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?

Rally cry! Those who know me or have worked with me know that I love a good rally cry to set the tone and motivate my team and me to overcome challenges or accomplish a big goal – or both! Here are just a few rally cries I’ve had in my career: (more…)

Have you ever been the recipient of fake appreciation? We probably all have at one time or another. Fake appreciation is discouraging, and most times it’s worse than no appreciation at all. Sometimes the leaders’ intentions are good, but their efforts fall short. Here are a few all-too-common examples:

Two Scoops of Motivation

If your only strategic response to a big win or to boost morale is to have all the top execs serve ice cream to rank-and-file employees, you’ve missed the mark. Many find it patronizing and belittling; it’s too trite following a big win, and too shallow for boosting morale in challenging times. Your employees are not toddlers; ice cream will not enhance their long-term job satisfaction (neither will burgers, hot dogs, pizza or having your car washed by the CFO). This type of motivation will last about as long as a hot fudge sundae on a 100 degree day. (more…)

Momentum… a leader’s best friend. There is no better feeling than having the big Mo behind you!  It’s hard to get started, but once you have it, it’s hard to shut down. When we have momentum, we’re excited, confident, and productive individually and as a team. Positive momentum gives you confidence. In fact, wise leaders with momentum have a unique humble, yet confident strut in their walk. Ha! I say wise leaders because they know to stay humble and to honor the power of momentum because when it goes away, (and it will if it’s not fed) it’s hard work getting it back.

So, how do we build and sustain the three stages of momentum? (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…)

It’s Monday! Hopefully you’re back at the office and feeling refreshed from an exciting or relaxing weekend. But take a moment and think what you have in store for the week ahead. How do you think you will feel by Friday – tired but fulfilled from a challenging and productive week, or just…tired? (more…)

I f you watched the Oklahoma State vs. Baylor football game a week ago Saturday, you might have noticed that the commentators seemed at a loss for words on what to say as the game progressed. Even many OSU fans were surprised that OSU dominated the game the way they did! In the midst of all the commentating and speculating, I did hear one remark that made my ears perk up. (more…)

Today’s post by Charlotte Walker, one of our Emerging Leader bloggers, is one we can all relate to at some point in our careers. Great tips, Charlotte!

Have you ever gotten smacked up side the head by something so hard it stuns you? Well about six months ago that kind of thing happened to me. I received a very unexpected call from my senior manager one evening.  He had some questions about the program I manage. There had been some developments in my industry, and he wanted to make sure he fully understood how my program worked.  I answered his questions, and he seemed satisfied. We hung up on a positive note, but I still felt uneasy about the call.

The following Monday I had an internal email letting me know my program was being audited to see if it was profitable enough to continue. As if that wasn’t nerve wracking enough, the lawyers had been called in to look at our contractual obligations regarding my program. My entire spending budget was taken away, but I was told, “Don’t worry. Just go about your business as usual.” (more…)