“How Full Is Your Bucket” by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. might be the perfect business book because it’s only 89 pages and has several full page pictures.  

The premise can be summed up in one simple, yet vastly underutilized thought:

Are you filling your co-worker’s buckets with compliments?


Based upon their vast research the authors conducted, they suggest every person has an “emotional bucket” that gets filled up by compliments and drained by criticism. They contend that the vast majority of people walk around with low or empty buckets.

So I have to ask: Are you filling up the buckets of your co-workers in the areas of ethics and compliance?

Obviously, your job is to alert people when they fall short. But do you only talk to employees when they’ve screwed up, detailing every way they failed a particular policy? How might your company’s ethics and compliance culture change if you started praising co-workers when they get things right?

Imagine celebrating someone for correctly making a tough ethical decision.

Or maybe validating teams who remain compliant even when no one’s looking. Picture what might happen if your entire company celebrated a benchmark like a full month of compliance or put out a newsletter filled ethics and compliance success stories.

Taking time to praise people when they succeed instead of only focusing on the missteps could radically transform the perception of both you and your department, as well as potentially change the entire tenor of your company’s culture.

And the absolute best part? Compliments don’t cost a dime.

Go on. Fill up someone’s bucket. You’ll never regret it.


BONUS! You can use the meme above with your team. I’ll post new memes every Friday.

Bryan Belknap, an award-winning screenwriter, is Creative Director at Resonate Pictures, which specializes in story-based training and branding films. He will be speaking at SCCE Compliance & Ethics Conference in Las Vegas.

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