By Marcus Straub
Business leaders focused on moving their companies to ever higher levels of efficiency, effectiveness, profitability, and success remain vigilant for ways to improve operations and what is — and isn’t — working.
They must avoid a common pitfall, though: fixating on what’s wrong at the expense of what’s right.
While this approach might produce some short-term results, it will over time damage other aspects of the business. Given their astigmatism, these leaders will fail to see all that’s accomplished, the efforts team members put forth, and how far the business has progressed.
These same leaders will squash the morale of their team members with a lack of praise and an abundance of criticism. Team members will become less excited about being a part of the company mission. Top performers will move on.
This will hurt efficiency and effectiveness and, in turn, the profitability and success that’s desired.
Conversely, when leaders offer well-deserved praise and recognition to team members while also working to improve operations, a solid culture is established and benefits ripple through the business.
Because when people feel good — even great — about the work they’re doing and the progress they’re making, 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.
Most people thrive on praise and enjoy recognition. When people are praised for jobs well done, they feel valued. They’re inspired to keep up the good work. They light up and get excited, which is apparent in their body language and behavior.
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 in positive ways to learn, grow and become and do more.
On the other hand, when a person truly gives their best and is met with only criticism in the form of what they did wrong and what they 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.
Repeated over time, this criticism becomes what’s called negative conditioning and leads to diminished self-confidence, negative self-perception, 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.
As a leader, it’s crucial to understand this need, change your perspective and behavior and offer the praise and recognition your team members appreciate and need to continue advancing. Positive reinforcement offers a far 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. They 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 praise and recognition team members need to learn, grow and become top performers in your business. Doing so will increase job satisfaction and performance and reduce costly turnover.