Oprah Winfrey says that what you focus on expands, and this is extremely important to appreciate when it comes to dealing with people. Whether you are a teacher or a manager, this approach can make all the difference.
One of the best things you can do is praise someone when they are doing something good. Even if what they are doing is their everyday task, praise them. If you are a manager, you could tell them you appreciate that they make it a priority to come in on time, use their time well, are polite to the customers. Don’t wait to praise them for extraordinary acts. If the only time you speak to them is to tell them what to do and when they have done it wrong, you won’t ever see exceptional work.
Praise costs nothing, and reaps huge dividends.
Consider dog training. If you only give attention and energy to the dog when it is making a mistake or performing an undesirable action, that is all you will see. Not just because that is where your attention is, but also because that is where he is getting your energy. Dogs, like people, want energy. If they can’t get it in a positive way, they will seek it in a negative way. Being yelled at for doing something wrong is still better than being ignored for doing something right.
You may think “Why should I praise someone for doing their job?” Because that is your job. That is what a manager is supposed to do. Managers aren’t just there to direct traffic – they are there to make sure things go smoothly. Praise is the grease that oils the wheels.
One of the worst things you can do is tell your staff you are going to send “mystery shoppers”. This makes them feel threatened. It encourages them to act better only out of fear. Fear is a terrible motivator. If you have to use mystery shoppers, have them only report when a staff member is doing a good job. It doesn’t have to be exceptional. It just has to be good. If you do that, it will encourage them to be good for the sake of getting caught being good. There will be a benefit, a payoff, a reward for doing good work.
Singling out one or two people for praise out of a large group is great for those few people and terrible for the rest of the team. If ten people out of three hundred get awards or recognition, then what does that do to the morale of the rest of the group? Consider what they do in Special Olympics. Everybody gets an award.
Make awards and recognition meaningful and specific. If everybody gets the same award, then it becomes meaningless. People like to be noticed for their differences and individuality. If you pay attention to how they are special, they will feel appreciated and noticed. They will cease being a cog in the machine.