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Thursday Insight: Secret Mission

Thursday Insight: Secret Mission


I’ve just read a brilliant Facebook post designed to help teachers. It contains an idea that we could all try with our teams. This is how the teacher described it:

“A thing I’ve started doing with my class is giving them a ‘secret mission’, where they have to do something and if another member of staff tells me about it, the whole class moves up the reward chart. Last week was holding doors for people, this week is asking people about their day.”

What a fabulous approach to instilling a sense of achievement!

It reminded me of the first team that I ever managed. I was given them because their performance was deemed to be so bad that I couldn’t make them worse (I kid you not, that is how it was sold to me).

Instead we learnt together, we made mistakes, we tried different things; together we found a way to succeed. So much so that, 9 months later, we got banned from the Best Team competition because the fact we kept winning was demotivating other teams! (Again, I kid you not.)

Despite this, my team still felt they were the Ugly Ducklings of the organisation. So, when I got invited to a meeting with our director, there was only one question I wanted to ask:

“Please will you come to my department and tell them how amazing they are to have turned things around and achieved so much?”

A time and date was arranged, but I kept it secret from my team. Instead, I filled our director in on the details of who was in my team and what they had each done to contribute to our success.

When the director arrived, unannounced, he was superb! He made each member of my team feel special. He gave a masterclass in making sure that their efforts were recognised and appreciated.

20+ years later, my memory of that morning still burns brightly.

What my director and this teacher implicitly understood was the power of recognition and appreciation. We all stand that little bit taller when someone recognises the effort we have made.

So, my challenge for you, over the next 7 days is to spot the moments when every member of your team does something well AND then tell them that you noticed. If you spot someone from another team doing something well, tell them too!

You’ll be amazed at the positive impact these acknowledgements will have on their motivation and also on your own mindset. After all, looking for, and finding, reasons to be positive is far more enjoyable than focusing on reasons to be annoyed or irritated.

February 13 2020 Frances Ferguson
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Frances Ferguson




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