I believe it is changing however, I still hear people grumble that they only hear from their managers when they’ve done something “wrong”. I hear the sentiment that “I’m invisible until he or she notices I did something that didn’t fit with their expectations of how to do the job”. And, sometimes that person has been made to feel invisible for so long that they are at a place where they start to hold back. They start to question what they are doing, how they are doing it etc. They start to disengage - oops. So, if happy, engaged, employees are your power, start noticing when they do something right!
Catching them doing something “right”…
To be very clear, doing something right is a specific behaviour that moves that person forward toward a specific result that is part of their job. For newbies to a job it might be learning some of the most basic aspects of their job. For people who have been in the job for a while it might be about mastering a certain aspect of the job that had eluded them for a while. For veterans in a job it might be that step that had them going further in their responsibilities or taking on something new. Whatever stage your team member is at, you will be able to catch them doing something right!
Acknowledge don’t praise
I hear you saying O.K. then what? Then you acknowledge the behaviour, the result and their effort. This is different than praise. It’s very different.
Praise: Wow Jane, you rocked that, way to go!
Acknowledgement: Jane that “task” has been very difficult for you in the past. I see that you changed your approach and got the “result”! How does that feel?
O.K. so, an acknowledgement with a little coaching question thrown in there to help the acknowledgement stick - that’s fair! (For those of you who manage people at work and have families - this also works for teenagers when they start to study - the effort - and they get better marks - the result).
How to acknowledge someone
To acknowledge a team member and make it solid and meaningful, means you have to be paying attention. When you are paying attention it’s easy to catch team members doing something right.
Acknowledgements also take practice, so, the more you pay attention to your team members, the more often you will be able to catch them doing something right and the more practice you will get at making acknowledgements!
Give it a try
This is one way, and one element to building stronger more powerful relationships with your team members, your direct reports, the people you guide everyday at work. Give it a try. And let me know how it went for you! We can even spend a few minutes fine tuning your approach.