The Advantage Letter by Dave Martin
The Advantage Letter is brought to you by:
  FSI SeeEverything  
Dave Martin Keynote Speaker
Bring Dave Martin To Your Next Event
Dave Martin Podcaster
Bring Dave's Podcast To Your Team Each Month
Friday, July 01, 2016
Volume 22 | # 507
View Archive

Here's how I'm going to beat you.  I'm going to outwork you.  That's it.  That's all there is to it. » Pat Summitt

One Thing Leads to the Others

One of the more enlightening things about addressing groups of bankers on a regular basis is gauging which topics, themes and statements seem to strike chords.  A favorite is suggesting that we too often wrongly blame our jobs for whatever bothers us.  

If I made a list of things that annoy or cause stress on a weekly basis, it would often be a long list.

A few job responsibilities would undoubtedly be on that list.  But those are the only items that I am actually being paid to be stressed about.  If I am going to grumble about any of the items on my list, I probably shouldn’t start with ones that pay the bills.  

That statement tends to get affirmative smiles and chuckles.  I often follow with the suggestion that many of us get frustrated about the wrong things with our companies and supervisors, as well.

We tend to get exasperated when it seems that sales results are all that supervisors seem to care about.  And sure, if that is truly the case, it is a problem.  

My experience has been, however, that the issue is usually not that management focuses only on sales results.  But, it’s the part of folks’ jobs they already feel the most stress and anxiety about.

Managers can talk about everything under the sun, and then when the focus moves to sales goals, activities, and results, many employees think, “Ah-Ha! I knew it! That’s all this place cares about!”

After getting a few chuckles from pointing that out, I suggest that if they are working in an organization that is not helping them develop proactive growth (sales) mindsets and skillsets, they actually do have a problem.  

Sales are the oxygen of their businesses and personal careers.  

Sales activities are not the necessary evil of our jobs.  They are the portions of our jobs that make the rest of our jobs even possible.

I sometimes compare a good sales coach to an effective personal trainer.  If you’ve ever worked out with a personal trainer, there are times when he or she is your least favorite person in the room...or entire town.  

However, you later appreciate the improved results you achieve because they “encouraged” you out of your comfort zone.

Understanding that may or may not make future sales coaching sessions easier. However, it may help improve our perspectives about why we often focus on that facet of our jobs just a little more than others.  

It makes all other parts possible.


A Shout Out for Shout Outs

I read a paragraph in a recent issue of Entrepreneur Magazine that made me smile.  Of course, I may have reacted positively because of confirmation bias.  

(But I’m okay with that.)

The magazine cited research in the Journal of Applied Psychology that found an interesting twist on the “Employee of the Month” strategy.  The research suggested that public praise didn’t necessarily raise the performance of the praised employee.

The interesting finding was that other employees tended to “raise their games” in an effort to garner the same kind of recognition.

I’ve long promoted the power of simple, public praise to motivate teams.  Through the past couple of decades, I’ve reviewed scores of incentive programs that made my head hurt.  

As a general rule, the more difficult a plan is to calculate and explain, the less motivational value it carries.

I do recognize why this happens.  Trying to be fair to all parties can sometimes become more complex than we’d like.  

And the bigger the organization, the more layers of complexity involved.

That said, the sausage-making process and delayed gratification of some incentive plans detracts from their motivational impact.  Banks don’t get as much “bang for their buck” as they should.

One of my favorite stories to share with management groups involves the unexpected impact I once observed from a bag of rocks.  

In a former job, I jokingly created a “U Rock” award by drawing the letter “U” on river stones and signing the reverse sides.  I kiddingly handed them out in meetings to folks who deserved acknowledgement. 

I was soon amazed at how much a silly gesture of public acknowledgment resonated with folks.  

I kidded with other members of the executive team that we needed to scrap the standing incentive plans and invest in bags of rocks.

I then made sure some I told that to realized that I was kidding.  (Some folks are very literal.)

Whether you manage a large team, small team, or simply want to motivate peers, don’t underestimate the impact of simple public acknowledgement.  Feeling appreciated is one of the more powerful internal drivers we humans have.  

When people know extra effort is noticed and noted, they are far more likely to give it.  

Whose extra efforts are you noticing and noting today?


Manners are the lubricating oil of an organization.  It is a law of nature that two moving bodies in contact with each other create friction.  This is as true for human beings as it is for inanimate objects. » Peter Drucker

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of any affiliated entities or sponsors.
The Advantage Letter is brought to you by:
FSI logo
The financial services industry leader in In-store, Storefront, and On-site Branches.
Dave Martin

The Author

Dave Martin has become one of the most prolific writers in the banking industry. His columns and newsletters are read in thousands of financial institutions each month. His keynote presentations, seminars, and podcasts have an authenticity and humor that brings teams of all sizes and seniority levels together.

You can learn more about Dave Martin at

Dave Martin - promo Dave Martin - promo Dave Martin - promo

The Advantage Letter by Dave Martin

© 2024 Dave Martin. All rights reserved. P.O. Box 1572, Sugar Land, TX 77487-1572


Good people win.™