B.O.S.S. Employees for Positive Motivation

– 3 min –


A recent Florida State study found that 40% of people have experienced “bad bosses”. Top-culprit behaviors include undermining and dispiriting conduct such as failing to give credit, intimidating employees with the silent treatment, and making negative comments. The University of Minnesota researchers surprisingly found that the biggest turnover occurred in employees who had positive views of themselves but felt undermined and stressed. Ironically, employers were losing their best team members and producers.

How can “good bosses” reinforce high self-esteem and positive work motivation? Common knowledge points to positive recognition being key for engagement, high performance, and retention motivation in the work environment. Gallup reported only 33% of employees felt fully engaged, with lack of recognition being the #1 reason for people quitting their jobs. O.C. Tanner research reported that 60% of respondents were more motivated by recognition than money but that 82% felt their supervisors don’t recognize their accomplishments.

Beyond positive recognition, we also need to encourage employees through high, positive expectations. Offering others our encouragement is a noble act as a leader, manager, or colleague. “Encouragement” comes from the Latin word cour, meaning “heart”. To encourage literally gives “heart” to employees if they are hurting, in a slump, lacking confidence, facing a job adversity or other barriers they’re not sure they can overcome.

The power of encouragement and expressing positive belief in someone is undeniable. Psychologists say its magic is in the phenomenon called “self-fulfilling prophecy”. In the classic education study “Pygmalion in the Classroom”, researchers told teachers that certain randomly selected children would be “spurters” (based on a non-existent Harvard test) –– in other words, late bloomers who would make tremendous academic and intellectual strides by year’s end. Sure enough, they excelled more than could be expected by chance, due to their teachers’ belief in them. The movie King Richard portrays how parental belief and high, positive expectations (along with dedicated training) helped the Williams sisters become tennis champions. Medicine’s cancer treatment now includes positive expectations and visualizing positive results.

In business, managers can pour psychological vitamins into the emotional and self-motivational lives of employees, especially if they’re discouraged, afraid to risk a new undertaking, or lack belief in their capabilities.

This is where B.O.S.S. comes in. Let’s B.O.S.S. people around(!) by expressing high, positive expectations with this simple encouragement formula:

“B” stands for directly expressing your Belief: “Monica, you’ve done incoming customer service for three years. I believe you have what it takes to shift into outbound sales. It’ll earn you far more money, provide job variety, and give you freedom out in the field.”

“O” stands for Obstacles –– acknowledging the challenges of what you’re psyching someone up to tackle, rather than pretending it’ll be a cake-walk. You don’t set someone up when you B.O.S.S. them: “Monica, I’m not saying it’ll be easy transitioning to selling. It’ll require learning a lot more product knowledge as well as handling tough objections.”

The “S” and “S” in the B.O.S.S. acronym stand for Specific Strengths. Describe the exact, specific strengths you’ve observed in your employee that lead you to have confidence in the person’s ability to overcome the obstacles you’ve discussed: “Monica, I truly believe you have what it takes to gain any new product knowledge. I saw you learn the new computer system faster than anyone else. I see you effectively manage objections and upset every day in customer service. You’re the one who handles escalations if I’m traveling. I know you’ll be a fantastic outbound salesperson.”

These B.O.S.S. steps will empower you to kindle the motivation spark in your colleagues and those who directly report to you. Do you know someone who is starving for encouragement that they receive too rarely, or maybe never, in their lives? Start encouraging your employees by B.O.S.S.ing them around! Encouragement is your superpower for making someone’s day.

Rick Brandon, Ph. D., CEO of Brandon Partners

Rick Brandon offers flagship workshops on Organizational Savvy and Interpersonal Savvy. His new book is Straight Talk: Influencing Skills for Collaboration and Commitment which comes after his Wall Street Journal bestselling Survival of the Savvy: High-Integrity Political Tactics for Career and Company Success. With thirty years of performance improvement experience, Rick has trained tens of thousands at companies worldwide, including scores of Fortune 500 companies. He is married and lives in Mill Valley, CA, where he also plays TAPS for veterans’ funerals and fronts an R&B cover band.




Leading a Coaching Culture

Learn to coach others and create a coaching culture for your organization. Navigate difficult conversations, run efficient meetings and deliver results. Feel inspired not tired!

To Be Announced

Instructor-Led Course

6-Weeks Online
8hrs Est. Course time
Peer-group Networking

Share This