In one of the jobs I had early in my career I was Business Manager for the College Publishing division of CBS.
It was an interesting job. All of the folks around me were well educated and always testing my knowledge and experience. They were also great teachers.
One of our most popular books at that time was “Understanding Human Behavior.” I believe the author was a Jim McConnell. Anyway, to celebrate the fact that his book sold over 100,000 copies (which is a lot for a College textbook), he was invited to come to New York City. He took that occasion to speak to our organization and I was fortunate to be in attendance because I learned something that I use almost every day: Ignore all deviant behaviors and reinforce all appropriate behaviors.
In the “management by exception” world in which we live, this can be a difficult philosophy to live by, but I try and I hope you will too.
Let’s start with the negative or deviant behaviors. There are those members who from time to time don’t show enough common courtesy to say “thank you” when you respond to their “Member in need of assistance” postings. Didn’t their parents teach them manners? Well, in keeping with Jim’s approach, sending them a nasty note is probably the wrong thing to do. Not sure why “bringing the hammer down on them” doesn’t have the desired effect of changing their behavior, but it doesn’t. On the other hand, if you get a thank you note for something you have done, do you send back a thank you note for the thank you note? Well, YES! Always reinforce appropriate behaviors!
Let’s say you are the one who has posted that request for assistance. Would you like to ensure that others can get their fellow members to respond? The approach I would suggest is to send an appropriately effusive thank you note. Reinforce the behavior of the members who have taken the time to try to help. All behaviors you reinforce, you get more of.
You may have noticed that from time to time I receive a wonderful editorial contribution from one of our members. Have you focused on how I handle it? First, I write a very positive introduction thanking the member in question, and then (in keeping with my “evil plan” to get more interesting articles for you to read) I ask all of you to write to this very kind member and thank them for jotting down their thoughts and sending them in.
If you feel you have been slighted by a member, what should you do? Under Jim’s approach, ignore it. With almost 37,000 members, we can have ourselves a very nice little society just by reinforcing the positive behaviors of our fellow members when we catch them doing something right. The trick is that every time you catch them, you need to reinforce their behavior.
Friends, we have a good thing going with The FENG. It is the largest organization of senior financial executives in the United States and by implication in the entire world. We are well known and well respected for all the things we do for each other.
Still, there is more for us to do. We have the opportunity as The FENG continues to evolve, to make the ties that bind us together even stronger. Remember, we aren’t a job listing service (despite the job leads we publish in our evening newsletter), we are a NETWORKING group.
All you have to do is keep in mind that every day and in every way, it all begins with you!
When you catch your fellow members doing something right, be sure to let them know.