October 14, 2011

Every manager should read this book

How Full Is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and LifeHow Full Is Your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life by Tom Rath

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like parents who focus on the F's on a report card rather than the A's, many managers focus on critiquing weaknesses rather than developing strengths. But as "How Full is Your Bucket?" points out, our emotional buckets are filled by positive encounters and drained by negative ones.

Among the authors' key points:

* The Number One reason people leave their jobs is they don't feel appreciated.
* Praise must be meaningful and specific.
* Recognition is most appreciated and effective when it is individualized, specific, and deserved.
* Every interaction is an opportunity to fill someone's bucket -- or drain it.
* We are at our best when our buckets are full, and at our worst when they are empty.
* When we fill other people's buckets, we simultaneously fill our own.

Mind you, it's not possible to simply offer groundless praise. Every worker has room for improvement. But constructive feedback about what needs fixing is more effective when it's bracketed by genuine compliments and praise for strong points. Employees, like students and writers, need to build on their strengths in addition to improving their weaknesses.

Individualization is important, because while one worker may appreciate a plaque to hang on the wall, another might prefer some extra time off to spend with family. To aid in this, the book includes a "Bucket Filling Interview," which can help managers learn about what really motivates each employee.

The only drawback to this book -- although some might call it a strength -- is its brevity. I suspect there is much more to say on the subject of positive reinforcement in the workplace.

How Full is Your Bucket? will not only help managers encourage employees, it will help anyone see where they've been missing opportunities to fill other people's buckets.

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