As a leader do you go into work everyday looking to catch people doing the right thing, or are you more focused on dealing with issues and problems?

I don’t believe people come into work each day to figure out what they can screw up. No, they come in to do great work, and advance the company’s purpose forward. Why then do leaders spend more time on the negatives? A leader’s focus should be on all the positive things that are going on in the work environment.

 I find that people who have been consistently encouraged:

  • Make better teammates
  • Are more productive
  • Are more creative & willing to take risks to drive improvement
  • Have less fear of failure
  • Feel empowered
  • Are open to being coached when problems arise

When focusing on “Catching people doing the right thing” servant leaders:

  • Recognize both good performance and good behaviors
  • Recognize the small wins as well as the big wins
  • Are specific in their recognition (No generalities)
  • Recognize both privately 1×1 as well as publically when appropriate
  • Put practices in place to make recognition a daily habit
  • Write hand-written notes of thanks and encouragement
  • Expect all people to embrace encouragement as part of the culture

I used to start every meeting with a celebration of the success stories that team members had seen since we last met. This, along with daily performance metrics, provided plenty of material for me to recognize people. On my daily walks I would also look for behavioral excellence, such as employees keeping a safe, clean, and orderly work space, or pitching in to help others in need, and compliment them on being a great teammate.

One of my favorite examples of a leader making encouragement a daily habit was someone who put 6 fishing jigs (sans hooks) in his left pocket every morning. Each time he caught someone doing the right thing, he would compliment him or her and then move a jig to his right pocket. His goal was to finish each day with all the jigs in his right pocket

These encouragement practices will drive a culture of:

  • No fear
  • Energized employees
  • High performance
  • Personal growth

 I encourage you to take an inventory of how much time are you spending on dwelling on the negative and dealing with problems vs. catching people doing the right thing. Challenge yourself to consistently improve this ratio. It will positively enhance your culture.

What are some ways you are intentional about catching people doing the right thing? 

Mark Deterding

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. Matthew 16:15-17