If you have employees, you are not only a photographer and a small business person but a manager of people. Unfortunately, all the photographic classes you took didn’t prepare you to motivate them. Motivated employees mean more productive employees, and that means lower labor costs. So here’s a suggestion I’ve found that is guaranteed to work every time.
I call it “catch your employees doing something right.” The concept is simple: instead of waiting until an employee makes a mistake and correcting them, give them specific praise when they do something right. It is important that the praise be specific so that the employee will know exactly what they did that pleased you, and that they should do again in the future.
Let me give you an example.
I have two equally-skilled employees that I train on Monday to lay out an album. My conversation for the week with the first employee goes like this:
Monday – Training
Tuesday – “Great job laying out the pictures. All the edges are even just like I asked.”
Wednesday – “I’m impressed by your selection of consistent borders. It is exactly the way I would have done it.”
Thursday – “This album isn’t up to our standards. The edges are not even and the borders are not consistent. I’ll stay late and finish it myself.”
Friday – “The edges and borders are perfect. Keep up this level of work, and pretty soon I won’t need to review your work anymore.”
My conversation for the week with the second employee goes like this:
Monday – Training
Tuesday – Nothing
Wednesday – Nothing
Thursday – “Your edges and borders are all wrong. Do it again like I showed you Monday.”
Friday – Nothing
I can absolutely guarantee you that by the following Monday, the first employee will be more motivated and more productive. They may even offer to stay late and fix Thursday’s album on their own time. Wouldn’t you?
The interesting thing about this technique is that you can almost make it a game. Walk into your studio tomorrow and announce to everyone that you are implementing a new policy of “catching each other doing something right,” and that not only will you be doing it, but that everyone else should do it too. You’ll see some smiles, occasionally some goofy grins, but by the end of the day you’ll have more motivated employees.