They say that a child laughs on average 300 times a day, and an adult just 5 times. If that is true, it is pretty sad. I get how life can catch up with us; but at the end of the day what you see in the mirror is what other people see. If you smile, others are more likely to smile back. It’s an example of positive engagement.
Most successful people smile. Cause and effect.
I have nearly always worked for myself so I’ve never had the benefit of a senior in-company role model (though I have learned a lot from the people who worked with me in the various companies). So, when I started my first company in 1986 I sought out people from whom I could gain early experience and benefit from their wisdom. Positive engagement (as opposed to negative criticism) as a force for growth was one of the consistent themes in the guidance I received from these wonderful mentors.
Here are some of the things I learned that I try to practice everyday at The TAS Group:
Catch people doing something good.
In the rush to get things done, we often look at what is stopping us succeed, and there is nothing wrong with that when applied to oneself. But if you are constantly pointing out failures or weaknesses to the people who work for you, your interaction becomes very negative and demotivating. Make a conscious effort to celebrate small successes, catch people doing something good, and show your appreciation. It’s a positive experience for everyone.
Don’t give up on a past good performer who has recently stalled.
We have all seen this happen. A star performer loses his way and fails. Some managers will fail to look beyond the most recent result. It may be worth considering what macro conditions may have contributed to the failure. Good performers don’t just turn into bad performers. Look into it, and criticize the performance, not the performer.
It is not business – it’s personal.
This is one of the most trite sayings in business: “Sorry, but you understand it’s not personal – it’s business.” When people are fired, miss a bonus payment, get overlooked for promotion, or are forced to take a different role, it may be in the interest of the business, but for the individual involved it is also personal. Don’t pretend it is not. Think about their perspective.
Be vulnerable and share.
You don’t have all of the answers all of time. None of us has. It’s ok to occasionally share this uncertainty with the people who work for you (and your peers and your manager), look for their input and advice, or just use them as a sounding board. The days when this was viewed as a weakness are over. It shows respect and helps everyone learn.
Give without thinking.
Your engagement with your colleagues, whether you work for them, they report to you, or they are your peers, should not be viewed as a give-get negotiation. That’s not how trusted relationships are built. You give help when help is needed – not when you are looking for something in return. If the relationship is healthy you will reap the reward when you need it. If you never need it, the worst thing that has happened is that you helped someone.
Don’t expect things to change if you don’t.
There’s a wonderful cartoon where the first panel shows a speaker in a meeting asking “Who wants change?” Everyone in the crowd has their hand up. The second panel leads with “Who wants to change?”There are no hands up. Change can be difficult. If you want to see it happen in your team, you have to lead the way.
Look inside first.
When you’re frustrated, confused or disappointed and inclined to start a sentence with “I don’t understand how/why …” focus on the “I don’t understand” part. The problem may be your lack of understanding the issue. You might choose to rephrase to “Can you help me understand how/why …” Look inside first – it’s something you can change.
Finally, Smile 🙂
It’s the easiest way to make people happy. Happy people are productive people.