Chris Kolenda: Do you want Awesome repeats? Three-peats? Make this one simple change.

Do you want Awesome repeats? Three-peats? Make this one simple change.

If you have good employees who perform inconsistently, I’ve got a way for you to boost individual and team performance with one simple change.

Most business owners I know are relentlessly positive people. Natural optimists who believe they can succeed and are willing to try new things to grow their business and bring out their employees’ best.

It’s not unusual for them to walk around the business complimenting people for their good work.

Stay awesome, Joe!

Keep on rocking it, Sara!

I appreciate you, Jane!

The effect of general compliments on employer and employee alike is easy to see: smiles, enjoyment, a boost in everyone’s mood.

Then, everyone moves on. Joe, Sara, and Jane keep doing good but inconsistent work. 

They know you appreciate them but don’t know what behaviors to repeat or adopt because your praise is too general.

What, exactly, is Joe doing that’s awesome, and what can Sara and Jane learn from it and vice versa?

If you want them to repeat high performance, you need to make your compliments specific. That way, Joe knows precisely what you believe is awesome about his performance.

Because he’s performed it and you acknowledged what he did, Joe knows what to do again. So do Sara and Jane, and they know what they can adopt from each other because you told them with a specific compliment.

Joe, I loved how you handled that customer’s complaint. You maintained eye contact, made sure she knew she was heard by repeating the complaint back to her, and used your discretionary funds to fix the problem and make her feel like a winner. Stay awesome, Joe!

Sara, the way you coached Brian to solve a problem he was facing was perfect. You asked him what he would do and what support he needed from you to make it happen. Brian’s solution wasn’t perfect – you knew that – and you knew that a good solution he owned was better than you giving him a perfect solution. Keep on rocking it, Sara!

This practice works everywhere you go. When I complimented a flight attendant on how well he treated people by looking at them directly and acknowledging them, I noticed he started doing it even more than he had before. The same happens with nearly everyone providing a service.

Specific compliments are your way to celebrate what right looks like, and the effect is infectious because your employee and their co-workers know precisely what to repeat.

General comments give a temporary mood uplift. Specific compliments give you a sustainable performance boost.

Let me know how this action works for you by sending me an email or leaving a comment.

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