It’s not what people say or do that we remember; it’s how they made you feel, isn’t it? Recognition: are you the “good finder” or the “nit-picker”?
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Can you recall when last you were recognized, acknowledged, thanked or praised in your workplace and in your home? It sure feels good, doesn’t it?
However, could it be that it was probably a while back?
Acknowledgement and Praise
And when last have you thanked or praised or recognized or acknowledged someone in your workplace or in your home, for both adults and children?
Could it be that it was probably a while back as well?
Most of us thrive on recognition, don’t we? What a simple and powerful means of encouragement and relationship and team building. Yet I am amazed how few people remember to do this and how many opportunities to encourage or motivate people important to us we let go by, particularly if we are in leadership roles (personal or business).
May I suggest how easy an attitude enhancer and positive behaviour encouragement this is?
I have learned a few simple rules that can make a big difference in our relationship building;
I like to recommend always praising publicly if you can (in addition to doing so one on one). However, I have learned that some people don’t like to be publicly praised, so you need to feel that out and respect that.
However, most importantly, your praise needs to be genuine. Those around you are usually intelligent people and can see through contrived praise for the sake of praise.
There are some equally important rules that many leaders of people ignore when it comes to criticism and consequently can do serious damage to those around them (both at work and at home) as well as to their leadership image.
I have learned never to criticize anyone publicly. Criticism, when required, needs to always be done one on one and preferably after you have sought the person’s permission to do so.
Criticism should never be destructive; it should be constructive to encourage the desired behaviour we want to highlight or emphasize .
Criticize the behaviour, not the person. We play the ball, never the player. Emphasize the opportunity and the positives when giving criticism.
In my diplomacy grooming and training I strongly advocate trust and respect and the art of honouring people, as well as the concept of avoiding the other person “losing face”. This is particularly relevant in Asian communities, but I like to teach my clients that this is so important for everyone we deal with.
Simply put in the context of this article: consider the feelings of the other person before you criticize. Try to “leave them somewhere to go”. For example, I like to levy criticism with a question rather than a statement, particularly if it could be a sensitive issue for that person. That leaves the person a “way out”, whilst usually inwardly accepting the message nonetheless.
Cutting down or building up?
Last week we spoke about “leading from behind” as a more empowering approach to leadership. In that conversation we recognized the “draconian” or the more “authoritative” styles of leadership were no longer as relevant as in previous generations. In that approach mistakes were often punished, preventing any future initiative, because people were scared to have a go, lest they get it wrong and cop and earful for their trouble. The only ones that felt better were the bosses who felt the personal satisfaction (sometimes smugly) of having “given it to them”.
In the more empowered style, we focus on the behaviour, not the person and allow the mistake as a learning opportunity while of course always maintaining the accountability of preventing disasters along the way. I have learned this to be a source of inspired “having a go” which usually results in much greater innovation and better outcomes for all.
So if you happen to be one of those “older style leaders”, next time you are about to fall back into this form of leadership, why not step back for a few seconds and consider your approach before embarking on its delivery? What if your outcomes improved to an extent you couldn’t imagine? Sounds a bit dramatic, doesn’t it? But what if it were true for you?
So in this coming week, why don’t you become more aware of where you can (genuinely) recognize a good thought or deed or result and find opportunities to (genuinely) praise good work? I know that it will not only “make your day” but improve that of those around you. And you know what: I think you might just notice a few recognitions coming back to you…
Excellent blog Heiner.
I acknowledge you for putting such quality articles out for your crowd to read. Your skills, knowledge and insights shine through with each and every word.