Have you ever heard the phrase “red-headed stepchild?” Or, perhaps, the more politically correct version, less favored or forgotten child?  I think I’ve heard it every time I’ve done a focus group or listening session in any part of a company.  “Nobody thinks of us in the (insert name) plant/group/function.”

At the core of our beings, we want to be noticed, cared about and appreciated.  All employees want to know that someone somewhere knows they exist or sees and values the work they’re doing.

Denise Ramos gave a perfect example of this in her interview.  When she visited a small valves plant, the employees’ first question was, “What does corporate say about Amory, Mississippi?” She said, “Not much.”  But then she gave them an opportunity to put themselves on the map, “Do this Lean transformation in a very powerful way and I will hold you up as a role model for the rest of the organization.”  That’s strong motivation, because we all want to be great.  Even if we’re naturally humble, we want people to see our greatness.

So, while we talk a lot about the value of stories to engage emotions and share examples to illustrate what we’re doing, it’s also nice to recognize the value to the subjects of the story.  As Denise shares the story of the Amory plant, investors get a clearer picture of how Lean can be used to improve an operation AND the employees at the plant get a shot of pride to keep on going with their transformation.

Employees may not always see their own success or offer it up in a form of self-promotion, but they will generally feel really good when you recognize their success and showcase their work as an example for others to follow.  I truly believe that success breeds success.  When people are on a roll, they’ll keep performing with the confidence and pride they get from doing a good job.

Of course, the recognition needs to be sincere and real, but it’s a good reminder to actively look around and see the successes and forward movements that happen every day.  Sharing stories and recognizing the behaviors and results we want to see, builds confidence that change can happen and gives a boost that can lead to more and more success.