3 Ways to Make Encouragement Count
“How can you tell if a person needs encouragement? If that person is breathing.” S. Truett Cathy
You may not intend to, but managers discourage good people.
Encouragement feels like power.
Encouragement invites others to think differently about themselves.
12 ways managers discourage good people:
- Play favorites.
- Punish responsible mistakes. Know the difference between punishment and consequences.
- Exclude them.
- Do their job for them.
- Make self-serving decisions.
- Make decisions without listening.
- Discount effort when results fall short.
- Penalize success by constantly expecting more.
- Take credit and give blame.
- Discount experience and minimize feelings.
- Don’t follow through on commitments.
- Dwell on the past.
The joy of fools is to drag down.
3 ways to make encouragement count:
#1. Everyone needs encouragement – novices need it more.
Experts crave corrective feedback. “Tell me how I can be better.”
Experienced leaders enjoy being told what they’re doing wrong – if it leads to improvement – even if it stings.
Encourage novices by noticing character traits when they fall short. “I can tell you’re committed to do a good job.”
#2. Understand discouragement before rushing to encourage.
A cheerleader who doesn’t understand the game offends the players.
Encouragement without understanding trivializes encouragement.
It’s encouraging to have your discouragement understood.
3 questions to understand discouragement:
- You don’t seem to smile as much these days. What’s going on for you?
- You don’t seem yourself. What’s going on for you?
- I could be wrong, but you seem a little down today. What’s going on for you?
3 tips for effective question asking:
- Don’t use ‘why’. “Why are you down?”, feels like an accusation.
- Be silent after asking a question. Never judge responses. “You shouldn’t feel that way.”
- Affirm emotion. “I understand why you might feel that way.”
#3. Give encouragement its own legs.
It’s manipulative to use encouragement as a platform to give correction.
Practice drive-by encouragement.
Gratitude is cousin to encouragement.
What discourages you?
How might managers be an encouragement to others?
The energy of encouragement is transforming to people. Watch their expressions and see how invigorating it becomes to them. This is sending a strong and positive signal that you notice and acknowledge them. Others will note how you as a leader value, respect and appreciate good people
Thanks Don. Noticing with acknowledgement is simple. The challenge is turning outward by focusing on others, but it’s not easy getting out of ourselves.
I always found a hand or pat on the shoulder, while telling someone that ” I notice and appreciate what you do ” went a long way to make someone’s day go that much better. Every job in any organization is important. Even your boss likes to hear some encouragement. Imagine what an organization of encouragers could accomplish with the right leadership.
You reminded me of these real-world examples of leadership mistakes.
Encouragement is affirming. It says to the person–“I know you can do this.”
Setting a positive example encourages others to follow.
Encouragement must be sincere and believable.
“It’s manipulative to use encouragement as a platform to give correction.” so true! Encouragement should simply help others affirm their faith in themselves that they are capable of accomplishing what they are trying to accomplish. I find that the bet encouragement comes with examples of past successes. It also comes with offers of support. The tough part is staying out of trying to “fix it” for others.
A great alternative to asking “why?” is “what led to that?”. This is much less judgemental and helps you understand the provenance of an action or idea.
Thanks for the idea to affirm emotion – such a simple way to make someone feel understood.
It seems to me that the common thread is attention. The staffer who feels noticed is encouraged that the manager is paying close attention to him or her as a person. In such an atmosphere, correction becomes encouragement. If a manager is distracted or indifferent, the staffer withers on the vine. Why should I care if the manager doesn’t. If the manager’s attention is flagging, he or she needs to do some serious self care–take a few days off, go to the gym, get a massage. Your staff needs you.
I LOVE this post and heartily agree about encouragement!
Everyone wants, needs and deserves to be listened to, acknowledged and supported. Encouraging words are an important part of this. And THANK YOU (in form of thank you for XXX) is encouragement too.
I really love the questions Dan mentioned to help someone open up and share info. A good leader will help ensure others don’t become invisible or silent, and sometimes pulling a person in really helps.
Encouragement can even include healthy feedback/critique. With a positive connection, helpful feedback will be received well, rather than the person feeling discouraged from a negative approach. Encouragement helps keep team members engaged and working together, along with making a positive difference for people to be happy and productive.