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What happens when someone fails by less than they use to, does it get noticed? If someone use to be consistently 30 minutes late each day and now they are only 15 minutes late do they get recognized for their 50% improvement? What about that person who makes everyone mad, but now only makes 25% of the people mad, does she get recognition for the 75% improvement?

Often times we notice those who have swam the ocean, ran across the country, or done a triple backflip summersault off a 2-story vault but fail to notice those who are failing by less. Is not kaizen about small improvements over time? 

Most managers admit they have a tough time viewing degrees of less failure as an achievement. Furthermore, if they do notice and want to say something they do not know how to say it without sounding condescending, sarcastic, or embarrassed. 

Here are four guidelines to make your recognition comments more effective:

  1. Be positive; your comment should talk about success rates, not failure rates.
  2. Focus on their behavior; as a manager you rent people's behaviors not their attitude or opinions.
  3. Be time conscious; comment soon after the achievement.
  4. Meet their achievement with a benefit.

Example:
Situation.  After some complaints you study the work zone and see that Johnny 5 is taking two extra smoke breaks and the smoke breaks are 25 minutes instead of 15 minutes. You speak to him and tell him he needs to decrease the amount of breaks and time on the breaks. The following week on average he is taking one less break and decreased from 25 minutes to only 20 minutes.

Recognition. "Hey J 5. I have noticed in the last week you have taken a big effort in reducing your time away from your work for your breaks. So far you have made a fifty percent improvement. Keep that up and you will help our department make goal for response time for customer service reps with more time at your station.

Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.  ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Coaching Moment:
Don't reprimand people for failing, thank them for achieving more. Who in your area of influence that has not be measuring up to the standard yet has made some improvement? Now what is stopping you from recognizing it?


I encourage you to share your comments of times this has helped or other thoughts.


Concepts adapted from "Coaching for Improved Work Performance".



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