A few days ago I took my kids to the local public library. As I sat there in an uncomfortably small chair waiting for my oldest son to pick out another ninja book, I happened to overhear a father and a son at the table next to me. The boy, no more than eleven or twelve, poured his heart out to his father about a big project that he was working on at school. He was worried about getting it all done in time, he was worried about having to speak in front of the class and was trying to figure out the logistics of his presentation...
When he was done, his father took a moment to reflect on what his son had just shared and then replied.
"Ok, well you better get to work then! I expect an A."
The look on his son's face was heartbreaking.
And after being a business coach for over two decades, I can tell you that this scenario isn't going to play out very well for either party. I have seen many employers treat their staff with the same lack of reverence and understanding that his father had for his son and their bottom line and their employee turnover have suffered greatly.
Are You The Parent That Is Never Pleased?
When I find a business coaching client struggling with employee growth, I ask them the question: Are you the parent that is never pleased? 75% of the time, they understand right away what they need to work on. But the remaining 25% need a little more help. So we follow up with these questions.
1. Do You Acknowledge The Process?
A good leader will acknowledge the struggle and the process that it takes to grow as a person and as a professional.
This might sound like:
"Great work on drafting that new marketing piece Sam, I know that was hard to make the time to do that."
"Way to go Risa. That's a really big deal that you had that adult conversation with Rick about his recent slip in performance. I know that it took real courage to step up and talk with him directly about this."
Or in the case of the father/son scenerio:
"Wow! It sounds like you have a lot of work ahead of you! But it sounds like you have a good handle on the steps that you need to take to make it happen. And I am really excited to see your presentation."
2. Do You Encourage Procrastination?
Playing the part of a parent that is never pleased, can breed procrastination amongst your team members. They are so afraid of doing the wrong thing or presenting a presentation or a report that isn't up to your standards they will subconsciously hold off on doing it until the last minute.
If you find yourself demanding perfection, give your staff the freedom to do things imperfectly. Ask them for a "draft" or a "beta version." This gives them subtle permission to do it imperfectly and get the task off the ground.
If you want to encourage your employees to do their best work- put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself these two questions.