Our workplaces are full of learning moments. Often the moment centers around breakdowns, missed attempts, and other failures. Are good examples more powerful?
Logically, the bad example exploitation seems counterproductive, yet many people do it to themselves and others. As a result, a pattern of focusing on negativity sneaks up on people and teams.
We can have 99 good experiences, things done right, customers happy, and goals met or exceeded. If on the 100th experience something goes wrong it seems to sour all that went right.
It is because our focus is wrong. We stop the presses, hit the panic button, or go on a witch hunt, but only for what is wrong, not right.
Learning moments are not only developed from bad examples, they can and should be developed from good examples.
Fear is an amazingly powerful emotion. It can make people spring into action. It can get the job done. Fear is also a short run game. Employees won’t be sticking around if they live in fear every day.
The same is true for disappointment, ridicule, and criticism. And for the record, no, criticism is not a good idea. Constructive feedback and performance improvement feedback, will help teams grow.
You can show a safety video where someone loses an eye, or you can show a safety video where a broken tool is stuck in the safety glasses preventing the loss of an eye.
You can bring the sales or customer service representative into your office and play back the call that they screwed up on, or you can have a meeting with the team and play back calls that delighted the customer experience.
Authority is important and valuable. It helps break the tie when people are sitting on the fence, it should seldom be used as an attitude of ruling a kingdom.
Yes, you may be the boss. No, you shouldn’t attempt to lead with an authoritarian approach.
This is especially true for learning moments. In learning moments good examples can be much more powerful than bad.
Calling someone to your office about the mistake they made earlier in the day may create fear and anger. Celebrating the behaviors that exhibit cultural values and beliefs may be just as powerful.
Certainly, corrective action is often necessary, but good examples lead to more good examples.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.