Discriminating leaders are often quick to find mistakes and slower to find the positives. After all, in your desire for excellence, you strive for the best outcomes. How you communicate these things, however, can make a big difference between affirming and disorienting your employees.
Example: A team member completes a large, high-profile project with a few lingering punch-list items. Praise the success of the overall project and keep the punch-list items in proper perspective. If you put your emphasis on the unfinished items and minimize the overall project, you’ll do a disservice to your employee.
When your people have been working at warp speed, consider taking a moment to thank them for their high level of commitment. This can seem like a small gesture, but it can yield massive results. This act of acknowledgement can be just what the team needs to keep it focused on the end result.
Example: Step into a team room while everyone is in working high gear to deliver this kind of message. Your welcome interruption will serve as a welcome energizer and point of personal pride.
Another situation is when people turn around a faltering situation that upset or disappointed you. You may have criticized what was going wrong, and the team reversed direction putting the project back on track. When this happens, acknowledge the effort. If you only criticize and don’t recognize the team’s correction, you’ve missed an important moment.
Example: One of your employees neglects to give attention to an important client project and you (rightfully) criticize this. She turns it around and delivers a high-quality result. A little well-placed acknowledgement will go a long way. If all people hear is your criticism, the environment can turn into one dominated by fear.
There are dozens of examples like this. The key is to make sure you recognize the important things in a timely manner. When you don’t reinforce what’s working right, the link between leadership and staff can begin to erode and become fragile.
Have a great day!