Make the effort to catch employees doing something good and compliment a job well done.

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When I came into the business years ago, the people I trained under had two ways of communicating to me how well I was doing my job: They’d either let me know I was doing a good job by leaving me alone (instead of busting my chops), or they would throw things at me and cut me to the bone with vicious assaults on my ancestry and impure thoughts about my mother.

Being ignored got to be a good thing. I figured everything must be OK.

But if I did something like a rookie and handed up the wrong-size fitting, I instantly knew I had done something stupid because that same fitting would come flying back at my head as fast, if not faster, than I handed it up.

Thankfully, those days are gone for the industry … at least I hope they are. Young people won’t put up with what we had to endure years ago and I don’t blame them. When I say young, I mean 40 and under. It’s generally the nature of people under 40 who won’t be motivated by these two misguided attempts at teaching and communicating.

Today, you need to communicate early and often with people of any age, but especially those under 40. They won’t do things simply because you’re the boss and said so. They want to know why they must do something, what you will do to help them and what the consequences are - both good and bad.

Catch 'Em In The Act

Knowing it was my turn at training others, I should have been more compassionate because I swore that when I got my time to teach and lead I’d do better.

But it wasn’t easy to live up to my promise to do better. Frankly, I probably stuttered when I first made an attempt to give an “Atta boy” when I found someone doing something good. My heart knew better but my head said, “It’s their job, isn’t that enough?”

The answer is NO!

Another reason all of us are stingy with our good praise is we don’t stop our busy days and go out of our way to find our staff doing something good and praising them for it. We figure they must know.

They don’t!

What they do know is we always find time to yell at them and show our displeasure when they screw up.

I learned that if I wanted to discipline and correct bad behavior, I needed to watch for an in-the-moment chance to stop whatever I was doing and give a genuine and glowing compliment.

It was not easy. But once I started to do this on a regular basis, it was amazing how easy it became to get away from the bad habit of seeing only my employees’ faults and mistakes. I soon became aware of how many good things they did that I had just taken for granted.

I’m telling you from experience that the best thing you can do today is make a promise to yourself to fill up your employees’ “Good Praise Bank Account.” It makes it so much easier when it comes time to correct them or to take action on the Steps of Discipline because they’ll know you’re fair. It makes being able to listen and change for the better so much more doable.

It’s incorrect to think that if you are too free with glowing praise, they’ll relax and slack off. It’s just the opposite. The fact is, when you compliment often and genuinely in public, they’ll want you to do more of it.

The trick is to contain your anger and your desire for perfection when a mistake happens by taking the time to find out if it was a lack of communication, training or something you could have done better. Once you know you’ve done the best you could, it’s time to correct the behavior immediately.

Remember to “compliment in public and criticize in private,” because people respect the extra effort and you’ll find a much better response to what you’re saying when you do an occasional correction.

Make deposits in the form of your praise to their Good Praise Bank Accounts and take the extra effort to catch them doing something good, so you can be in a better position to make a withdrawal when you have to coach or discipline them.