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?

I‘ve had the opportunity to get to know a lot of great people in my 25-plus years of being connected to Express Employment Professionals, but I don’t know if I’ve met a kinder, more encouraging person than Ralph Palmen. Ralph racked up some very impressive professional accomplishments in his lifetime, but I think he’ll be remembered most for his optimistic outlook, for his kindness, for his faith, and for how he always made an effort to uplift others, which is evident this brief video he recorded earlier this year. I’d encourage you to find seven minutes in your day to watch it. You didn’t have to know Ralph to be inspired by his words. I hope it encourages you 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…)

Everyone needs praise and encouragement, some more than others. Yet, occasionally leaders withhold praise from their team members because they’re afraid of the impact their encouraging words will have! (more…)

True leaders can appreciate real teamwork and what it can accomplish, even when that example of true teamwork comes from the opposing team.

So, Thunder lovers (and Spurs haters), I’m going to have to ask you to put your team loyalties aside for a few moments and join me in witnessing true teamwork at best. (more…)

Can we overpraise? Is there such a thing as building up our teammates too much? I believe so.

Leaders were never intended to be cheerleaders whose primary role is shouting affirmation and praise from the sidelines, even when the team is down by 30 points. (more…)

Just about everyone has an inner circle. Hopefully your circle is made up of people with whom you are safe discussing topics and getting feedback. The people in your inner circle should bring value to you by both building you up and challenging you. (more…)

On Thursday, many of us will pause either before or after the big Thanksgiving dinner to share something for which we’re thankful. Our families. Our friends. Our health. Our jobs. Our homes. If we are truly mindful of our blessings, the list can be endless.

I wonder, though, how many of us will pause to give thanks on this day, not only to God for our blessings, but to another for the support, for the encouragement, for the silent cheer-leading of a family member, a special friend, or a dedicated teammate.

A sincere thank you isn’t just about acknowledgement. It’s also about encouragement. It’s about validating their efforts at making your life better, easier, happier. And that small bit of encouragement is enough to refuel their determination in making another, maybe bigger impact in another person’s life.

Take time this week to give thanks to God for those people who’ve blessed your life. Then, give them your gift of thanks by telling those same people how they’ve blessed your life. Encourage them to keep it up. That you noticed their efforts, that you appreciate them, and that they truly have made a difference.

“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”  -Mark Twain

This is so true! It reminds me of other key leadership concepts like the best way to learn is to teach. Or the best way to lead is to serve others.

In order to live this quote out, though, we have to find others to impact and encourage. What if we lived this quote out just once a day? What a great challenge!

From now until the end of the year, aim to encourage one person a day. It could be a teammate, a client, an elderly person at the grocery store, a neighbor, a teacher, your mom or dad, or anyone else for that matter. Imagine the impact you can make by striving to cheer up just one person every day!

How humble is too humble? How much encouragement is too much, and can you actually be too accommodating as a leader?

My career has allowed me to work and consult within a lot of companies and with a lot of leaders. Most of the time I’m consulting on how to improve employee engagement by creating a culture of development, encouragement, and servant mindedness. However, there are times where I run into a company culture or a leader that exaggerates and over embellishes these very talents many are trying to acquire.

Like most things in life, too much of one thing leads to a lopsided outcome. You might find this post a bit awkward, but I feel compelled to address it. This past month I’ve been exposed to too much humility, encouragement, and accommodation within company walls. How can this be? Seriously, even putting those words on paper makes me feel like Satan himself! How in the world can these great attributes that we usually strive to acquire cause havoc? Three examples: (more…)