Continuous improvement is a mantra for most successful business leaders. It implies there’s always something to improve with people and the organization, putting more focus on what went wrong than what went right. While true in principle, the sinister side of this well-intended discipline is we tend to get more of what we focus on.
Living in NASCAR country, it’s common knowledge new race car drivers are trained to navigate loss of control by putting their car in a free spin. In preparation for the exercise, they are instructed to focus on where they want the car to go rather than what they want to avoid. If their eyes lock in on the wall and they’re saying, “don’t hit the wall, don’t hit the wall!” That’s exactly what they’ll do, hit the wall.
My three children are all adults now and while it was exhausting, I really miss watching them play soccer through the years. It was so much fun seeing them learn so many life lessons on the field. However, nothing aggravated me more than to see a coach yell at a player on the field saying, “don’t do this and stop doing that!” Invariably, the player would repeat the same mistakes. If they only knew the secret to behavior change, they would have seen so much more improvement.
Stop Criticizing and Start Catch People Doing Things Right
In the workplace, it is often easy to focus on the negative aspects of employee performance. However, taking the time to catch people doing things right can have a significant impact on employee morale, engagement, and productivity. When employees feel valued and appreciated, they are more likely to feel motivated to continue performing well and making positive contributions to the organization.
One of the key benefits of catching people doing things right is that it can help to create a culture of positivity and recognition in the workplace. When employees feel that their efforts are being acknowledged and appreciated, they are more likely to feel motivated, engaged in their work and committed. This can lead to improved attitudes, higher levels of job satisfaction, and increased retention rates, as employees are more likely to stay with an organization where they feel valued.
The ROI of Positive Psychology
Research has shown that recognition and appreciation can have a significant impact on employee engagement and productivity. According to a study by Globoforce, organizations that offer frequent recognition and appreciation have 14% lower turnover rates, are 2.5 times more likely to have engaged employees and see a 22% increase in productivity compared to organizations that do not prioritize recognition and appreciation (Globoforce, 2018). In addition, a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that recognition and appreciation were the most important factors in employee satisfaction, ranking higher than compensation, benefits, and job security (SHRM, 2018).
Catching people doing things right can also help to reinforce positive behaviors and encourage continued improvement. When employees receive positive feedback and recognition for their efforts, they are more likely to continue performing well and striving for excellence. This creates a high-performance culture where employees are constantly looking for ways to improve their performance and contribute more to the organization.
In a study by the Corporate Leadership Council, it was found that employees who received regular recognition and feedback were 3 times more likely to be engaged in their work and 2 times more likely to be top performers compared to employees who did not receive regular feedback (Corporate Leadership Council, 2012). Another study by Bersin & Associates found that organizations with strong recognition and feedback programs were 31% more likely to have above-average levels of employee engagement (Bersin & Associates, 2013).
Build Trust and Strengthen Relationships
Catching people doing things right can also help to build trust and strengthen relationships in the workplace. When employees feel that their efforts are being recognized and appreciated, they are more likely to feel connected to their colleagues and the organization as a whole. This can lead to improved communication, collaboration, and teamwork, as employees are more willing to work together and support one another in achieving common goals.
A study by the Center for Creative Leadership found that employees who received regular feedback and recognition had stronger relationships with their managers and were more likely to trust them (Center for Creative Leadership, 2013). In addition, a study by the O.C. Tanner Institute found that employees who received recognition and appreciation from their colleagues were more likely to feel a sense of belonging and connection to their organization (O.C. Tanner Institute, 2018).
Bake It into Your Culture
In order to effectively catch people doing things right in the workplace, it is important to create a culture of recognition and appreciation. This can involve implementing formal recognition programs, such as employee of the month awards or peer recognition programs, as well as encouraging managers and colleagues to provide regular feedback and positive reinforcement.
In order to have the greatest impact, it is also important to ensure that recognition and acknowledgments are genuine, personalized and specific, rather than superficial or generic. When someone is acknowledged for doing something right or well, tell them exactly what was observed. For example, if someone leading a meeting did a great job addressing an issue, don’t just say, “you did a great job leading our meeting today.” Instead, provide something more specific like, “you did a great job getting Jim to speak up over a topic he’d otherwise have avoided and getting us all talking about it to make a decision.”
Catching people doing things right in the workplace is a powerful tool that can have a profound impact on employee morale, engagement, productivity, and overall organizational success. By creating a culture of recognition and appreciation, organizations can help to reinforce positive behaviors, encourage continued improvement, and truly achieve a high-performance culture.
If you have a drive for continuous improvement but recognize how difficult it can be to catch people doing things right, please let me help. Understanding how we’re “wired” as leaders can be a great start to recognizing why this may be a challenge and combined with a complimentary 30-minute clarity session with me to interpret your results, could be a game changer. You can take the assessment HERE. I’ll even send you a recorded review of the results if you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for the full report.
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