Our society has trained us to look at everyone and everything with a critical eye. Nothing is ever good enough. We have all become quality control inspector #13. In just about any situation we might find ourselves being overly critical; thinking things like, “I wouldn’t have done it that way,” or “they could have done it this way for better results”. If a project was completed as planned, instead of taking a moment to celebrate the accomplishment, we immediately jump to conducting a post mortem to see how we can do it better next time.
As a leader it’s your job to be on the lookout for continuous improvement opportunities with a critical eye. After all, you are responsible for the results. But that’s just half the value of leading with a critical eye.
The other half is to catch them doing something right and acknowledge it, celebrate it or reward it. Leaders tell me all the time, “but that’s what they’re supposed to be doing why should I tell them thank you.” My response is, “yes, that is what you hired them to do, but you should still acknowledge that they are doing something right so they will want to keep doing it!”
Affirming someone’s good performance or progress is the surest way to ensure they continue that good performance and engage them for even higher levels of productivity. Think about how we treat a baby who is learning to walk. Do we criticize them for falling down after only one step? No. We praise their progress and encourage them to continue trying until they are off and running. I can think of numerous other examples of situations when we acknowledge progress in our youth – can you?
Why not carry that practice over to your peeps? In addition to quality control, become a cheer leader of your peeps performance. Use your critical eye to also catch them doing something right and watch your employee’s engagement and resulting performance ignite!
I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism. - Charles M. Schwab
A pat on the back is only a few vertebrae removed from a kick in the pants, but is miles ahead in results. - Ella Wheeler Wilcox