Slacker Manager offers this great post about how when things work they can be invisible and how this is a challenge for managers who want to recognize team members when things are going well (and not just when all &*%@ breaks loose). Check out the post and the various comments – interesting stuff.
Here’s another take on invisibility – perhaps it’s good.
I have blogged a bunch on Flow and on intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. While I think it is fine to recognize performance, most of what I see managers doing is forced and useless.
What kind of environment facilitates flow and high performance? One where people enjoy their work and are engaged in making a difference. I have been a member of several awesome teams throughout my career and when things are going well, no external pats on the back are necessary and, in fact, they would be destructive.
When things gel and are going well, there’s a feeling that team members experience that is self reinforcing.
Great management means serving the team and company well. The best managers can do this without making people feel “managed.” If people are feeling unappreciated, asking the manager to “go appreciate them” is the wrong advice, I think. The team needs something entirely different.
So perhaps being an invisible manager is sometimes best!
Before you send me a nasty note (but go ahead if you feel like it), let me clarify and say that I am not suggesting that good performance should be ignored. I am a huge fan of offering sincere appreciation – as a spontaneous expression, not a mechanized practice.
I think about flow again. The flow experiences I have had share a few things in common, including invisibility. Work just flows, productivity flows, communication flows, feelings of satisfaction flow. Nobody is feeling like they need to remember to provide positive reinforcement – flow is a self satisfying and reinforceing experience and this is much more powerful.
So what’s the bottom line?
Managers who are open and create an environment that is jazzed, productive, fun, and where people can do their best work don’t need to worry about when and how much they appreciate people.
What do you think?