One Minute Manager

by Ken Blanchard

Recognition and
Situational Leadership II

More than 3 million managers have been trained in situational leadership, the contingency model I developed with Paul Hersey more than 25 years ago. Each year, new applications of the model are created as managers look to build on its framework and utility during dynamic, changing times. One of these applications was recently brought to my attention by Bob Nelson, a vice president at Blanchard Training and Development and author of the best-selling book, 1001 Ways to Reward Employees.

Situational Leadership II promotes the philosophy that the best managers provide employees with direction and support for successful task completion. A similar differentiation concerning employees' developmental levels can be made when deciding how best to recognize them for their efforts-an increasingly important activity when managing today. The following provides an overview of the four developmental styles that make up Situational Leadership II (see right).

Enthusiastic beginner (D)-A new employee is usually motivated, enthusiastic and excited about the opportunity to do something new. This person is already very motivated, requiring only a limited amount of support from his or her manager. What the person doesn't have is much information about the job-what exactly is needed, how best to approach the task, etc.

How to recognize: Managers of enthusiastic beginners need to provide specific instruction. As beginners progress and have questions regarding the task, the best way to recognize them is to provide specific answers to get them back on track. Employees need specific direction and redirection; they need attention.

Disillusioned learner (D2)-This stage of a job occurs when "the honeymoon is over." At this stage, the initial excitement of the job has worn off, and some aspects of the job have proved more difficult than originally anticipated. Because the employee is still learning and has little to show for his or her effort, the difficulties are especially frustrating.

How to recognize: Employees at this stage need performance feedback. Praisings that are sincere, specific, timely acknowledgments of progress toward the desired goal reinforce desired performance. The best praisings are done face to face, but written praisings are also effective. And don't forget to redirect your employees.

Capable but cautious contributor (D3)-Once employees complete a task successfully, they demonstrate that they can do the job. But having only done it once, employees haven't had enough time to gain confidence in their abilities. As a result, employees tend to be overly cautious and reluctant to repeat their success with the job.

How to recognize: Managers of D3 employees need to provide clear, positive recognition. This can be done in hundreds of ways-the best of which often cost little or nothing.

At the same time, managers need to encourage employees to repeat their performance and continue to be available to listen or brainstorm with the employee about improvements or problems. At the D3 level, recognition for achieving a goal is the best form of reinforcement.

Self-reliant achiever (D4)-At this stage of development, an employee has demonstrated competence and commitment to doing the job, and has essentially become self-managed.

How to recognize: High performers also need recognition, or they may come to feel taken advantage of. Their needs have shifted, and although they may still appreciate a sincere thank you for a job well done, they are apt to feel even more appreciated if you use a "higher order" incentive. Asking them to train others, granting them more autonomy, allowing them to select job assignments, involving them in decisions and increasing their visibility in the organization are all appropriate.

All behavior is a function of its consequences. As managers harness the power of this statement in providing recognition and rewards to reinforce desired behavior and performance within the established framework of Situational Leadership II, the result will be more satisfied and productive employees and managers.

About the author

Ken Blanchard is chairman of Blanchard Training and Development Inc. in Escondido, California. He is author and co-author of 12 books, including the One Minute Manager series.

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