The Rising Tide that floats all boats: How to recognise employees effectively

The saying “a rising tide floats all boats” is thrown around a lot. When it comes to employee engagement, a company that encourages and recognises its employees will almost certainly find itself able to do good work.

There is of course a fine balance between positive forces such as encouragement and recognition and political statements. It can be easy to get caught up in the politics of actively calling out employees for their good work. For these reasons, we will outline how to actively “float all boats”, instead of giving select recognition to employees for political favour.

A rising tide

Building a company culture that allows for encouragement is very difficult. As a manager, it’s very easy to view your role as merely about resource allocation. With this view of management, most roles can seem like having a blanket that doesn’t quite fit over your body; if you move the blanket over, you end up getting a lack of coverage elsewhere.
Of course, this type of feeling as a manager is frustrating. No matter how hard you try, no matter how much you stretch your resources, it always feels like you can’t quite win. The blanket doesn’t fit, and you’re always a little bit dissatisfied.

So what can you as a manager do to help this?
The hardest part in all this is being able to step outside of the management “square” to see what is actually taking place. If you as a manager feel that you aren’t able to stretch your employees to cover everything, then maybe you have a “capacity problem”. A capacity problem occurs when employees aren’t able to work to their full potential, or more broadly speaking, your resources cannot perform their complete workload. Adopting a “rising tide” approach to resource management can help you get the most out of your existing resources.

A rising tide approach simply says that you treat your employees equally, and to focus on the performance of the lowest performing employee. Doing this will enable you to see that you’re not in a position of resource management, but rather in the position of “capacity management”. Reframing this attitude will let you see your people as a collection of persons, and a complete team that can only move if even the lowest performing employee is only fractionally worse than the top performer.

Floating all boats

The way you can create a rising tide culture is to simply “float all boats”. The saying “whatever floats your boat” may be loosely adopted in this regard. Finding a way to cater to the individual persons needs and encourage them in the way that best suits their personality type is far better than using generic terms such as “love your work” and so on.

Being able to cater your management style to all the personality types within your team will allow you to create a rising tide by floating all boats. It can be difficult to do at first, but by actively recognising your employees for their good work, you set yourself up for success in the future.

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.

Busywork: A guide to making work more fun, and avoiding work for work’s sake

Welcome to our series on classical novels, and relating them to the employee engagement. We hope you enjoy understanding a little bit more about how to engage employees, and build a company culture, and can use them to take away

In Oscar Wilde’s famous comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, the main characters are constantly concerned with maintaining their fictitious personas in order to keep up appearances and escape the social obligations upon which they are burdened. In many companies, employees will engage in this exact type of comedic behaviour to escape, which for the sake of this exercise we shall refer to as “busywork”.


“Busywork” is what happens when we take work too seriously

Busywork is defined as making work for work’s sake. The great author Franz Kafka became obsessed with this type of work in his writings. One of the most classical examples in his novel “Metamorphosis” involves a man who has been transformed into a bug, and yet his only concern for his day is how he goes about getting to work on time. Kafka’s novels were littered with references to Busywork, stemming from his belief that many of the processes that we as humans undergo in our day to day lives are only there to provide someone else a job. For instance, he believed that most bureaucracy was fundamentally meaningless, and simply moving a series of forms from one place to another, and then back again.

Franz Kafka himself worked within the insurance industry, and spent many of his days moving pieces of paper around his office. Kafka was able to distill the feeling that he felt working in insurance into his novels, eventually being donned the term “Kafka-esque”. Of course, we know that insurance itself is a very important part of society, but working in insurance, it can be hard to see that your work matters.

Busywork is what happens when everyone within a company takes their work too seriously. If a company culture does not allow for fun, employees will find things to do that may or may not assist existing company processes. Often this comes in the form of pretending to do work, but actually doing nothing. Not only is this type of work detrimental to the bottom line, but it is detrimental to the company culture.

How do you prevent busywork? Make work fun!

The best way to prevent busywork is to ensure that no matter what, under all costs, employees have a way to make their work fun. Facebook famously holds their own internal hackathons (as do Google). Twitter used to hold it’s own parties (until recently), and there are many, many other examples of companies that ensure that they have “fun” activities that are a stone throw away.

To prevent busywork, you first need to try to redefine what productivity is. Being productive doesn’t necessarily mean staying at the office until late, as getting a good night’s sleep can be just as effective. It takes a mature management team to be able to look at it, and if done right you just might find your overall productivity increasing!

WooBoard is a peer to peer recognition platform where your employees can send public messages of thanks and appreciation to their colleagues. Sign up for your free 14-Day Trial of WooBoard today.