Think about the last time you got some good news. Some REALLY good news.
How did it make you feel?
Did it make the rest of your day even better? Or worse?
I’m betting it made the entire day better. Success breeds success, and all that.
Years ago I’m watching a sales guy attempt to brag about a big sale he’d just made. He’s reliving it moment by moment with the owner of the company. It’s a very good sales and he’s clearly excited about it. He also happens to be among the top tier of salespeople in the organization. This isn’t his first rodeo.
The owner grabs the paperwork from his hands, surveys it carefully and begins to grill the salesperson. “Why did you sell them this?” pointing to an item on the paperwork. “You should have sold them (and he mentions something other than the item they purchased).” Almost line by line he criticizes the sale.
The salesman entered the office walking on air, elevated by his success. He left the office crawling on all fours, wondering why he was even working there. A person excited to share good news was summarily shot down faster than an Oklahoma covey of quail.
Tell Me Something Good was a terrific 1974 funky song performed by Rufus and Chaka Khan, written by Stevie Wonder. But it’s more than a 70’s funk hit. It should be a way of life for your leadership. The previous story is how NOT to do it. Let’s talk about how to do it and how to do it better.
You’re smart. You already know that people crave encouragement. You do. You love it when people encourage you. And I don’t mean that empty “come on, you can do this” kind of encouragement. I mean when somebody spends the time to understand what you’re going through, and they want what’s best for you – and you trust them. You crave encouragement that expresses deep belief in you.
That’s universal. Everybody in your organization has the same craving. They’re all anxious to hear something good. Especially something good that involves them.
Your job? Find it. Then share it. Tell people something good. Get in the habit of focusing on the successes.
“Wait a minute, it’s my job to find what’s wrong and then fix it,” says the business owner. Is that right? Is that your job as an entrepreneur and business owner.
Concentrating on something good doesn’t require turning a blind eye on the things that can be improved, or the things that need to be fixed. I’m asking that you flip the priority around from how you may have been approaching these things inside your organization. We focus quickly on what’s wrong – what’s bad. In the process, we too often neglect the slightest recognition of what’s working, the good. We behave like parents of a kid who brings home all A’s and one C. The C leaps out and we give it all the energy we can. I implore our child to do better. We ask them why they’re struggling with this class. The C is the odd man out among a list of A’s and it gets all our focus and energy. Is that what you’re doing inside your company?
Shift your focus. Think differently. Think better.
Try it for a week and let me know how it goes. Starting today, look FIRST for the good news. Find the success. Momentarily, ignore the failure. Ignore the problem. Just for now.
Train yourself to find the good news.
Now, share it. First, go to the people responsible. Do it in front of others. Not in some big, formal fashion. Just do it wherever these people are. Go to them. Don’t call them to your office and do it behind a closed door. Make it spontaneous and on the spot.
“Guys, I was looking at the report this morning and noticed the terrific job you were all doing. Helping that customer put that fire out was impressive and they couldn’t be more pleased. That’s exactly the kind of success we’re aiming for, so I wanted to congratulate you all.”
Be genuinely thankful to them. Show your appreciation. Be specific.
After you’ve told the people most responsible good you can now begin to share the good news with everybody else. How about you now go to the person you hold responsible. Perhaps that team of people who performed at a high level have a manager or team leader. They’re the next logical person to tell.
NOTE: Don’t tell me something good only to tee me up to tell me something bad. Just tell me something good. The something bad can and should be a different conversation. Otherwise, you’ll train me to know that as soon as you finish the good news, the bad news is sure to follow.
I’m not talking about companywide celebrations. I’m talking taking mere seconds out of your day to recognize high performance. Taking the time to tell people something good.
Do that all week long. Make it your priority. I have a prediction. You’ll find people working harder to achieve results that will warrant your recognition. You’ll get more of what you’re rewarding with verbal praise. That encouragement people so crave? You’ll be meeting that need. Finally.
Be well. Do good. Grow great!