We all know that you “get more flies with honey than vinegar”—but can we actually embrace that concept? It may be second nature to focus on what went wrong and the negative. Rather, I believe that we should turn the tables and focus our efforts on learning from our mistakes, moving on, and by looking at what we could have done differently, need to improve on and as an opportunity for growth. I think of our need to reprimand as a flaw in our nature. We seem to spend an inordinate amount of time on negativity. But, it doesn’t have to be that way if we understand the enduring impact of negative feedback. With a different approach, we can turn the tables toward the positive.

The impacts of negativity, scolding and reprimand are far more damaging that we can imagine and are highly dependent upon how we handle these situations. When we reprimand someone in a manner that is embarrassing, overly strong or without cause or future direction, we damage self esteem and ego. And then the individual is not focused on making changes or improvement, they are focused on how their intellect can handle the humiliation or recover from the scolding. We need to move our focus to learning and changing behaviors! 

Every mistake, challenge or slip up creates an educational opportunity, a learning moment. And when you look at how you handle these “moments”—you can turn them into a positive situation as opposed to a negative one. What I mean is, instead of reprimanding and scolding someone, why not ask them “how could you have done this differently or better?” or “What can we do to avoid this issue in the future?” What individuals, our employees, truly need is reinforcement, learning, positivity, recognition and reward.

How can we implement a mindset of positivity, reward, recognition and engagement? Here are some steps that I think can help in that endeavor…

1. Give your employees an opportunity to contribute to the work by providing an “open door” for ideas, input and feedback on work processes and standards.

2. Train all employees thoroughly on service standards, operations steps/procedures and job expectations.

3. Change the mindset and focus on “corrections” to a learning moment—and ask for ways to “improve.”

4. Implement recognition and reward programs and support those ahead of reprimand, where management and co-workers can nominate a co-worker for a job well done or an accomplishment. Do not limit these “moments of recognition” to work matters—recognize someone who has a new baby in their family or achieves a milestone such as a college degree, etc. Be creative with this effort.

5. Create an area at work to highlight accomplishments and post various achievements and recognition.

6. Allow your employees to be engaged in the service repair process—give them leeway to fix problems and take pride in their jobs, contributions, and value.

In my opinion, we all understand the purpose and value of positive reinforcement and employee recognition, but we fall into our old ways and traps, and have difficulty getting out of those behaviors and mindset. It takes a lot of desire to change—but change is the one thing that can have the most enduring impact and influence not only on our employees BUT on us. When we embrace change and learn from our mistakes, we take a step in the right direction toward self-improvement, learning/growth, and toward the embracing the Golden Rule for life.

HR Question of the month: Please send your HR questions and concerns, or share your thoughts on your human resources challenges via email to the following address. Send input to vegaslinda89129@yahoo.com. Your comments, questions or concerns will help determine the direction for my next month’s column and earn you a copy of my book. Include your mailing address when sending your responses.