Getting positive results

Photo courtesy of Simon Lieschke (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Simon Lieschke (Creative Commons)

As a leader, do you praise your team or criticize?

I have found there’s a distinct difference in those leaders who tell their team what not to do, and those who find something their team is doing right, support that positively and then help them work toward better results in other areas. I’m sure you can guess which one has the better outcome.

I have had leaders who conducted meetings and training who left me feeling empowered and encouraged. One of the best leaders I ever worked for would always point out the things that my team did well, and then make suggestions as to how we could other things better. There was never criticism or outright negativity, but he would give examples that would help us see what changes we could make to improve the results in that area.

Instead of feeling scolded, we were given the tools and ideas we needed to excel in new areas. And you can imagine the loyalty that was built by his supportive attitude.

Then there are other leaders who have led meetings and training sessions where we were talked down to. We were told as a group all the things that we were doing wrong (even though only a small percentage of the group had done those things) and given no feedback on how to improve. Basically, we were told that we were wrong and we need to get better without being handed the tools to get better.

Even people who were not directly involved in the situation felt scolded, and everyone left feeling dejected and ineffective. We also had little incentive to improve except to avoid being admonished again the next time!

In order to most effectively influence your team, there are several steps to take to move toward improvement:

  • build up confidence by pointing out specifically what was done right – give examples!
  • ask questions as to what some of the challenges and obstacles are in the areas where results are not up to par, as well as what steps have been taken already
  • suggest additional actions that might lead to more positive results
  • ask your team to outline the new plan of action and expected results
  • set some goals and timelines for re-evaluating the situation after the new actions have been put into place

You won’t do your team any favors by sugar-coating the situation, but neither will you entice effective results by openly criticizing their efforts. Help them map out a plan for improvement, and remind them what they are doing well, and you will see outcomes improve. Empower your team and give them tools to make the changes themselves and watch them excel.