Business leaders intent on moving their companies to ever higher levels of efficiency, effectiveness, profitability and success constantly look for ways to improve operations. This requires a discerning awareness of what is — and isn’t — working.
There’s a potential pitfall, though, if leaders focus only on what they perceive as wrong. While this approach could lead to improvements and desired results over the short run, it will damage other vital aspects of their businesses over time. Given their singular focus and accompanying astigmatism, these leaders fail to see all that’s achieved and accomplished, the efforts put forth by team members, and how far their businesses have actually progressed.
These leaders will squash the morale of their team members with a lack of praise and an abundance of criticism. In turn, team members will become less excited about being a part of and furthering company missions. Top performers will likely move on. This will hamper the very efficiency and effectiveness that’s sought and the profitability and success that’s desired.
Conversely, when leaders offer well-deserved and genuine praise and recognition to their team members while also working to continually enhance how the company operates, a solid culture is established and the benefits ripple throughout the business. Why? Because when people feel good, even great, about the positive steps they’re making and the work they’re doing, they’re encouraged to stay the course. Consider how great it feels and how motivating it is when you receive praise and recognition for your efforts and hard work.
Most people thrive on praise and enjoy some form of recognition. When a person is praised for a job well done, they feel valued and inspired to keep up the good work. They light up and get excited, which is apparent in their body language. When this happens repeatedly, they grow more self-confident, take on challenges with greater initiative and passion and become more adept at what they’re doing. In other words, they’re motivated to learn, grow and become more.
On the other hand, when a person truly gives their best and is met with only criticism of what they did wrong or should have done better, they feel defeated, inadequate and undervalued. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a situation like this, you know how unpleasant this experience can be. It’s compounded if this behavior is repeated over time. This is called negative conditioning and commonly leads to diminished self-confidence, negative self-perceptions, resentment, disengagement, lower performance, and turnover.
The desire to feel good about ourselves and the efforts we put forth constitutes a very real human need. Leaders must understand this and change their perspectives and behaviors to consistently offer the praise and recognition team members appreciate and need to continue advancing. Positive reinforcement offers a more effective leadership strategy than negative conditioning.
As I coach leaders on how to lead from a position of composure and with a balanced perspective, they work with their teams in new, dynamic, and more effective ways. This enables them to build empowered teams that produce the results they want to achieve.
In your unending pursuit of success and a finely tuned business, don’t forget to consistently provide the well-deserved and genuine praise and recognition your team members need to learn, grow and become top performers.
When the team members in any business are supported in constructive ways — both for jobs well done and in those areas in which they’re in the process of improvement — they’ll typically perform at higher levels simply because they feel valued and encouraged in their efforts to be their best.
When you give others what they want, they’re more likely to give you what you want. Everyone is happier and more successful.