A friend of mine had a son and daughter in their early teens. He and his wife both worked during the day. The mother would usually give the children a list of chores to take care of once they got home from school. The chores list would typically have about a dozen items to be done before mom and dad arrived home from work. My friend told me about a particular incident involving his kids’ chores list.
On this occasion the son and daughter worked very hard to get everything on the list completed before mom and dad got home. My friend told me how badly he felt when his wife reviewed the list of chores with the children when she arrived home. The kids, he said, did a great job of successfully completing 11 of the 12 assigned tasks. The mother, however, focused on the one chore the children did not complete. She then made it very clear how disappointed she was in them. The spirits of the kids were crushed.
It seemed the mother could have done the opposite. That is, to tell the kids how pleased she was that they did such a good job in getting the other 11 chores done. My friend discussed with his wife the way she handled the chores list with the children. She realized that she had to take a different approach with her expectations. She changed and the kids responded in a very positive manner.
The example I’ve given above is too often encountered in the workplace. In my years in public accounting and private industry, I’ve observed many instances of supervisors mercilessly berating an employee for an infrequent and insignificant job-related mistake. They overlook the many positives that the employee has contributed in performing their duties for the organization. This type of supervision often leads to valuable employees leaving the company, or doing their work under much stress and anxiety if they stay. Morale suffers as a consequence; and, not surprisingly, production suffers.
My firm makes it a priority to focus on the positive actions of its employees. One way it does this is to eliminate the use of rating scales on its annual employee evaluation forms. For example, there are no performance category scales numbered 1 to 5, with 5 denoting excellent and 1 as very poor, to rate staff performance for the year just concluded. Instead, we have several categories of performance that simply discuss the employee’s “strengths” and the “opportunities” that lie ahead for the employee in the coming year.
This particular form of evaluating the performance of an employee has had overwhelming success in supporting high morale among my firm’s team members and encouraging them to work more productively.
Don Bays, CPA, ABV, CVA, CFF