendliest” operator brings distinction, and ultimately, a sense of pride in our accomplishments.
If every operator truly strives for excellence — the agency wins, our passengers win and your employees win. This represents the Triple Crown for transit.
In his BBC television documentary series, “The Ascent of Man,” Jacob Bronowski suggests the most powerful drive in humans is pleasure in our own skills. We love to do what we do well, and having done a task well, we will strive to do it even better so we can marvel at our own abilities.
When seeking mastery, people become fully engaged and will push themselves to become “the best” at something that matters to them. Clear, objective and “actionable” feedback is the fuel that drives developing operators forward in their pursuit of perfection.
Consistent reinforcement of desired behaviors by managers and supervisors will keep operators focused on doing the right things at the right times.
When we foster a culture within our organizations that consistently recognizes contribution and proficiency, operators will become much more open to objective feedback — even if it takes the form of correction and/or discipline. This is due to the trust that will develop when operators know that their daily work is being valued, fairly measured, and that management is committed toward helping them by providing the tools and support needed for their success.
Steve Mentzer is manager, transit simulations, training & courseware, L-3 D.P. Associates.
In case you missed it...
Read our previous blog, "Creating Standards in Bus Operations."