Make a prompt response or you'll just let it be
Since January 2004, I have been sending out "morning mail" every weekday morning at around 9:00 am believing that it makes a positive contribution to the business. Without expecting it, I intuitively created an interactive system in which each person's daily report gets at least one written response before the following working day starts. This has created a sense of being acknowledged and not being neglected.
Interestingly, within a year of doing my morning mail ritual, it had become a tool that let me know who didn't agree with my thoughts and would eventually leave the company. In 2006, the business turned profitable, and we have been profitable since then, growing at a reasonable rate every year. Our revenue has grown approximately 16 times in the past 14 years, meaning we have grown 122% each year. This has not been a rapid growth, but I consider it a sound, constant, and sustainable growth. So, I was somewhat convinced that my morning mail ritual had had something to do with the outcome.
Recently, while reading a book called "Bringing out the Best in People" written by Aubrey C. Daniels, I started to realize how morning mail has contributed to the soundness and growth. After a scientific study on hundreds of organizations; analyzing the factors that contributed to peoples' behavior, it insists the importance of reactions to each action an employee makes. The actions can be responded to in the forms of neglect, negative reinforcement, and positive reinforcement, which also determine people's behavior.
A lot of organizations and managers fall into the trap of saying nothing when seeing people's actions, meaning neglecting. Managers consider annual reviews, bonuses, rewards, and in some case punishments, as ways to control the staff to behave favorably. However, if reinforcements do not occur in a prompt manner, it is less effective. An important factor that was often missed by mangers was timing. Feedback should be prompt; as soon as the behavior is observed, or within a day at the most. The positive to negative reinforcement ratio should be 4:1, or more, but negative ones are important too.
The concept really gave me some scientific insights as to why the morning mail system contributed to the growth and soundness of the business. My responses to the daily reports functioned as daily reinforcement to each person working here. Gradually, people understood what the set of preferred actions in the working environment were. As I wrote down notes every morning, people gradually started to understand what I expect of them. Since the size of the organization is growing and I cannot monitor everyone's behavior, our challenge is to make it a habit for leaders to give positive reinforcements more promptly and frequently.