It’s that time of year again! Yup, time for the annual performance appraisal. Some recent studies indicate these may not be as helpful as we thought in increasing productivity.

First off, a once a year review is rather a waste of time. And, if you are working with Millennials or our newest addition to the workforce, the Gen Z (the 18 to 23-year old’s), you are often dealing with individuals who want immediate feedback. The difference is they want the information that helps them learn as opposed to the feedback that tells them what they have done wrong.

Now, don’t get me wrong, every generation prefers to know what they do well and that is precisely what science is telling us about how to improve productivity. Catch people doing something right and focus on that! Be cautious – if someone is doing something that is unlawful or unsafe, of course you want to put a stop to the behaviour. That is only common sense.

You may be familiar with Tom Landry, the Dallas Cowboys legendary coach. He would go through many hours of previous games’ footage looking for what his players did right. In other words, looking for their strengths and then he coached them to be the best they could be by showing them their own personal vision of what their excellence looked like.

And you can too! Look for:

  • Outcomes – what is your employee, child, spouse doing that produces the favourable outcome
  • Comment on the success with statements that lead to growth:
    • “Yes! You are doing that thing!” and then go on to explain what “that thing” is that they are doing so well
    • Describe how you feel when you see them doing this. As in, “Wow, that makes me ecstatic – I know you know exactly how to …”
    • “Hey, did you just see what you did there? That works!” Allow the individual to share with you what they just did
  • When people know they have met the outcomes expected it is a big win for them yet it can be even more valuable when you indicate how it made you FEEL:
    • “Let me tell you how this came across to me. It made me proud because …”
    • “What you just did made me think of a time when I was on top of the world because …”
    • “Wow, I am so excited by what you just did because …”

People learn best by knowing what they are doing right. Show the individual the pattern he or she is already using so they can see it, anchor it, redo it in the future and even refine it to do it even better.

Neurologically, humans grow more in areas of their strengths. People actually grow many more neurons and synaptic connections! Joseph LeDoux, a professor of neuroscience at New York University states, “Added connections are therefore more like new buds on a branch rather than new branches.”

Help others do things better by showing them concretely what they are already doing well – it allows them to possibly even find better ways to get to the desired outcome. Start today to look for what people do best and you’ll soon find them doing even better!

Sherry’s CORNER

Did you hear of Diane Tirado, a Grade 8 teacher in Florida who recently got fired? She was fired because she failed to follow the Board’s directive – every student gets a minimum of 50%, regardless of their work.

As a former educator I find this interesting – when everyone is passed on without any effort I wonder if we are doing a disservice to the student. There is a school district in Chicago that does not state fail on a report card; instead it states, “not yet” suggesting there is more to come. I like this, when a student is making an effort.

Yet, in the Florida situation, students had failed to even hand in an assignment – thus the mark of 0 given by the teacher. Yes, she did not follow the Board’s guidelines and so lost her job. I do wonder though about these Grade 8 students who will eventually become employees. Will they be rewarded for choosing not to do their job or might they lose their job for choosing not to do it?

As we are now seeing Generation Z entering the workforce this question does weigh on my mind. What about you? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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