It’s easy to focus on mistakes. When you solve a problem, it feels like progress. So if you catch employees committing errors, not following protocol, practicing poor technique, etc., you know you’ve taken steps to improve overall performance.
Desirable behaviour, on the other hand, isn’t always as eye-catching. It’s like driving your car. There are occasions when you appreciate the vehicle’s features and performance, but it’s more likely to get your attention when something needs fixed.
With employees, reinforcing desired behaviour can lead to repetition and positive energy. The best way to practice this is to train your eye to catch employees doing something right and commending them while they’re in the act.
Noticing people doing the right thing doesn’t require a detailed explanation. You’re communicating approval, which can be done with a hand to the shoulder, a thumbs up, a wink—whatever signal you think would be meaningful to the employee.
The main thing is that they know the specific behaviour you’re lauding and are encouraged as a result.
Janis Allen, a recognition expert, believes that managers should “wander with an agenda in mind.” This can involve taking a few minutes each day to go out and consciously notice your staff doing the right things.
While it’s your responsibility to ensure your employees are doing their jobs correctly, you also want them to know you’re possessed of more than just a critical eye.