Book review of ‘Whale done! The Power of Positive Relationships’

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Book review of ‘Whale done! The Power of Positive Relationships’

What does a five-ton killer whale have in common with your people at work and your spouse and kids at home?

According to Ken Blanchard and his co-authors from SeaWorld, probably a lot more than you would think. In this inspirational book they show that by accentuating the positive, a technique learned at SeaWorld, your effectiveness at work and at home can change, just as it did with the killer whales. Want to know more? What does a five-ton killer whale have in common with your people at work and your spouse and kids at home?

According to Ken Blanchard and his co-authors from SeaWorld, probably a lot more than you would think. In this inspirational book they show that by accentuating the positive, a technique learned at SeaWorld, your effectiveness at work and at home can change, just as it did with the killer whales. Want to know more? 

Lessons learned from the killer whales: accentuate the positive.

Ken Blanchard starts his book by explaining how trainers at SeaWorld motivate killer whales to perform magnificent tricks, even if it’s not in their nature. They stimulated them when they did things right and redirected their behavior when they did things wrong. As such they were able to make a shift in their actions, collaborate in a better way and encourage them towards the required behavior. The more attention you pay to behavior, the more it will be repeated. What you focus on is key. To motivate people and create a world-class organization, you have to know how to manage people’s energy. If it works with the whales, why won’t it work with humans?

The ABC of performance management.

The authors explain a theory about how to stimulate good performance. It consists of the three ABC steps: the Activator is what stimulates the behavior or performance you want. This can be verbal or non-verbal signals, instructions, trainings. The second step is the Behavior, which comes after the initial activation. It’s the performance that occurs; for example an on-time report, achieved quota, completed task. The third step is the Consequence, which is what happens after the behavior has been shown. There are four kinds of consequence: no response or negative responses, which are often used, or redirection or positive responses, which are the most powerful.

Redirection.

What to do if people do things wrong? The authors say it’s a matter of energy management. If a person doesn’t do a right action, then don’t pay a lot of attention to it. Instead, redirect him/her towards the right action. Redirection can be done by describing the error and showing the negative impact of the action, without reproaching. People need to know it’s the behavior, not them, that you find unacceptable. Then remove the pressure by not putting blame on the person but refocusing on the goals. Tell the person how the work should be done and make agreements on how to reach the target. Make sure you both have the same perception and are both committed to your commitments, then express trust and confidence in the person.

Catch me doing something right? Whale done!

Catching people doing something wrong is easy; you simply have to wait until they foul up. The authors call this the GOTcha response. Often people are left alone until they do something wrong. Catching people doing things right, asks for a different focus. The authors call it the WHALE DONE! Response. If you are positive with people, you’ll get more positive results and this will be reflected to your customers. You don’t always have to wait for the definitive result but it is important to praise the progress, which is a moving target. This demands greater patience and self-control, but by accentuating the good actions, you will stimulate people to continue behaving in a good way, towards the goals you have set up with them. They will start to behave as requested because they like it and become self-motivated.

Conclusion.

In this book the authors show that it is possible to motivate people in a different way. Reacting in a positive way builds up a trusting environment with mutual understanding. They choose to focus on the positive things because the more attention you pay to a behavior, the more it will be repeated. By redirecting people in their actions when doing something wrong and using the Whale done! approach when things go right, people around you will start to get self-motivated and perform in a better way.

Want to know more about it? Read the book and discover some practical examples on how to put this theory into practice.