Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Revved! by Harry Paul and Ross Reck

Paul, Harry, and Ross ReckRevved!  New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006.

Revved! is a business parable.  Harry Paul and Ross Reck tell the story of Katie, a woman hurt by personal betrayal whose career suffers from her attempts to protect herself for additional injury.  She turns things around with the help and advice of an old friend and a radio psychologist.

In the context of a simple story, Paul and Reck describe a system intended motivate employees to perform at a new level, get engaged in their work and go above and beyond what is required in their job description.  It makes the supervisors and managers feel good, too.

The secret to getting the best out of people is this: care about them.  Honestly, demonstrably care.  People care about the people who care about them.  The care a supervisor shows for her employees will be reflected back in enthusiasm, performance, improvements and ideas.

The authors offer a note of warning.  Real caring can’t be faked.  If you jerk people around, it will backfire.

Paul and Reck offer a way to mitigate this potential problem.  Real caring can’t be faked.  Katie doesn’t want to risk getting hurt again by opening herself to genuine caring for others, so her counselors tell her to go through the motions even if she doesn’t really mean it.  It is a trick to get over the impediment of her self-preservation.  After a few weeks, she finds she genuinely cares for her employees.  The authors agree with William James that emotions follow actions, and if you act as if you care for someone, you soon will.

By stages, Katie is introduced to the few simple steps to demonstrate caring for others in the workplace.  The intent is to help her build new habits in manageable pieces and to prevent too much shock from her embattled and suspicious employees.

The authors give their system a name, Looking Out for Number Two.  Each step is named as well: Winning Them Over, Blowing Them Away, and Keeping Them Revved.  In spite of the fancy marketing language, program is straightforward.   The authors summarize it in three pages at the end of the book, and that could be shorter.  The titles are big, but the actions are small.

As you might expect, Katie sees amazing results in just two months.  Katie is a fictional character.  Real life might proceed a little slower an more messily.

Even so, the advice presented is sound.  It has the advantage of being simple and actionable.  It’s not about trying to stir up a feeling of caring.  It’s about specific actions that show caring in practical, meaningful ways, knowing that the response in our emotions and in others will come naturally.

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