Ken BlanchardmanagementSmall Business

The Power of Positive Relationships

Did you ever wonder how the trainers at SeaWorld are able to get the oceans top predator to perform with such excitement and enthusiasm? How do they get the whales to swim and jump on cue in one of the most sensational shows ever?

Whale Done! explores the training programs at SeaWorld and uses modern management theory to relate those same techniques into our relationships with other people. The SeaWorld trainers work to catch the whales doing things right and reward them…thus making it desirable for the whales to continue to do things right.

In our lives, we typically manage by what the authors call the “GOTcha” approach. Do your employees only hear from you when you catch them doing something wrong? Do you make a conscious effort to catch the people in your life “doing things right” and reward them for it? Far too often, I catch myself using the GOTcha approach rather than the “Whale Done!” approach.

It was also interesting that much like people, every whale preferred different types of reward. Some of the whales liked to be rubbed on the head while some preferred completely different types of affection or to be played with. Humans are similar in that some employees just like to be recognized for their efforts, some may like some extra time off of work, or some may be simply motivated by money. The point is that everyone is different and it is important to find out what motivates the people in your life.

Since the book was first published in 2002, many companies have used the Whale Done! philosophy to establish recognition programs for employees. One such company is Bob Parks Realty in Smyrna, Tennessee. At this firm, winners of the award are chosen by the agents in all of their offices who vote on the employee who is the most helpful to others and has the most positive attitude. You can read more about this award and congratulate Kathy Tyson, this year’s winner on her blog.

Whale Done! is a great book for anyone who has to deal with other people on a daily basis – which is just about everyone. The lessons that are learned will help the reader to better manage their relationships with employees, co-workers, friends, spouses, or children. I especially recommend this book to small business owners who need to be able to leverage the power of positive relationships to maximize the effectiveness of their companies.

The book was co-written by Ken Blanchard, who has written multiple best sellers in the area of management and leadership. His co-authors also included top SeaWorld trainers Thad Lacinak and Chuch Tompkins. The 128-page parable is especially a quick and easy read. I think most readers will find the “story” enjoyable in comparison to many of the dry books out there on management theory.