I'm blogging every day in May, for no particular reason other than I can. I've come up with 31 topics and I'm going to bash on my keyboard about each of them. You can find them here every day or sign up to get an email with them (scroll down). If you enjoy them then you're welcome; if you don't, then why are you still here?
Encouragement is great isn't it? It's an essential part of life, a part of why stuff happens and an absolute essential if you're line managing people.
If there's one thing I've learned that's different about managing people in an office-type job instead of a shop-type job it's that encouragement is not only an essential in the former and optional in the latter but also is something that people don't produce all for themselves.
I've always been rather self-sufficient in this department. Lucky enough to only have to do stuff I enjoyed or, as I like to see it, I've been lucky enough to think in a way that means I can find a reason to do almost anything I've ever been asked to.
There's no other way that I'd have survived those years sat in a call centre asking people what they thought about a recent visit to a bank branch otherwise.
But encouragement is a tricky thing, so it seems. I found myself mightily discouraged a couple of months ago by what the giver probably thought would be tremendous help.
You see, I think encouragement becomes significantly demotivating when it's used to try and encourage something which is being viewed as impossible. I received just this kind of effect recently when my tutor emailed me about deferring my final submission on the CIPR Diploma in Public Relations which I was originally due to finish in April.
You see, work got a little bit hectic as we grew the amount of work we were doing by half and it all culminated on 31 March - the same day as 'hand in' for the 6,000 word final research project was due.
I enquired about deferring and my tutor gave me the information I needed, including confirming that there was pretty much no reason not to 'go late'. No penalty, and a hell of a weight off my mind.
But she followed it up with an encouragement to do as much as possible and try and head for the first deadline anyway. Most people loose momentum if they don't finish it first time, and I might be surprised by what I could get done she reasoned.
It's a fair call, but it continued. Having confirmed by reply that I wanted to go ahead with the deferral I was again encouraged to 'get it out of the way' and go for the earlier deadline.
As it was I managed to complete about 1,500 words ahead of the deadline - and all in the lit review.
While the (demotivating) encouragement didn't really have a negative effect on my work, it really did make me question whether I was being monumentally stupid and missing something in making the decision.
She seemed very keen, and seemed to be inferring I was making the wrong call. I'm sure she meant nothing by it, and otherwise her advice has been spot on, but the issue remained.
So after a year of learning how useful encouragement can be (and that other people need it, too) this year also taught me that encouragement can be discouraging if someone's made their mind up.
So if someone comes to me in a similar situation I'm going to make sure I encourage their decision, provided they're not missing something of course, instead.
We all face so many pressures from so many directions that helping the tide of good decisions along probably isn't a bad thing.
Photo credit: Foter.com
Subscribe to Nic Parkes
Get the latest posts delivered right to your inbox