Brian, foreman for a Northwest mechanical contractor, told session 8 of the Leadership Development Lab,
“We had a new guy start on our job recently. I could tell by his behavior that he felt awkward and out of place, so I decided to begin applying some of the Turbo Leadership Principles to help him feel more comfortable. He was my “pearl” (the person I wanted to improve my relationship with). I began to give him a lot of praise, demonstrating a genuine interest in him. I noticed an immediate difference in his self-confidence. After a couple of weeks, he came up to me and asked what I thought of a sketch he had made of the project he was working on. I said, ‘Wow! That’s great!’ He gave a big smile and walked off.
“A few minutes later he stopped by again and asked, ‘Do you think I’m ready for Journeyman?’
“‘Absolutely,’ I said, and he gave me another big smile as he walked away.
“A little while later, he passed by again, exclaiming, ‘I’m going to do it!’ very enthusiastically.
“The lesson I learned from this experience is that as I look for ways to grow my team, and everyone on it, encouragement is a powerful tool for helping them realize more of their potential.
“The action I call you to take is, be aware of the fears of those around you and provide lots of encouragement. Be known as the great encourager.
“The benefit you will gain is your crew will gain the self-confidence needed to take the initiative and engage at deeper levels. You will win as you create a team of winners.”
Remember, if you want people to accept your encouragement and praise, start by paying positive attention. Giving approval to someone you haven’t paid attention to is like skipping first base and running directly to second or third base. People may reject your approval and appreciation when you have not earned the right by first paying positive attention. Effective attention is accomplished by warmly acknowledging your team members’ presence.
Say “Good morning. How are you doing?” Pay attention to people for showing up, being on time, and ready to engage.
Too often we feel we should not pay positive attention, give approval or appreciation, for any reason other than a perfect performance. This practice of holding back acknowledgement can result in a team full of resentment and dissatisfaction. Engaging leaders give their team approval for their honest effort, not for being perfect. Think of yourself at the beginning of the day as having a pack full of encouragements.
See if you can give them all away before the day is over. Express your approval for every meaningful effort, any improvement in performance, no matter how small. Have an empty pack before you hit the sack.