The Power of Praise

It can’t always be about the money. Sometimes you have to let your team know that you’re proud of them and what they’ve accomplished. Simple words like that can take their game to the next level more than money ever will.

So many times, as agency principals and sales leaders, we feel like our producers are getting paid plenty of money, and that’s all they need. The fact of the matter is producers, as brazen as they can be, as outgoing as they can be, many times, in fact, probably most times, have relatively fragile egos. Today, I want to talk about why you need to let your producers know that you’re proud of them. Give them some positive feedback.

Common Sense Training

I read a lot, and one of the best books that I ever read on management was Whale Done by Ken Blanchard, and it’s a simple book. The whole premise has to do with the way they train the whales at SeaWorld. Now, listen, before you guys started going all Blackfish on me and sending me hate mail, I’m not here to debate whether it’s ethical or not for SeaWorld to have killer whales, but how they train them makes a whole lot of sense. And it’s the same way we should be looking at how we deal with our people.

Catch Them Doing Something Right

Truthfully, it even works with your kids. See, Blanchard’s whole premise in that book was that you reward people for doing something right. You catch them doing something right. Now, sometimes you’re going to catch them doing something wrong. Does that mean that you jump up and down and scream and make a big deal out of it? Nope, not. You want to do the opposite.

Subconsciously, the human brain is wired to replicate that behavior that gets us the attention we crave. So if we do something right and get praised for doing something right, and we’re caught doing something right, we like how it feels when we get that recognition and praise. As a result, we will continue to replicate that type of behavior because we get the reward we want.

Redirect Behaviors You Don’t Want

On the contrary, if we’re always screamed at and yelled at, whether it be by a parent, whether it be by our boss, whether it be by a client, subconsciously, we end up replicating that behavior because it also gives us the attention that we crave—weird concept. I know, I understand, but I mean, I didn’t invent the human brain. And I think we can all agree that it’s complicated. However, what’s not complicated is you, as a leader, your organization making a conscious decision to catch people doing something right.

Practical Application: Your Clients

Now, I want to make one more comparison too. Outside of the whole sales leader, producer mentality, it works with the risk management and safety culture of an organization. When we go in and engage with a new client, one of the first things we look at is whether or not they have any safety recognition program. And if they don’t, we advocate for them to put one in immediately. And basically, all it involves is recognition when leadership catches people doing something right.

The easiest way to do this is with raffle tickets because there are two sections, and you can tear them off. One of them gets handed to the employee who got caught doing what you wanted them to do, and the other half goes into a fishbowl. At the end of the month, you can decide how many prizes you want to give out, but you bring the whole team together in a big huddle, outcomes the fishbowl, and guess what? You start picking up names.

And those people whose names get picked can go to a prize closet, which may be in human resources or maybe in the owner or the manager’s office; it doesn’t matter, and they can pick. Sometimes you might want to offer movie tickets or gift cards to restaurants. A lot of times, it’s unique, exclusive, company-branded apparel. Whatever it is, it’s a prime opportunity for you to replicate the behavior you want from people by catching them doing something right.

If you’ve never done this before, I challenge you to try it; whether it be with your subordinates, whether it be with your children, whether it be with your spouse, it works in any relationship where someone wants validation from you. We can make all the money that we wish to, but hearing someone tell us that they’re proud of what we’ve accomplished, ultimately is the best reward we can get.

If you can learn how to shift the culture of your organization to one that is catching people who do something right, you’re going to kill it in commercial insurance.



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