Do you feel cared for in your job? Do your subordinates feel that the company cares about them? If the answer is yes, then your business is likely to thrive.
Caring is something that I believed in all my life, but I never knew there was empirical data to support those beliefs until I met Dr. David Paul. Dr. Paul has several decades of professional management experience as well as teaching undergraduate and graduate business courses where he was able to test and implement the caring principles. His Doctoral research uncovered that the feelings of being cared for correlated with a huge increase in employee productivity, up to 10 times or more.
While many think of monetary rewards as the most important driver for employee motivation, studies prove that non-monetary rewards are more valuable. Dr. Paul's research focused on identifying elements that promote feelings of care in employees and the three major motivational attributes: Regard, Respect, and Reward. Regard, the attribute closest to caring, came in as the top motivational factor for over 40% of all individuals and groups. Regard had the strongest lead in the following categories: Personal Interest and Connection; Feelings Are Taken into Consideration; and Professional Growth and Nurturing. If we make employees feel that we are actively interested in their professional growth and also their feelings, their productivity will increase.
Caring reaches far beyond the workplace. I've observed that best performance from others and myself happened in caring environments, whether they involved athletic activities, playing games, volunteering, or anything professional. I've seen plenty of successes and failures caused by caring or lack thereof. Below are a few examples from my own past.
As a child, I trained on a soccer team in Europe where I had a wonderful coach who believed in me and pushed me to excel. I was better than most boys 2-3 years older and thought I would be the next Pele. Then one day my coach quit. The new coach cared little for any of us and after three years of hard daily training I simply walked off the field. I still play pick-up soccer and watch a few games when I find the time, but I never got back to the skill level I had as a child. I don't regret keeping soccer as a hobby rather than life-long pursuit as I see how the grueling game schedule and training strains the players physically and hurts their relationships.
I did use my soccer passion to improve work dynamics. I formed a team to bridge the gap between different age groups and projects. We did not do too well in the beginning, but as I made my colleagues more aware that I cared about them and would support them no matter how many mistakes they had made, the team got better and better. I had to make tough choices and cut really talented players who disrupted our team chemistry as my goal was to increase collaboration and team building and not win the league. My proudest moment was seeing my colleagues encourage each other after bad plays and passing to teammates when they had chances to score themselves.
I've had wonderful mentors wherever I worked and attribute much of my success to their caring ways. I was an average performer on one project early in my career where I had no overly caring managers or challenging tasks until a new manager asked for support on a critical information security project. I was by no means an expert in the field, but this manager believed in me and gave me his full support. He sponsored additional training and let me take charge of key tasks. In the end, I surprised even myself with how much I achieved. It was because this manager recognized my full potential at the time when I was still unsure of my own abilities, my only accomplishments being college degrees and a few years experience.
I've used the same caring principles to grow my own teams and turn around lackluster performances of my subordinates. I had to invest more time in their development and support their learning, but it paid back quickly as I was able to delegate more tasks to them and use my time on more pressing projects. Everyone benefits from caring, no matter the age group, even Generation-Y.
Stay tuned for more of Dr. Paul's guidance on how to become more caring people in all areas of our lives, not just our jobs.
Looking forward to hearing other examples where caring or lack thereof made a difference,