Catch Them Doing Good

“I don’t think I got a note today!” my preschooler confidently told me when I picked him up from school. Whether or not he had received a daily note had become top of mind for him and admittedly for me as well. By note, I’m referring to instances of bad behavior. In our experience, teacher’s notes were never a good thing, and lately we had been receiving them on a weekly basis.

My five-year-old went on to tell me about how he was kind to one of his classmates earlier in the day. I was relieved…and then surprised when we got into the car, and I opened his backpack and read aloud the following:

Reid hit a friend at circle time today. He wouldn’t apologize when asked. Then he kicked the same friend when she tried to hug him during a song. Had to sit outside circle time for the remainder of the session.

I glanced into the rear-view mirror in time to watch the optimism in my boy’s face crumble into disappointment as he softly cried, “But they didn’t catch me doing good.” My heart sank.

Recognition Never Gets Old
We never outgrow the desire for others to catch us doing good, do we? Even if we don’t crave constant recognition of our hard work and good deeds like a child might, we all appreciate the occasional “atta boy” from our teammates and especially our leaders.

So why are we often so lousy at giving recognition? It’s rarely an intentional effort to rob others of encouragement. More often than not, it’s because:
• We’re too busy or in a hurry to get to the next thing
• We allow ourselves to get consumed with handling the failures/bad behavior
• We don’t personally thrive on encouragement, so we forget to give it to others
• We don’t think we should have to thank people for “doing their job”

Commit to Catching Others Doing Good
Whether we’re watching the evening news or scrolling our social media feeds, it can be easy to get caught up in everything NOT going right. As leaders – and preschool teachers – we do have to correct bad habits, mistakes, and negative behavior. Yet we must balance that coaching and correction with encouragement and positive reinforcement when we see it. For example:

• Make catching teammates doing good a daily habit. You can thank them face-to-face or highlight their win via email to the whole team. Just make sharing genuine gratefulness and positive recognition a habit.
• Thank your family members for helping out around the house. Should they help out because they live there?! Well, yes! But it doesn’t hurt to thank your spouse or children for contributing to the effort.
• Thank someone who probably doesn’t get much recognition. When was the last time you thanked the employee cleaning the bathrooms at a sporting event or gathering the stray carts in the supermarket parking lot? Catch and highlight the good – especially if it’s overlooked or taken for granted.

So What About Your Kid?
If you made it this far, you may be wondering what happened with my preschooler! Well, we decided the best move for him would be to another school that would be a better fit, and so far he is thriving.

Doesn’t that seem a little drastic? It sure does…And your employees may be considering a similar drastic change if they too are starved for you to catching them doing good. Who can you catch doing good today?

Have you ever worked for a leader who always zeroed in on what was wrong about a process or a project? If we follow every praise with a “but…” or if every discussion turns into a critical evaluation, our teammates begin to dread interacting with us. Eventually, they quit asking for feedback (if they can avoid it). And finally, they simply shut down.

There is nothing wrong with striving for continuous improvement. It’s all in how we go about getting it. You can’t instill a desire for excellence by always highlighting what’s lacking. Excellence is inspired, not enforced. (more…)

Impacting Leaders is a virtual organization, and this setup works well for us and our clients. The flexibility has allowed me to cherry-pick the people on my team because location is not an issue. Our clients are spread across several states, so there is no need for a brick-and-mortar headquarters. (more…)

“We rent people’s hands and their backs, but they volunteer their hearts, their minds,
and their imaginations.” – from Ray Attiyah

Author Ray Attiyah makes a great point in his blog post on employee engagement. You pay your employees to do a job. Whether they pour their heart and soul into it has a lot to do with the type of environment you create and how you treat your people.

You capture hearts, minds, and imaginations by:

  • Creating an excitement in your work
  • Keeping the vision relevant and out front
  • Showing (not just saying) that you care
  • Giving your team credit for the wins
  • Taking responsibility yourself for the losses
  • Serving and sacrificing (especially when it’s inconvenient)
  • Walking the talk
  • Sharing your success
  • Communicating openly and honestly
  • Using mistakes as teaching opportunities

On the other hand, you only get their hands and backs by:

  • Consistently complaining or being sarcastic
  • Constantly changing the focus and moving the goals
  • Lacking empathy
  • Taking credit for the wins
  • Blaming your teammates for the losses
  • Taking privileges
  • Talking the talk
  • Keeping the fruits of your success to yourself
  • Hoarding information
  • Talking down to them when mistakes are made

Employees in the latter environment will eagerly jump ship for any opportunity that looks remotely better to their current situation. Employees in the first environment will stand by you through good times and bad. Are you capturing your employees hearts?

As a leadership coach, I spend a decent amount of time talking with leaders about their disengaged employees. I’ve noticed over time that as leaders, we often say, “If he won’t step up, he’s going to have to leave.”

At the same time, our employees are saying, “My leader doesn’t appreciate me, so I’ve checked out, and I want to leave.”

Leaving, however, doesn’t have to be the solution for a disengaged worker, and I believe that individual leaders – and not organizations – are mostly responsible for creating engaged employees.

So, what are some of the most common reasons employees feel disengaged, and how can leaders address them? Here are five things that you, as a leader, can do to re-engage the people on your team. (more…)

Employees at every level are screaming for the same thing and it makes no difference if they are working in a large or small organization.  They want freedom to perform. While leaders believe in the concept of giving autonomy to their employees, there needs to be a realization that it takes more than just permission.

“Structure creates freedom!”

Yes, I said it… the “S” word. Structure has gotten a bad rap by many who boast of providing a creative work environment. But I contend that structure allows more teammates more freedom to think, make quick decisions and explore new opportunities.

Let me be clear, structure doesn’t mean working in a box with rules. Oh no, it’s actually the opposite, structure means there is common sense, best practices and reasoning behind how teams operate with each other. Teammates know what’s expected and they can move and make decisions on their own because the structure allows them the freedom to perform.

Without structure there are no decision-making boundaries. Therefore, decisions have to be made from the top. Lack of structure leads to lack of growth and stifles creativity and great thinking from employees.

Designing a creative workplace with a backbone of structure will also aid in the following: (more…)

Some of my favorite subjects on leadership are the ones that challenge common sense. I don’t like to argue, but I do enjoy the great conversations that come from challenging traditional rules. So after a long Labor Day weekend, I’ve decided to challenge some of my HR friends with the topic of exit interviews.

In short, I don’t get why companies do them. (more…)