by Zach Montroy
Let’s say you’ve had a stellar first quarter, and you’re excited to meet with your boss. You know that your performance will be rated, and you’re looking forward to a fantastic score. But when you meet, you’re greeted with a review that stops short of 100%. Your boss tells you, “I never give out perfect scores, because there’s always room for improvement.” They usually say it with a hint of pride.
If you’ve been in this situation, you’ve experienced the annoyance that instantly bubbles up in your chest. Sure, there’s always room for improvement…in theory. In practice, you’re left feeling short-changed. You worked hard for an excellent score, and you’ve been docked for no good reason.
In my work with teams, I’ve seen how demoralizing this practice can be. Let’s make a change. Instead of adding up a score and always “leaving room” for improvement, let’s borrow a strategy from the Olympics. Start with a perfect score and deduct for areas that need to improve. If there’s nothing to improve, the score stays where it is. Let’s stop treating excellence like it’s unreachable, and let’s call a win a win.
The Power of Positive Reinforcement:
Sure, everyone likes to get high marks, but there’s something more powerful at work here. When we authentically acknowledge accomplishments, we foster a positive environment that boosts morale and motivates individuals to continue performing at their best. Research has established that for every negative comment, relationships require at least five positive interactions to rebuild. Giving folks the benefit of the doubt and starting from an excellent score keeps everyone in a positive, can-do frame of mind.
The Balance of Continuous Improvement:
Here’s where I typically get some push back. Sure, everyone likes to reward their top performers. But there’s a fear that too much praise will dull the hunger for excellence. Leaders are often wary of giving their team the “carrot,” rather than continuing to dangle it in front of them. This couldn’t be further from reality. Celebrating wins actually creates a taste for success. When employees see high performers rewarded, it helps keep them motivated. Knowing that you’ll be recognized for your wins makes you more open to constructive feedback. After all – if you know your boss wants you to succeed, you’re more likely to listen. When you’re confident that your leader knows, understands, and values you, you’re more likely to give 100% of your effort.
The idea of giving praise freely can feel uncomfortable for a deeper reason. As leaders, we can operate from scarcity or abundance. Test yourself – are you convinced that you can coach your entire team to be great performers? Or, have you accepted the reality that you’ll continually be working with underperforming employees? See how you can open yourself to the possibility – and joy – of a team that succeeds across the board. Leaders with an abundance mindset believe there are enough resources and time to accomplish their goals. It shapes how they lead. When you embrace an abundance mindset as a leader, the effects will ripple throughout your team.
Let Us Help Reshape Your Thinking
If you’re hesitant to change the way you assess employees, take some time to look beneath the surface. What are your concerns? Do they come from a place of strength or of fear? Often, your reaction to thos specific adjustment can help uncover the place where you are currently battling limiting beliefs or practices.
If you’re hoping for a bit more help, that’s what we’re here for. Our team at The Intention Collective has an arsenal of workshops, tools, resources, and personalized coaching available. Reach out to us for a consultation.