Mark Twain once said, "I can live for two months on a good compliment." Find out how a good word can improve company focus, enrich customer commitment and increase productivity.


Leadership means inspiring and rallying people to endorse — and believe in — a common cause. As a third-generation business owner who worked as a field technician and moved up through supervisory and eventually management positions, I’m amazed at how much people can accomplish when they are inspired to be great. 

I learned — the hard way — like most who grow up working in a family business with no formal leadership education that leading and managing are two completely different things and have completely different results. 

Employee recognition tops the list of ways we’ve managed to improve our company focus, enrich customer commitment and increase productivity. 

Related: Building the Business: C’Mon,  Get Happy!

1. Monthly recognition: Recognizing an “Operations Employee of the Month” creates a fun, easy way to reward a star performer and inspire others to perform well. In business, a little competition is a good thing and our team members strive to be great, while supporting each other has brought a common bond to our team that is infectious.

2. Contributions and accomplishments: Recognize employees’ contributions and accomplishments (not always major ones) through a company newsletter and social media outlets.

Our company Facebook page is not intended to reach our customers like many small businesses, but rather to interact with our employees, their families and friends, and build our brand as a recognizable and positive one in our region. This helps us achieve our goal of being the employer of choice in our area.

Related: 10 Tips for Being a Better Leader

3. Weekly shout-outs: Recognize employees’ outstanding behavior at weekly team and monthly company meetings. Heck, sometimes we even clap and cheer, and that makes people smile. Fun and energy inspire greatness: We embrace having fun at work, and we pat each other on the back for a job well done.

4. Continuous company improvement program: This program puts the responsibility of improving the company in the hands of every company employee. Each week employees are responsible for using a written improvement worksheet to document lessons learned, opportunities, weaknesses and strengths of our people, processes and products. This link from every employee directly to company owners inspires a true ownership in solving problems that positively affects our company and makes a hard day’s work even more rewarding. 

As a business that delivers very technical services like robotic CCTV inspections, trenchless rehabilitation and many others, it is essential that we never lose sight of where our true success lies — our people’s ability to strive for greatness. 

Related: How To Be a Great Employer

In good times and bad, good leaders will outperform good managers every time, and in this industry engaged, inspired employees will outperform unengaged and uninspired employees every time. It is up to us to lead and inspire our people. 

About the Author

Matt Timberlake is vice president of Ted Berry Company Inc., a municipal and industrial services and trenchless technologies company located in Livermore, Maine.

Contact him at matt@tedberrycompany.com or www.tedberrycompany.com.


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