Siks Mikah gives a moment or two to reflect on everyday scenarios in and about the HR and corporate environment.

By Siks Mikah

Like every Malaysian household we had to struggle with work attitude of our foreign hired help. It seems like their standard procedure was to feign ignorance of any tasks other than just basic cleaning.

My Indonesian domestic helper was reluctant to cook insisting that she didn’t know how to. Well, not until she started missing her Indonesian dishes that she began to prepare simple sambal (chilli paste) for herself. I happened to walked into the kitchen and I asked to try some.

With tears in my eyes, (from the spiciness) I complimented her for that appetising condiment and Wati looked pleased and smiled in acknowledgement. It was the beginning of her culinary journey in my kitchen.

Fast forward a year later, we had friends sweet talking her to make them her delicious curry puffs, the occasional puri and curry that she learnt from my Punjabi neighbour and even apple banana crumble that she learnt from my recipe book.

If you ever come across anyone in the market in Surabaya selling apple banana crumble and puri, it’s likely to be Wati!
And all this started with a pat on the back to praise her for the sambal.

According to CEO D Jungle People John Kam the effect of praises on staff in corporations are not any different. However, managers are quick to criticise and slow in compliments.

“Recognition at work, like recognition in your personal lives, is something that everyone works for. Your salary is a recognition of work done and also recognition of your ability. I recognise that you have certain value therefore I pay you for your value.

“Research shows that positive encouragement at work place is way more effective and way more successful in terms of getting more results than negative criticisms and they said it was up to 90/10.

“You should be encouraging, praising and recognising good work like 90 percent of the time and criticising 10 percent. And the interesting fact is that in reality the opposite is true,” says John.

What makes this divide wider is that fact that most managers now, by virtue of their age are Generation X and have different expectations of work culture compared with millennials.

They believe that when you are paid to do a job you would have to do it irregardless of compliments. It is not about creating a fluffy environment but about what works.

“And what works is to make people feel recognised. If they feel appreciated, they will work harder in closing the gaps in their weaknesses. The millennials come and expect a more encouraging environment. This mismatch of expectations rubs each other the wrong way,” John explains.

After receiving my compliment for her sambal, Wati started to attempt cooking simple chinese dishes and eventually pawed through the books for western dishes recipes. Clearly she had decided to use those compliments to propel her further in her learning.

John advised people on the receiving end to take the recognition back and reflect on why it has occurred and what they can do to raise these expectations of themselves.

“When excellence is expected of you then you know it’s a good place. The high pressure means you are considered an expert and you are at top of the game. It also falls back on what you want in life and what you want to achieve. It’s either a stress free life or a stress full with all the luxuries that you can afford,” says John.

In his training programmes, John emphasises to his participants thats to create a pleasant work environment it is important to recognise the areas of strengths rather than criticise the weakness.

It is easy for someone to feel worthless and dejected if you keep harping on what they don’t do well. The more they spiral down the worse the quality of work. It’s a vicious cycle that needs to be stopped. So, be more cognisant of the good thing.

Listen to this podcast on ChalkBoard Ep46 Recognition –
#whatdoyouthink? Leave your views in the comment box.

(Siks Mikah believes humility opens doors inward and outward.These are the writer’s own views and do not represent those of D Jungle People.)