By Morag Barrett
I have two questions for you.
Question number one, “How would you like to inspire your employees in a manner that excites them while increasing their productivity and their self-confidence?”
Question number two, “How would you like to gain such loyalty from employees that when you push them to perform at higher levels, they don't just respond, they overachieve?”
Sounds like a dream, right? But it’s actually much closer to reality than you think according to Howard Prager. Howard is a good friend & colleague of mine--and a very accomplished businessman. He’s president of Advance Learning Group, a speaker, executive coach, and a leadership consultant who strengthens peoples and organizations through insightful management programs and leadership development. He is a member of the Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches, and has extensive experience consulting, designing, and delivering executive education for Fortune 500 companies. His recent book, Make Someone’s Day delves into the power of simple, kind, considerate actions--and their ripple effects.
From Looking Towards the Stars to Developing Star Leaders
The first thing Howard remembers wanting to be was an astronaut--or an astronomer, or anything that allowed him to study the cosmos and their systems, really. He loved looking towards the galaxies above him and he knew that someone had to be in charge of knowing where those spacecrafts were going--and he was ready to volunteer. Luckily for us, he pivoted towards the social sciences, still following his love of hard sciences, and focused on organizational behavior.
The Inspiration Behind Make Someone's Day
Several years into his career, Howard was working in downtown Chicago and regularly took the early morning commuter train around 6:30 in the morning. One day he arrived at the station and noticed a young woman with a clipboard. The woman approached him and asked, "Would you mind signing my petition?" Howard, curious, asked, "Oh, what is it for?" The young woman responded in kind, explaining that she was trying to get someone she supported on a recent ballot--someone that Howard was familiar with. So, Howard signed her petition and while giving her clipboard back to her, he noticed that her eyes had grown large and happy. She blurted, "You made my day!" And with that, Howard was inspired. He spend the whole train ride trying to figure out three things:
Number one, what the heck did he do that was so incredible that it made her day?
Number two, what an amazing feeling it is knowing that he made her day -- he felt his own positive feelings surging off the charts
And number three, he wondered if there was a book here.
Spoiler: there was.
Howard discerned that he had witnessed a neurological phenomenon called the boomerang effect. That means that when you know you’ve made someone's day, when you see it in someone’s body language or they verbally express it to you, you’ll feel it as well -- that’s our body’s mirror neurons kicking in and reflecting back what the other person is experiencing. He wrote Making Someone’s Day to analyze this situation and others from people around the world in order to create a resource for anyone that wants to become a memorable manager. In all his years of leadership development, Howard had noticed that no matter how good the development program, leadership skills can often have a hard time sticking--but by utilizing this simple tool of making someone’s day, a leader can go from good to great, leadership program or not. Howard found that making someone’s day, by being considerate of their needs and being present with them, leaders would not only see strong support from their employees and greater productivity, but they'd have greater retention as well.
Making Someone’s Day -- Virtually
Unsurprisingly, this tool starts with the “like” button. Clicking the “like” button or making a comment on a social media post makes a huge difference, and their effects can be compared to older methods that were utilized with the intent of creating a more personable connection. Doug Conant, an older CEO of Campbell's, completely turned Campbell's around with methods as simple as a hand-written thank you note. Every week, Conant wrote between two and three hundred thank you notes just to people within Campbell's business. While not hand-written, liking and commenting on someone’s social media is the next best non-face-to-face action that can make someone feel witnessed, acknowledged, and considered--powerful feelings that are guaranteed to make someone’s day.
Watch away: Here!
Treat your earbuds: Here!