Most managers tend to do much better job of talking about the negative than they do the positive. That’s because managers typically get credit for being great problem solvers, but they get little to no credit for being great praise givers. And, of course, in order to be recognized as a great problem solver, you first need to have a problem, something negative, that needs fixing.
Managers spend far more time communicating when there’s a problem than they do when there’s something positive to say, And when good employees are primarily hearing about the bad, it negatively impacts their confidence level, and consequently, their performance level.
Pull yourself out of this cycle of negativity by tracking your employee interactions for a couple of days. Pay attention to what you’re saying. What’s your tone like? Do you hear yourself negatively saying “here’s a problem and this is what went wrong?” Or are you delivering positive feedback that tells your people that they did a great job? Keep a scorecard of positive versus negative, marking it with a slash every time you interact with your people when there’s a problem and something needs fixing and a slash for every time you deliver positive feedback.
If the negative interactions outnumber the positive, don’t be discouraged. Just start looking for moments in which to give positive reinforcement, which is different from praise. Positive reinforcement is a teaching tool that allows employees to learn when they do something right by getting verbally rewarded. This triggers a reaction of “that reward felt really good, I think I’ll do it like that again.”
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