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We Teach Babies To Cry!
A new baby comes into the family, and the first thing we do – in fact, the thing we work the hardest on – is to teach that new baby to cry.
Let me explain my remark. This poor innocent can’t see, crawl, or fend for itself in any way. This child’s life is literally in our hands. We feed and bathe and cuddle and change the diapers so that this defenseless creature can survive.
How do we teach the child to cry? That’s simple. Every time the baby smiles, we pretty much ignore them. Every time the baby cries, we can’t wait to jump in and take care of whatever is wrong. That’s where the problem is.
If every time the baby smiled we immediately tried to feed it or change the diaper;
If every time the baby cried we just ignored it;
that baby would learn within hours that “to smile” means to get the kind of help it wants!
Now, fast forward to your company and your employees. What do they have to do to get us to pay attention to them? Will showing up on time every day and doing a good job every day get our attention? Possibly, but not probably.
On the other hand, we give all of our attention to our ‘problem children’ who come in late, complain about their work, and otherwise cause trouble. What we are teaching them each day is that if you want to be noticed at work, be a problem worker. Isn’t that backwards from what we really want?
How does this happen? As business owners, we focus on problems and solutions every day. We naturally only give employees attention when they become one of the problems we have to deal with.
I found myself taking problem employees out to lunch so that we could talk about how they might improve their offending behavior. During that same time I never took the “good” employees out to lunch – because I knew they didn’t need that kind of one-on-one discussion. See what I was doing? I was teaching my employees to be problems!
We can change the culture within our own companies by recognizing this natural flaw in our behavior and make a conscious effort to manage people better. Make an effort to spend almost no time (beyond immediate correction) with problem employees. Spend all of your quality time with the good people who are helping you please your customers. Before very long – as soon as everyone realizes that the “good” ones get to go to lunch with the boss – you should see a marked difference in your employees.
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