I feel very fortunate to be the mom to three wonderful kids. They aren’t perfect – by any stretch! And I don’t have fantasies that they are better than others, or above the norm. But they are my kids and I adore them. Today I was teaching my oldest daughter, age 16, to set up an online banking account. We were going through the process together and she had to choose a picture and pick a phrase that was meaningful to her for security purposes. We sat at my computer, and I was next to her while she typed in “My mom rocks” as her phrase. I couldn’t believe it. This is the teenager who has allowed me to set the bar very low, because I can never do anything that is good enough for her!
Deep down I know that she recognizes what I do and she appreciates me, but there was something about seeing it in writing that really hit home. What an amazing feeling it is for any of us to feel appreciated, and feel recognized!
I have a client right now whose staff would describe the company’s culture as being one of “gotcha”. Instead of recognizing what people are doing right, or acknowledging their contribution, the common theme is to find what someone has done wrong and skewer them for it – and if it can be done publicly with multiple cc’s, even better! The morale is so low, and people there generally feel demoralized and defeated. It is a bit of a “why try?” environment, because people feel they are not likely to succeed anyway.
I always find myself feeling sad when I speak with people who work there. They are smart, talented and engaging folks, and yet they carry a weight of “what have I done now?” around on their shoulders. It’s curious to me, whenever I deal with companies like this (and unfortunately there are many), why they seem to think motivation and success will come out of berating someone or finding fault with what they do. We all need that “Atta boy” or “Atta girl” to tell us we are on track, moving in the right direction and on our way to success.
In my role as a consultant, I find myself often being the bearer of bad news. I see the things that might need to be fixed or corrected. I bring up something that – if changed – could help my client to be more effective. But every now and then I worry that my role is to find the fault. My role is to point out what’s wrong and then work to fix it. I need to balance the need for course corrections with what’s going well. One client, in preparation for a brainstorming meeting we were going to have, asked me, “Could we start out by asking them what’s going right? Can we stay on a positive note for just a few minutes?” In our company’s template agenda that we share with clients to use with sales teams and management teams, we have as the first bullet point “Share successes.” There is something to be said for pointing out what’s going well – for focusing on the people who “rock” and what they are doing that needs to be celebrated.
Of course we all make mistakes – it’s the human way. We mess things up sometimes in a small way, and sometimes in big ways. But we seem acutely aware of the things we don’t do well or that we need to correct. Most of us are less attentive to what we’re doing right, or what others recognize about us that we can celebrate.
This week, find someone in your world who “rocks.” Tell them so. Or even better, put it in writing for them. Catch people doing something right. Find a way to give someone the verbal shot in the arm that might get them through their day.
And, to my daughter – thank you. I think you rock, too.